Sean Yoes

By Sean Yoes
AFRO Senior Reporter
syoes@afro.com

James Carville, the iconic political consultant rose to his status due in great part to his performance as lead strategist during the presidential ascension of Bill Clinton in 1992.

Carville endeavored to keep his troops laser focused during the successful Clinton campaign by injecting the now famous mantra, “It’s the economy stupid.” At the time the country was slogging through a recession; for the vast majority of Americans their money wasn’t right. Carville understood that for those mostly working class Americans of all races and ethnicities, urban, suburban and rural, that was the issue that mattered most and they would cast their votes accordingly. The question was who could get the money right Clinton, or George Bush 41? The people chose Clinton (with a huge assist from independent presidential candidate H. Ross Perot) and history indicates the U.S. economy generally surged during the Clinton years.

A couple of days ago Carville was at it again.

During an interview on MSNBC’s “The Beat,” on Oct. 26, Carville offered a slight alteration to his 1992 maxim. During the interview host Ari Melber asserted some Democrats believe former Vice President Joe Biden may be playing it a bit too safe with less than a week to go before Nov. 3. “What do you say, James, to some Democrats who think that the Biden campaign is starting to act like a Rose Garden strategy without having a Rose Garden yet?” Melber asked. 

“It’s the pandemic stupid,” Carville quipped.

“He respects other people’s health and he respects his own health. And by the way, people can’t stop throwing money at him. I’ve never seen anything like this. They can’t stop writing checks,” Carville added landing on the bottom line.

There is one overarching issue that dwarfs all others for the vast majority of Americans in 2020 and that is the scourge, burgeoning once again of COVID-19, which has killed a disproportionate number of Black and Brown people. These are facts. As of Oct. 28, nearly 230,000 Americans have succumbed to the pandemic. Millions have lost their jobs. According to a study conducted by researchers at Columbia University, more than 8,000,000 Americans have fallen into poverty since May because of the pandemic. And of course, Black and Brown communities have been hit the hardest.

And the fault lies in the small hands of Donald John Trump.

From the beginning he told his people it was all a hoax although secretly he confided that it wasn’t. He said it would all magically just go away. And now he acts like it has, despite the fact he, his wife and youngest son all have contracted the disease. “We’re rounding the corner on the pandemic,” Trump says at his superspreader rallies adding to his unprecedented list of more than 25,000 lies told according to the Washington Post. But, the truth is COVID-19 is currently raging out of control in a majority of states. And the latest White House coronavirus hot spot has landed squarely within the inner circle of Vice-President Mike Pence.

It’s the pandemic stupid.

In the final stretch to Nov. 3, Biden would be well served to stay on message. His most powerful and popular surrogate Barack Obama sure is. Obama is punking Trump on the pandemic every minute he gets.

“What is his closing argument?” Obama asked during a rally for Biden in Orlando, Florida on Oct. 27. “That people are too focused on Covid. He said this at one of his rallies `Covid, Covid, Covid,’ he is complaining. He is jealous of Covid’s media coverage.”

Ultimately, it is the American people who are making their voices heard in the midst of this pandemic by shattering early voting records.

Think about this: Trump officially captured 62,984,828 votes in 2016 (compared to 65,853,514 for Hillary Clinton), more than 73 million Americans have already cast their votes as of Oct. 28.

But, it’s still not enough.

In the words of Obama’s wife, former First Lady Michelle Obama, “Vote like your life depends on it.”

Because it does.

Sean Yoes is the AFRO’s Senior Reporter and author of Baltimore After Freddie Gray: Real Stories From One of America’s Great Imperiled Cities.

Sean Yoes

AFRO Baltimore Editor