On checking my phone this morning, I was met with a screen filled with news alerts all reporting what could turn out to be one of the most disruptive events in an already chaotic 2020 presidential election: Donald Trump and wife Melania have tested positive for COVID-19.
The news was broken – where else? – on Trump’s twitter feed in the early hours of Friday morning, and, in the absence of any further updates, media outlets across the world have been speculating on the twists and turns that this election rollercoaster may take us on next. It’s been a wild old ride so far, and it looks like things are only going to get crazier. Here’s the story so far:
ELECTION? THERE’S AN ELECTION?!
Just in case you’ve been living under a rock for the last few months, here are the main facts:
the 59th US presidential election will take place on Tuesday 3rd November. Incumbent President Donald Trump (a Republican) is running for his second term, alongside Vice President Mike Pence. On the other side, challenger Joe Biden is running for the Democrats, together with Kamala Harris – a black woman – as his VP.
(Now if you’d kindly point me in the direction of that rock, I may just crawl under it myself until COVID is over).
WHO’S LIKELY TO WIN?
Polls have shown Biden to have a healthy lead over the last few weeks, but we’d be foolish to read too much into this. Hillary Clinton was also predicted to win in 2016, and we all know how that went.
However, with a defeat seeming more likely than not, Trump has repeatedly sought to undermine the credibility of the election, claiming that an increase in postal voting will result in widespread election fraud, and a “fake” result. His underlying message is that if he loses, he will not accept the result. This, to be blunt, is scary AF.
COULD HE BE FAKING HAVING THE VIRUS TO BETTER HIS CHANCES OF WINNING THE ELECTION?
Conspiracy theorists are having a field day today, speculating that perhaps this is a wild stunt designed to throw the election off course, and maybe even get the election date pushed back (something Trump has previously tried and failed to achieve).
I have thought this through long and hard, and my conclusion at this moment is that there are WAY more negatives than positives for Trump as a result of him testing positive for COVID-19. They include:
- Trump and his hardcore supporters do not take the coronavirus seriously
Despite having 20% of the world’s COVID-19 deaths, President Trump has continually downplayed the importance of taking precautions against the coronavirus, encouraging his supporters to attend crowded, mask-free rallies, and even mocking Joe Biden for wearing a mask “too much” in their first presidential debate this week. He’s 74 years old and clinically obese, so only time will tell as to how badly the virus affects him. But one thing’s for sure, he can’t claim it’s a hoax anymore.
- It makes him look weak
Now a normal human being would not bash someone’s immune system for allowing the coronavirus to breach its defences. But as we know, Trump is no Average Joe. In the 2016 election, he questioned Hillary’s suitability to be president when she got a cough – yes, you read that right – during one of their debates. And over the last few months, he’s repeatedly called opponent Joe Biden old, feeble-minded and weak (he’s three years older than Trump, for the record!). So it seems pretty logical to conclude that the president will be devastated at how COVID-19 will reflect on him as – in his own words – “the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency”.
- He’ll have to miss at least three rallies
Okay sure, Trump performed abysmally at the first of the three presidential debates this week, and he’s probably quite pleased to have an excuse to skip the second one, which is scheduled for 14th October. However, he will also miss three rallies over this time. And in case you didn’t know, Trump LOVES a rally. A room full of adoring, mask-free, closely packed superfans, going wild for everything he says? Yep, that’s where Trump wants to be. What’s more, every time a candidate appears and speaks in public, campaign donations come flooding in. So not only is he missing out on a chance to be adulated, he is also unable to bring in the much-needed Benjamins to continue supporting his campaign marketing.
In short, being out of the race, even for only ten days if he turns out to be asymptomatic, could definitely impact the election result, and not in a good way. For a candidate that’s already trailing, today’s news can’t be seen as anything but disastrous. I, for one, can’t wait to see how the next few days play out.