Are We Really Going to Let Trump Come Back to Fail Again?

For many millions of Americans, time seemed to move differently under President Donald Trump.

There was no breathing room — no calm in the eye of the storm. From beginning to end — from the “American carnage” inaugural on Jan. 20, 2017, to the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 — it felt as though the country was in constant flux, each week a decade. We lurched from dysfunction to chaos and back again, eventually crashing on the shores of the nation’s worst domestic crisis since the Great Depression.

For many, if not most, of these Americans, the choice this November is no choice at all. They escaped Polyphemus once; they don’t intend to return to his den.

There are other voters who take a very different view. To them, Trump’s term was a time of peace and prosperity. They don’t register the pandemic or the subsequent economic crisis as part and parcel of the administration. They don’t hold Trump responsible.

In fact, one of the most striking findings in a number of recent polls is the extent to which a large portion of the electorate has given Trump a pass for his last year in office. For example, in an April CBS News poll of key battleground states, roughly 62 percent of registered voters in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin said that when they look back at 2020, their state’s economy was good. In the moment, however, a majority of voters in those states disapproved of Trump’s handling of the economy.

For the sake of additional context, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rates in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania in June 2019 were 4.1 percent, 3.2 percent and 4.2 percent. A year later, in June 2020, the unemployment rate had grown to 14.5 percent in Michigan, 8.7 percent in Wisconsin and 11.3 percent in Pennsylvania.

Unemployment is not, of course, the only measure of economic health. But it is an important one. And it is hard to say that an economy is firing on all cylinders when one in 10 people wants a job but can’t find one.

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