Weekly Lists

Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things
subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.
Photo Highlights

June 20, 2020

Week 188

This week grave polling results revealed a downtrodden country feeling the impact of concurrent and intersecting crises, as national pride fell to its lowest level in two decades, while just 20% were satisfied with the direction of the country. Trump received poor marks for his handling of the coronavirus and for dividing the country amid social unrest.

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June 13, 2020

Week 187

This week Trump seemed to fade into the background, unsure of how to respond to a triple set of crises that gripped the nation: continuing social unrest, a second wave of coronavirus, and the stock market plunging with the economy officially entering a recession.

Trump spent most of the week locked up in the White House, behind the layers of fencing he had constructed, which protestors in turn decorated with signs reading “Black Lives Matter,” “Fuck Trump,” “I Can’t Breathe,” and other such posters. Trump finally emerged on Thursday, heading to Dallas, but still without addressing the killing of George Floyd whose funeral was in Houston days earlier, or coming up with any policies or plans despite one of the most rapid shifts in opinion in our country’s history: support for Black Lives Matter and the need for police reform.

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June 06, 2020

Week 186

This week, in a scene reminiscent of a crackdown in an authoritarian regime, U.S. troops stationed in our nation’s capital at Trump’s behest fired tear gas and rubber bullets on peaceful protestors to disperse them as Trump delivered a “law and order” speech from the White House Rose Garden. The sounds of protestors screaming and shots being fired could be heard in the background as Trump spoke tough talk, and threatened to send the U.S. military to cities to take control. Trump then awkwardly swaggered to St. John’s Church, with a few in his inner circle, and held up a Bible. It was a scene evoking a democracy in collapse —while the country and the world looked on in horror.

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May 30, 2020

Week 185

This was one of the darkest weeks since I started the list. The week began with Trump spinning conspiracy theories to distract from the country reaching the grim milestone of losing 100,000 Americans to the coronavirus, and ended with our country literally burning in the flames of our racial divide, with Trump throwing kerosene on the flames.

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May 23, 2020

Week 184

This week, Trump fully transitioned from leader to salesman, leaving the states to fend for themselves, while he promoted a “transition to greatness.” After a week when two White House employees tested positive for the coronavirus, Trump made the remarkable announcement that he has been taking hydroxychloroquine prophylactically — leading public health experts to sound the alarms to American citizens not to follow Trump’s lead. Days later, the largest study yet on the drug’s efficacy to date found no benefit, but severe cardiac risks for Covid-19 patients.

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May 16, 2020

Week 183

This week Trump tried out a new, more positive approach as the death toll passed 80,000 and more than 36 million Americans were unemployed, claiming, “We have met the moment and we have prevailed.” Trump bragged the U.S. leads the world in testing, then later seemed to indicate testing was not important, and if we didn’t test so much, we wouldn’t have so many cases — leading an NYT health and science reporter to say of Trump, “This is not somebody whose grasp of the science is even third-grade-level.”

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May 09, 2020

Week 182

This week, despite a White House model showing ending social distancing would result in a spike of 200,000 new cases a day and deaths of 3,000 a day, the majority of the country started to reopen. Public health officials warned of dire consequences, with one likening the premature reopening to genocide, but Trump triumphantly declared Phase 1 was over, and now the American people would need to be “warriors” and return to work — a possible death sentence for many of the vulnerable.

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May 02, 2020

Week 181

This week, with his approval dropping and Republicans alarmed about losing the Senate in 2020, Trump shifted away from holding daily task force briefings. Instead, he and his regime sought to portray a great economic recovery coming soon, with the worst of the pandemic behind us. Trump told reporters, “I see the light at the end of the tunnel very strongly,” and Jared Kushner told “Fox & Friends” that the regime’s handling of the crisis was “a great success story.”

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April 25, 2020

Week 180

This week opened and closed with Russia: opening with a bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee report reaffirming U.S. intelligence’s January 2017 conclusion that Russia interfered to help install Trump, and closing with Trump surreptitiously signing an unusual joint statement with Russian President Vladimir Putin amid the pandemic.

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April 18, 2020

Week 179

This week Trump threw a series of shiny coins to distract from the growing death toll and his mishandling of the coronavirus response. On Monday, he proclaimed he, not the governors, had “absolute authority” to reopen the country; on Tuesday he halted funding to the World Health Organization in the midst of a global pandemic; on Wednesday he threatened to adjourn Congress to make recess appointments; on Thursday he announced his plan to reopen the economy to much ballyhoo and which wasn’t actually a plan; and on Friday he encouraged protestors with tweets to “liberate” states from lockdown orders. Each item was remarkable on its own, and the media spent their days dissecting the legality of the pronouncements and whether they were presidential, as the death toll surpassed live lost in three years of the Korean War and kept going.

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