Trump Accused Democratic Governors of Mutiny

Once again, he talked tough, but caved when it was clear that his opponents wouldn’t back down.

The reality our impeached president doesn’t want to face is that COVID-19 continues to pose a threat in this country, particularly because he failed to address the crisis in its early stages. As a result, the mitigation strategies that had to be employed have tanked the economy—the one thing Trump thought he could campaign on during the 2020 election. As a result, any factual analysis of his present circumstances wouldn’t look good.

Because Trump doesn’t tend to deal with reality very well, he created a delusional alternative in which he announced a reopening of the economy, we all went back to work, and everything immediately soared back with a big bang—thus ensuring his chances of being re-elected in November.

That was pure fantasy and Democratic governors knew it, which is why they formed regional coalitions to develop plans for when and how to reopen their economies.

States on the country’s East and West coasts are forming their own regional pacts to work together on how to reopen from the stay-at-home orders each has issued to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The first such group to be announced came Monday on the East Coast. Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said his state, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Rhode Island and Massachusetts each plan to name a public health and economic official to a regional working group. The chief of staff of the governor of each state also will be a part of the group, which will begin work immediately to design a reopening plan.

Later on Monday, the West Coast states of California, Washington and Oregon also announced they are joining forces in a plan to begin incremental release of stay-at-home orders. Governors of the three states will collaborate on their approach to getting back to business in “in a safe, strategic, responsible way,” as announced by California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Lest anyone think this is merely a coastal phenomenon, some heartland states are moving in that direction too.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz told reporters on Monday that he spoke with Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers about working together to open those states from their respective stay-at-home orders.

All of that makes sense. Governors are the ones who issued stay-at-home orders, so they are also the ones who can rescind them.

But a president who sees everything through the lens of his own self-interest isn’t going to work with those governors as they develop their plans. Instead, Trump declared that he has total authority in these matters, not the governors. But he didn’t stop there. The president went on to say that “the governors need us one way or the other,” indicating that he would punish those who don’t bow to his demands, probably by withholding medical supplies. With that, we can chalk up a new low to which this president has descended.

Governor Cuomo, however, indicated that he’s not about to cede authority on this one to Trump.

Trump responded by upping the ante.

This is a president who casually throws out words like “treason” and “mutiny” in a way that is incredibly dangerous. But of course, the 10th Amendment to the Constitution ensures that what the governors are planning is not mutiny. It isn’t even a close call.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

Beyond that, the governors’ actions are driven by a responsibility to protect the health of the people in their states against a president whose only interest is his own re-election. So even if what they were planning was mutinous, it would be the responsible thing to do.

During his press briefing on Tuesday, Trump watered down his rhetoric and acknowledged that governors would make individual decisions for their states. So this was all just another example of him talking tough, only to eventually back down and pretend like that was the plan all along. As a reminder, there was a time when the president threatened “Little Rocket Man” with “fire and fury.” But when Kim Jong Un of North Korea refused to back down, Trump met with him and they eventually started exchanging love letters. That is exactly what cowardly bullies always do.

Support the Washington Monthly and get a FREE subscription

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60.