A few weeks ago, I laid out a detailed picture of the failures of Trump not only in his fecklessness to do what needs to be done to save human lives during a pandemic, but also detailing how those failures display gross, criminal negligence on the part of Trump and his Republican party.

Just to briefly recap–and to add in some new revelations since last writing about this–the following failures should never be forgotten:

These are alarming realities but should not be surprising. So, too, this is not even a comprehensive list; it’s just a few of the things I’ve personally found alarming in following the story closely.

But one of the more alarming stories is not being widely told and deserves more attention. And it’s not just an example of “failures” during the pandemic. To the contrary, this story is an American success story, if the Americans succeeding are the wealthiest 1%.

It revolves around a level of government corruption that makes the United States more like a banana republic than a democracy.

If you’ve been hearing about governors struggling to purchase ventilators, PPE, and other medical supplies, you’ll notice a common theme: these supplies keep disappearing en route to the states who have purchased them.

A few recent examples of this include the Feds seizing 5 million masks intended for veterans, 500 ventilators bound for Denver, and 1 million N95 masks intended for medical workers in Miami-Dade County. This behavior has become so bad that some states are using private planes to secretly smuggle in supplies so that the Feds won’t take them. In another example, the governor of Maryland worked secretly through his Korean wife to purchase testing supplies directly from the president of South Korea.

So, what’s really going on? Why are governors having to purchase supplies secretly like this? Well, it appears to be a grifting scam run by the Feds.

Early on, you’ll recall, the governors begged the Trump administration to enforce the Defense Production Act to mass-produce supplies at the national level. In a country with an intact democracy, this would have been the appropriate response, akin the kind of world war-like, uniting mobilization we saw in the 1940s. Instead, Trump told the governors they were on their own, and since the federal government would not help governors procure supplies, they began purchasing the equipment themselves, even though they were driving up prices by competing with one another for the same stockpile.

The whole thing is a way to launder money to Trump’s friends in the private sector, and perhaps even Trump himself. To pull it off, they disregarded the law as it was written by Congress, choosing to ignore the demand for oversight of the $2 trillion stimulus bill. This is partially why Trump has repeatedly gotten rid of Inspectors General who would hold him and his administration accountable.

Then, Republicans friendly with Trump set up fake companies less than three weeks old like Blue Flame Medical LLC, which despite having almost no employees, promised to fill an order of 100 million masks.

These companies then became a “middle man,” with the federal government selling equipment at a discounted price to the company, only having that price later driven up by governors competing with one another to purchase supplies. Meanwhile, FEMA seizes supplies to try to make sure governors are forced to purchase from the private companies to enrich Trump and his friends.

It should come as no surprise that, despite 26 million people filing for unemployment, America’s wealthiest elite have actually made $300+ billion since the start of COVID-19.

The wealthy, political elite, particularly Trump’s Republicans, do not care whether you or your family live or die during the pandemic. They care only about making money off your back, even off your death. For them, this is a zero-sum game, and you’re the zero.

Trump’s back-and-forth lies, confusion, and chaos jumping from what he did say to his claims he never said it are done with one clear goal in mind: an attempt to distract you from the reality that he and his friends are using this moment to ransack your hard-earned money and the money that keeps the government functioning in an attempt to consolidate wealth and power among the elite.

And where does this end? McConnell’s long-game plan to bankrupt the states is their wet dream. Once the states declare bankruptcy, these same friends of Trump will swoop in so that they now control our public services, too. Imagine all our public schools becoming “Betsy DeVos Christian Academy.” Imagine your local police force and firefighter station being owned by someone like former private military CEO of Blackwater, Erik Prince. How do you think minorities and the poor are going to fare in that America, given how little worth black and brown bodies have in the one we already live in?

For all those years conservatives screamed they needed their guns to fight off tyranny, they seem not to realize that tyranny is here, now, among us, is actually from their own party, and is more than happy to count them dead. Or maybe they are the tyranny, too stupid to realize they, too, are just pawns in a bigger scam.

We no longer live in a democracy. The America we grew up in no longer exists. We’ve ceded our freedoms to those who could buy and trash them. And our time to fight back is running out.

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