Trump, in Arizona, said yesterday: “Will some people be affected badly? Yes. But we have to get our country open and we have to get it open soon.”
What drives this push to reopen in face of a pandemic that is still raging? In a few words, it’s Trump’s reelection hopes. He’s falling in the polls and his calculus is that a locked down economy for any extended time will seal his reelection fate in November. And if the only way to change that outcome is to prematurely restart and gin up the economy — profits, consumer spending, and, not least, employment — even if it means over the bodies of many more covid-19 victims, he is more than willing to pay that price. In fact, for Trump, it’s a No Brainer, not something that he would lose a wink of sleep over.
The other explanation for his actions, I have seen, is that Trump is simply acting at the behest of the captains of industry and finance who, seeing their profits drop (or surplus value dry up in the language of marxism) are in his ear, insisting that he jump start the economy and, as a consequence, allow them to resume their profit taking.
I’m sure that his favorite corporate executives are in his ear, That’s what they do. And I’m also sure he doesn’t dismiss what they have to say. After all, he’s a capitalist too, and they’re his friends.
But it’s not their voices that matter most to him for now. It’s the voices of his pollsters. And they are telling him that his reelection chances are tanking. In reaction to this gloomy news, Trump has decided that he has to immediately open up the economy and bring down exploding unemployment numbers if he is to win a second term in the November elections. The price of this decision will spike the number of lives lost to the pandemic. It could also set back a sustainable rebound of an imploding economy. But that’s a price that Trump is more than willing to pay.
In short, it’s politics in the first place, not profit making, not unfreezing the flow of surplus value that concentrates Trump’s mind and determines his decisions.