Beyond recovery

So, Donald Trump didn’t suffer too badly as a result of contracting coronavirus, which isn’t too surprising, since most people, even in his demographic, do pull through, and being President of the United States, with a whole team of doctors dedicated to his care, and access to cutting-edge therapy, won’t have hurt either.

This was clearly a good outcome for him personally, but politically it’s been more mixed. His aura of invincibility may have been enhanced, in the eyes of his more fanatical supporters, but his continuing dismissal of the seriousness of the pandemic, based only on his personal experience, has only furthered his reputation as a cold-hearted narcissist. Implying that those who have succumbed to the disease are weak-willed losers will hardly endear him to sections of the population who have suffered disproportionate fatalities, and will particularly alienate older voters, one of the groups that he really needs to stay loyal to him if he is to have any chance of victory.

With a week to go until polling day, and with record numbers of voters having already cast their ballots, Joe Biden looks almost certain to win the popular vote. Of course, as we learned last time around, that alone won’t be enough to put him in the White House, but the numbers in the states that will decide the Electoral College are looking good for him too, so Trump’s options are rapidly narrowing.

Trump’s best chance probably lies in disrupting the poll, by questioning the validity of postal ballots, and encouraging vigilantes to intimidate minority voters, in the hope that this will create enough uncertainty around the results in key battlegrounds to allow his allies in the state governments to award him the Electors even if he loses the popular vote. Such manoeuvres would inevitably end up before the Supreme Court, hence his haste to confirm a sympathetic new Justice.

We can only hope that the Democrats get enough of their vote out to put the result so far beyond reasonable doubt that even Trump’s most ardent enablers balk at the shenanigans that would be required to overturn it. Failing that, we may be looking at a campaign of civil disobedience to defend what is left of bourgeois democracy in the US, with an outcome which would be far from certain.

Corona karma

The UK may not lead the world in much these days, but we were one of the first countries to have our head of government go down with Covid-19. Now that our transatlantic cousins have belatedly caught up, what effect will that have on the forthcoming election?

Obviously one does not wish ill-health upon a 74 year old man, even Donald Trump, but it is tempting to imagine some cosmic justice at play here, given Trump’s woeful response to the pandemic emergency, and the suffering that has resulted for ordinary US citizens.

However Trump is a man who seems always to fall on his feet; if (admittedly a big if) this does not kill him, it may, as the saying goes, make him stronger.

Trump will either shrug the infection off, or he will get very sick. The former scenario will both further his reputation among his followers as some kind of übermensch, and confirm his contention that the whole coronavirus thing is no big deal, while in the latter circumstances he will benefit from a surge of sympathy, and his QAnon disciples will be galvanised by the conviction that his illness is a cover for a deep-state plot to kill him.

Of course there is a third possibility – Trump may be humbled by a brush with mortality, and emerge from the ordeal a better man. That seems a bit of a long shot though…