Apr 17, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump accelerates the unrest

Protesters at the Michigan Capitol rally against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's stay-at-home order.
Protesters at the Michigan Capitol rally against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's stay-at-home order. Photo: Matthew Dae Smith/Lansing State Journal via Reuters

Today President Trump began fueling reopening protests in some blue states.

What he's saying: "LIBERATE MICHIGAN! ... LIBERATE MINNESOTA! ... LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!"

Why it matters: Governors have in place strong public health restrictions and are likely to want to continue to hold the line for some time to come. This was a position Trump publicly supported as recently as Thursday.

  • Michigan in particular has a bad coronavirus outbreak, with a lockdown from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer that's among the most severe nationwide.

The ingredients for mayhem, via Axios' Jonathan Swan:

  • Deepening economic desperation: 22 million have filed for jobless benefits, with a second wave of layoffs already underway. More help appears to be coming for small businesses, but Congress is still haggling.
  • Conservative TV and talk radio influencers encouraging protests: "People instinctively know now that however bad this is, it isn't as bad as they all told us," Rush Limbaugh told listeners on Thursday.
  • Early signs of big conservative donor money getting behind the protests: In Michigan, one protest was planned by the political adviser to the family of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, WashPost reports.
  • Police departments are stressed: Hundreds of police officers have been quarantined for coronavirus exposure, with some dying. Multiple departments nationwide have reported issues getting PPE.

Between the lines: As we reported in yesterday's PM, public support is strongly on the side of social distancing.

  • 66% of Americans are concerned state governments will lift restrictions too quickly.
  • 73% say the worst is yet to come from the outbreak.

The bottom line: It surely can't be helping individuals and businesses to have the yo-yo effect created by federal and state officials openly arguing about timelines that involve life and death.

Go deeper