A man in the crowd of supporters at a rally for President Donald Trump this past weekend shouted out, “Armenians for Trump,” and the New York Times reported, “Mr. Trump responded ‘The problems that they have and the death and the fighting, we’ll get that straightened out. I call that an easy one.’”
The president was referring to the renewal of warfare in the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, territory claimed by Islamic Azerbaijan, but run by Christian Armenians; a land and two peoples in violent conflict for centuries. Recent exchanges of fire, including missiles, artillery, drones and air-dropped bombs, have killed hundreds of people, many of them civilians, on both sides.
Donald Trump is probably the only person on Earth who thinks solving the Nagorno-Karabakh problem is easy. If “think” is in any way the applicable word.
His off-the-cuff pandering demonstrates his disrespect for innocent people caught up in war and his complete detachment from the horrible reality they face. A promise so empty from an American president isn’t just irresponsible, it’s insane. But those aren’t the worst thing about this outburst. The worst thing is that this startling exchange is accepted, even by the people who reported it, as normal behavior. “Just Trump being Trump. We’re used to that now.”
But insanity, rejection of reality in favor of self-delusion, is dangerously contagious. Like the novel Coronavirus that is presently sweeping across America. After a week in which the load of fresh cases of COVID-19 and the rate of hospitalizations from the disease were at all-time highs and rising, the president claimed, “we’ve turned the corner,” and the pandemic is going away. Crazy, but catching.
An ABC News/Ipsos poll released Sunday found that a growing number of Republicans are simply ignoring the facts and humming along with the president. After a 30-day surge in which hospitalizations in the U.S. went up by 40 percent, the percentage of Republicans who said they were concerned that they or someone they knew would be infected dropped from 70 to 60 percent.
Predictably, over that same period, Democrats moved in the opposite direction: where 86 percent said they were somewhat or very concerned about COVID-19 at the beginning of October, by the end of the month, the worriers had grown to 96 percent.
The depths of the divisions over something as basic as the nature and the seriousness of the biggest public health crisis in over 100 years help explain why the upcoming presidential and congressional elections are probably the most defining in American history, and why for so many people the two most frightening questions imaginable are – who will win the election and what will happen next?
John Zogby — pollster, author, trend-spotter, and thought leader — has spent the past four decades as one of the most accurate pollsters in the world, conducting business in 80 countries, and leading the way in finding the meaning, story, direction, and usefulness of the data collected.
His client list is a Who’s Who of Fortune 500 companies (GE, Microsoft, Cisco Systems, Coca-Cola, IBM); global NGO’s (UNAIDS, the World Health Organization); and government agencies (the US State Department, US Department of Defense, the Mayors of New York City, Houston, Miami).
John’s regular columns for Forbes.com and the Washington Examiner dissect the intersection between cultural values and political behavior.