WASHINGTON — For a very long time, Republicans have brandished the identical outdated narrative to attempt to scare their method into the White Home.

Their candidates have been offered because the patriarchs, defending the home from invaders with darkish pores and skin.

With Nixon, it was the Southern Technique, elevating alarms concerning the dismantling of Jim Crow legal guidelines.

With Reagan, it was launching his 1980 marketing campaign on fairgrounds close to the place the Klan murdered three civil rights activists.

With Bush senior, it was Willie Horton coming to stab you and rape your girlfriend.

With W. and Cheney, it was Qaeda terrorists coming again to kill us.

With Donald Trump, it was Mexican rapists and the Obama birther lie.

For re-election, Trump is sifting via the embers of the Civil Struggle, promising to guard America from “troublemakers” and “agitators” and “anarchists” rioting, looting and flattening statues that they discover racially offensive. “They mentioned, ‘We wish to get Jesus,’” Trump ominously informed Sean Hannity Thursday night time.

However Trump is badly out of step with the nationwide psyche. The precise narrative gripping America is, in the end, about white males in uniforms concentrating on black and brown individuals.

Within the final election, Trump milked white aggrievement to catapult himself into the White Home. However even Republicans today recognize that we’ve got to grapple with systemic racism and power some modifications in police conduct — aside from our president, who hailed stop-and-frisk within the Hannity interview.

The opposite scary narrative is about our “protean” enemy, as Tony Fauci calls Covid-19, which Trump pretends has disappeared, with deadly penalties. With no plan, he’s lowered to extra race-baiting, calling the virus “the China plague” and the “Kung Flu.” Nasty nicknames don’t work on illnesses.

The pathogen is roaring again within the South and the West in locations that buoyed Trump in 2016. Texas, Florida and Arizona are turning into Covid Calamity Land after many residents emulated their president and scorned masks and social distancing as a Commie hoax.

Is Trump’s perverse Southern Technique to ship the older women and men who’re a big a part of his base to the I.C.U.?

The president showed off his sociopathic flair by demanding the repeal of Obamacare — simply because he can’t stand that it was executed by Barack Obama. Thousands and thousands dropping their jobs and insurance coverage throughout a plague and he desires to eradicate their different? Willful maliciousness.

And this on the similar time he has been guaranteeing extra infections by lowballing the virus, resisting extra testing as a result of the numbers wouldn’t be flattering to him, sidelining Dr. Fauci and setting a horrible instance.

The Dow fell 700 factors on the information that Texas and Florida are ordering a Covid-driven final name, closing their bars once more, and the virus is revivifying in 30 states.

In 2016, the temper was in opposition to the established order, represented by Hillary Clinton. However now the temper is in opposition to chaos, cruelty, deception and incompetence, represented by Trump. In gentle of our tempestuous, vertiginous occasions, Joe Biden’s establishment appears comforting.

It’s a beautiful twist in historical past that the previous vice chairman was pushed aside in 2016 by the primary black president and put again within the sport this 12 months by pragmatic black voters.

Invoice Clinton was needy; he performed a sport with voters known as “How a lot do you like me?” Do you like me sufficient to forgive me for this embarrassing private transgression, or that one?

However Trump has taken that solipsism to the stratosphere, asking rallygoers in Tulsa to decide on him over their well being, probably their lives, recklessly turning a medical necessity right into a tribal signifier. I wasn’t stunned that so many seats there have been empty, however that so many have been crammed.

In a uncommon second of self-awareness, Trump whinged to Hannity about Biden: “The person can’t converse and he’s going to be your president ’trigger some individuals don’t love me, perhaps.”

It’s not solely the virus that Trump is willfully blind about. A Times story that broke Friday night was extraordinarily disturbing about Trump’s love of Vladimir Putin. American intelligence briefed the president a couple of Russian navy intelligence unit secretly providing bounties to Taliban-linked insurgents for killing coalition troops in Afghanistan, together with People. But Trump has nonetheless been lobbying for Putin to rejoin the G7.

Trump had an opportunity, with twin existential crises, to be higher after his abominable efficiency in his first three years. However then, we’ve recognized all alongside that he’s not taken with science, racial concord or main the basest parts of his base out of Dixie and into the 21st century. Sure, the child from Queens enjoys his newfound standing as a son of the Confederacy.

A Wall Street Journal editorial Thursday warned that he could possibly be defeated as a result of he has no message past private grievances and “4 extra years of himself.”

However Trump has at all times been about Trump. And the presidency was at all times going to distill him to his Trumpiest essence.

I requested Tim O’Brien, the Trump biographer, what to anticipate as the person obsessive about profitable faces humiliating rejection.

“He’ll descend additional into abuse, alienation and authoritarianism,” O’Brien mentioned. “That’s what he’s stewing on more often than not, the triple A’s.”

Good occasions.

The Instances is dedicated to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to listen to what you concentrate on this or any of our articles. Listed here are some tips. And right here’s our electronic mail: letters@nytimes.com.

Observe The New York Instances Opinion part on Facebook, Twitter (@NYTopinion) and Instagram.