“LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” Trump Pours Gasoline on Mounting Tensions Over Stay-at-Home Orders

The latest signal that social distancing has turned into a culture war.

Paul Sancya/AP

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As the death toll from the coronavirus pandemic continues to rise, thousands across the country—many of whom were seen wearing MAGA hats and chanting “lock her up” in reference to Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer—took to the streets on Wednesday to protest stay-at-home orders that states have put in place to curb the spread of infections. 

The scenes were a kind of depressing manifestation of President Donald Trump’s own frustrations with the public health crisis and the social distancing measures—largely endorsed by his own administration—that he blames for tanking the economy. The hellish timeline continued on Friday with the president blurting out in quick succession:

The trio of tweets, which target states controlled by Democratic governors, is the latest signal that social distancing has fully warped into a culture war, one that depicts Democrats as oppressors willing to sabotage the economy and perhaps, in turn, the president’s reelection chances. The increasingly partisan dynamic comes as Trump’s poll numbers continue to slide amid his botched handling of the crisis.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Trump’s outburst seems to be linked to a segment he saw on Fox News.

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You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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