Donald Trump and his administration are on an execution spree, rushing to expedite as many state-sponsored murders of federal prisoners as they can before his term ends on January 20. Between last December 10 and the end of his term, Trump has scheduled five executions, bringing his total since last July to 13. Since Trump and Attorney General William Barr effectively re-instituted federal executions, which had basically been suspended for the past 17 years, Trump has acted fast and furiously with this license to kill. In the words of Joanna Walters, writing in The Guardian, he has solidified his legacy as “as the most prolific execution president in over 130 years.”
This maniacal homicidal impatience, this murderous death drive, really defines Trump’s leadership and agenda for the past four years, and that of the Republican Party as well.
In October 2019, perhaps most egregiously for example, he removed from Northern Syria the U.S. peace-keeping forces which were protecting Kurdish refugees, clearing the way for Turkey’s President Tayyipn Erdogan to unleash a genocidal massacre of the Kurds. Trump’s aiding and abetting of this mass slaughter warranted his being brought before a U.N. tribunal on charges of genocide.
And yet, it’s hard to rank which of Trump’s life-denying acts or policies is most egregious.
He has certainly played a central role, in both his inaction in terms of coordinating a national response and his aggressive denials and spread of misinformation, in aiding and abetting the over 310,000 American deaths from the Covid-19 pandemic. These deaths aren’t a result of his incompetence; they are a result of his malfeasance, by intention.
Trump has exhibited not just a careless disregard for American lives, indeed all lives, but a hostility toward them he manifested in targeted and intentional actions.
And it’s just not Trump; it’s the entire Republican Party.
As Sean Colorassi recently reported for PoliticusUsa, some two dozen Republican Senators have been posing obstacles to the passage of Covid-19 relief package, asserting the distorted belief that it is not necessary.
A cursory perusal of the headlines, however, would alert any sentient being to the reality that 8 million Americans have fallen into poverty last summer; that millions more are living on the precipice, living in cars, facing eviction when the moratorium on evictions expires at the end of the month, facing the end of unemployment benefits just after Christmas, and more. Hunger and food insecurity are surging, with the nation’s food banks experiencing unprecedented surges in demand. Small businesses and thousands of restaurants are facing closure, indeed extinction. Cash-strapped states are not only losing billions in tax revenues because economic closures but also are faced with millions of dollars of expenses to address the pandemic. The Republicans refusal to provide aid to state and local governments will mean layoffs of public sector workers and the loss of vital services of citizens.
But aid is unnecessary, they say!
This Republican refusal will cripple the economy for the long term, irreparably damage American lives, and, above all, cost American lives.
But this kind of genocidal governing has become the calling card of Trump and the GOP.
And they want to get as much killing done as possible, undermine life as much as they can, before Trump leaves office.
Trump has gutted environmental regulations, particularly when it comes to ensuring Americans have clean water to drink, and has been hurrying in the past few weeks to sell off or lease the public lands that belong to Americans to the oil drillers, including areas of the Arctic and California that been protected. He’s doing all of this as we face an enormous threat from climate change and need to be rethinking energy production in much smarter and life-sustaining ways.
Until January 20, we will see Trump’s and the GOP’s genocidal mission put in overdrive, trading American lives for whatever financial scraps they can muster.
Tim Libretti is a professor of U.S. literature and culture at a state university in Chicago. A long-time progressive voice, he has published many academic and journalistic articles on culture, class, race, gender, and politics, for which he has received awards from the Working Class Studies Association, the International Labor Communications Association, the National Federation of Press Women, and the Illinois Woman’s Press Association.