With the coronavirus pandemic, many states have postponed their primaries election, and of course, the president of the country has been under a lot of pressure with the given situation. It is completely reasonable for the leader of the country to mandate a national stay at home orders to prevent further spread of the disease and protect the people. However, as the quarantine continues many people have decided that the stay at home orders have protracted way too long which has brought inconveniences to many, and as others claim have limited their liberties. On April 15th Michigan has seen the first protest against the lockdown. Thousands of cars descended on the state capital with angry residents protesting Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s (democrat) stay at home orders. Same story with Minnesota (Democratic governor). Although the two states are mostly democratic, the majority of protestors were republicans. According to the New York Times (Michael D. Shear and Sarah Mervosh), Mr. Trump responded to the protests on social media “Liberate Michigan!”, “Liberate Minnesota!” thus encouraging people to protest against governors who have established stay at home orders.
As President Trump continues shifting back and forth between attempts at bipartisanship and encouraging his core supporters to go out and protest during such critical time, it is evident that he is not completely sure what the next course of action should be and that his main agenda is not the people but rather a reelection for the next term. “Openly supporting those who challenge the stay at home orders could help the president re-energize the coalition of conservative Republicans and working-class populists who agree with the anti-government sentiment that helped power Mr. Trump’s election victory in 2016”  (New York Times, Michael D. Shear and Sarah Mervosh). It is no secret that the current president often times has shown anti-establishment behavior by delegitimizing many of the core democratic institutions. For instance, in his work, Robert C. Liberman states that public confidence in American democracy has been decaying, and president Trump only exacerbates it. “Trump has openly derided many of the core institutions of democratic governance: the independent press, the judiciary, the bureaucracy, the validity of elections, the legitimacy of democratic contestation and opposition, and the centrality of facts to political discourse…he has signaled support and appreciation for the fascist white nationalist mobilization that has surged since his inauguration” Such a delegitimizing attitude towards opposing parties and government, in general, is especially conspicuous during the time of quarantine.
In addition to the challenges president Trump imposed on the democratic governors of Michigan and Minnesota by encouraging his supporters to protest, he also criticized in his tweets the governor of New York Andrew M. Cuomo for not spending more time doing things but complaining. This evoked governor Cuomo to respond to the president that it is impossible to completely reopen the economy without having enough testing kits and help from the government, to which president responded that New York has received a lot of help from the federal government and that they should be thankful.
Besides denunciating democratic governors for their actions during such an unprecedented time, President Trump is also trying to push the responsibility and the anger his response to the pandemic may have caused, toward the democratic governors, as claimed by Michael D. Shear and Sarah Mervosh. This is yet another problem of an incompetent politician. According to Seymour Lipset, a legitimate government is the one that is effective and is capable at solving problems, being an outsider and a populist leader, the current president by not willing to take the responsibility of his decisions that most of the times are based on self-interest, is showing that he is the one who is actually wrong and not the governors whom he delegitimizes.
Certainly, his actions and responses to the situation in the country cannot be condemned, as a president, he more or less is trying to help to alleviate the situation, however, what underlies behind his actions is what we should be concerned about. As articulated by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt in “How Democracies Die” preservation of democratic norms such as mutual toleration and institutional forbearance is crucial in preventing deterioration of democracy. Delegitimization of democrats and anti-government rhetoric could greatly aggravate already backsliding democracy.
Furthermore, as mentioned previously, those who protest and support president Trump in general are mostly working-class populists who agree with the anti-government sentiment. These groups of people are the result of growing socioeconomic inequality and lack of cultural homogeneity in America. Polarization and the radicalization of the white working class devalues the democratic norms mentioned before, to the extent where any policy that favors opposing group is seen as a loss for them, thus toleration becomes harder to sustain. (Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt).
To conclude, the encouragement for his supporters to protest democratic leaders against stay at home orders is an expected demeanor of president Trump. And as long as there is a partisan leader who delegitimizes opposition and holds anti-government sentiment, the polarization will persist, and as long as it is not moderated, people who support such leaders will only increase in number. Although it won’t be easy to decrease polarization but it is not impossible. People have to move past identity politics, rather than concentrating on differences we should try to use our similarities to create coalitions with shared interest to promote public good and preserve democracy.
 Michael D. Shear and Sarah Mervosh, New York Times, 2020
 Robert C. Liberman, “Trumpism and American Democracy”, 2017
This is a very interesting topic to read about and was very well written. It is interesting to see how people can divide so quickly and be blindly lead around in the midst of a pandemic. Do you think some people are following him out of fear of the unknown of the pandemic? Or do you think this separation is more extreme because of COVID-19?