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There was a time when candidates ran on their ability to get things done. Today, the Republican president campaigns by hobbling the U.S. Postal Service to reduce mail-in votes, revives birtherism claims by wrongly questioning the birthplace citizenship of Kamala Harris and mindlessly promotes fictional conspiracies.

Why?

He is using the old sales manipulation technique of instilling fear, uncertainty and doubt into the customer’s mind. And you are the customer.

Here’s how and why.

Prior to the pandemic, the president says, he built the greatest economy the country has ever seen and can do it again. He didn’t.

He and his collaborators passed a tax cut that reduced government income by about $1.7 trillion. They then failed to cut the cost of government to pay for it.

Rather, they said economic growth would cover the loss. It hasn’t. They spent next year’s anticipated raise this year.

But then, they inexplicably increased government defense expenditures. President Trump said at the time, “... a strong military is “more important” than a balanced budget ... .”

So, why did he advocate for a tax cut if he knew he needed to increase defense spending? I don’t know.

Nevertheless, taxes for businesses and many individuals went down, and their cash went up. With that, businesses and consumers bought more and the Gross Domestic Product (businesses’ total sales added together) went up.

Times were good, but they weren’t.

We refinanced our house and used the extra money for a trip to Disney World.

How did the government then make ends meet? It borrowed. Ironically, a fair amount came from China.

Overall, the national debt (like our house mortgage) went up, from $19.5 trillion when Trump took office to over $22 trillion at the end of 2019. So, while the economy, measured by Gross Domestic Product (gross sales) improved, it did so with borrowed money. His administration has spent more than it took in each year he’s been in office.

So, we just felt flush. We weren’t flush.

The reason we keep cash on hand and maintain borrowing power is so we can withstand adversity when it occurs, not if.

Well, adversity occurred in 2020 with the pandemic.

No wonder the president was so vociferous in denying it wouldn’t be an issue. No wonder he then encouraged states to reopen quickly. No wonder he’s encouraging schools to reopen classrooms hastily now.

Why? It’s all about the economy, as you know. The president, business owners, employees and even I want the economy to recover quickly. Unfortunately, it won’t until there’s a solution to the pandemic, and no amount of jaw-boning will speed that along.

As German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, “... the pandemic can’t be fought with lies and disinformation ... .”

Since we won’t have an economic recovery before Election Day, what does the president have to run on?

Fear, uncertainty and doubt.

It’s an old sales technique. “Yes, you can buy their product, but are you sure it will last as long? Besides, I’ve heard that company is going bankrupt and their experienced people are quitting already.”

That’s why Trump has made an issue of the USPS. That’s why he said of Kamala Harris, “I heard today that she doesn’t meet the requirements [to serve as vice president] ...” And that’s why he mentions so many conspiracy theories that “he’s heard” or “someone said” without attribution.

He’s stoking fear, uncertainty and doubt into our minds.

After all, what does he have to show for his time in office? Management of the economy? Response to the pandemic? Standing up to Russia when they put a bounty on the heads of our service men and women? Improved standing with our NATO allies?

He’s not even going to the polls to vote as he says you should. He and Melania both requested absentee ballots to vote in Palm Beach County, Florida.

Guess he hasn’t heard that his ballot probably won’t arrive in time to count. Someone told me that.

Tom Crouser is a business consultant

who lives in Mink Shoals. Reach him at tom@crouser.com and follow

@TomCrouser on Twitter. Also connect

via Facebook and LinkedIn