I wanted to write a math-heavy article. I spent time yesterday tracking down as many numbers as I could so I could answer as accurately as possible one question: what direct effect will the President’s novel coronavirus response have on his election?
I started with a few basic assumptions: that there would be no shift away or to the Republican and Democrat in this election, that the Libertarian vote would be evenly split to R and D… assumptions which would favor President Trump, so that the final scenario I presented would be the rosiest possible outlook. This way, the bad news from the number crunching would foreshadow even worse news from the election.
This is because he’s going to cause many of his constituents to die. By allowing the covid-19 virus to spread with no significant response for seven weeks, not addressing the problem until plans had already been made for Spring Break by thousands of young adults who’d been repeatedly assured it was not really a concern, the status of the disease in this country is on his shoulders. Not the fact that it grew to epidemic proportions, that fault lies on China; and not the fact that it came here at all, that was effectively inevitable. But the response, the preparedness, and the active spread of the disease in the United States can all be traced to him.
Republicans have joked for years that the Democrats, through their adoration of abortion on demand, have been killing potential Democrats and working to lose that ideological war. It’s not a completely accurate point… many pro-life kids have become pro-choice adults for various reasons… but the general sentiment has some validity. What the Republicans are facing now is the same phenomenon, where their political choices are resulting in premature deaths of the elderly… elderly who tend to slant Republican in their politics and who are more likely to get to the polls to vote.
And it’s not just the elderly; this disease is attacking a lot of younger people, especially males… again, a demographic which leans toward supporting Trump. It may well be that the reason for the demographic split is the urging of the President and his supporters that there’s nothing to fear from the disease. Even now, as Trump has finally pivoted to treating the danger seriously, his supporters in Republican punditry are continuing the message he’d set weeks ago, downplaying the concern… and Trump himself is signalling he may not be willing to take a temporary financial strike in exchange for public safety.
I wanted to do the numbers, but there’s something more important: Trump’s gut. Because this is the end result of all of our warnings.
President Trump seems outmatched by this crisis. He is… but really, this is nothing new. He’s been unable to handle most crises placed before him, and that has likely been true for more than three years. Rather than think about anything or consult experts, he has consistently reacted by trusting “his gut”. He makes a choice more or less at random based on his ego, and expects everything to turn out well.
It is the manifestation of the Race Horse Theory of which we have written, the eugenicist belief Trump directly taught to his children. He believes he has been bred to automatically make the best choice possible. The inanity of that concept escapes him, but it doesn’t matter… the key is that the Republican party has worked diligently for three years to make it seem true.
No matter what terrible choice he made, it has been defended and excused. Whether sucking up to Russia, elevating North Korea, abandoning free markets in favor of tariffs, purging the government of experienced and expert officeholders in favor of loyalists, pursuing obvious kickbacks and conflicts of interest, stealing children from families, backstabbing our Kurdish allies on the battlefield, attacking the other members of the G-7, or elevating unfit judges amidst the qualified ones, he’s been a mess on a weekly basis and the Republicans have held him up and praised him while scrambling to put out his fires.
It is little wonder that he seems to believe he can wish away the novel coronavirus. What is amazing is that people think he will recognize that he cannot.
This is a man with more than seventy years of experience of the world comporting itself to suit his whims. The Republicans were not the first to do this; it happened in the past when his failed real estate decisions were covered by his father’s wealth, and, after his father’s death, when his catastrophic business decisions were not allowed to directly hurt him because banks, invested heavily in his image, continued extending him credit. Even after the banks stopped supporting him, there was General Electric with a television contract on their channel, NBC; after the show’s ratings plummeted, there were foreign banks ready to protect him.
Trump is not someone who can learn. It is foolishness to believe otherwise. He will continue to go with “his gut”, which in this case means believing the most foolishly optimistic possibilities set before him because they will be beneficial. He will believe that a drug cocktail with anecdotal evidence supporting some level of symptom mitigation equates to “a cure”. He will believe, contrary to current evidence, that an increase in UV exposure in Summer months will kill off the virus and that it will just disappear on its own. He will believe anything… and it will get people killed.
The numbers are still there, waiting to be crunched. His win was thin in many states last time; the deaths from his supporters alone may be enough to flip some of those states in November, and that’s before there are any shifts away from a man whose virus response has been slapdash and whose stock market and economy have tanked across his four year leadership. While there is every reason to pursue a win with all effort possible, learning from the lesson of the tortoise and the hare, the fact remains that Trump’s re-election is unlikely and growing more so every day.
Our hope is that it doesn’t come via the deaths of too many Americans, due to the action and inaction of a political cult.