Donald Trump’s Coronavirus Infection Is The Ultimate “October Surprise” | American News


Tits year has already been one of the strangest and most unpredictable election years in living memory. The president faced an impeachment trial. A deadly disease swept across the country, devastating the economy. A seat on the Supreme Court has opened and is in the process of being filled a few days before the elections. Above all of this is a president who refuses to promise that he will accept the outcome of the election. The traditional “October surprise” was going to have to be huge to get noticed in the midst of it all.

But, being 2020, this year has not failed to deliver. Donald Trump has tested positive for the coronavirus. To be sure, this might not qualify strictly as a “surprise” – given the president’s insistence on ignoring even the most basic precautions against the virus, this development seems almost inevitable. But now that that has happened, it injects an enormous degree of uncertainty not only into the race between Trump and challenger Joe Biden, but also into the stability and security of the country in the weeks to come.

The effect on the campaign depends on the disease course of the president and other infected people. Biden and Vice President Mike Pence tested negative today, but that doesn’t mean they’re still in the clear. Trump himself – who is reportedly only experiencing “mild” symptoms on Friday night – has been hospitalized at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and is receiving experimental drug treatment. There he could recover quickly or become seriously ill. Dangerous symptoms usually develop after a week, and we don’t yet know when Trump was infected.

If Trump becomes seriously ill, the country will be in uncharted territory. Since Teddy Roosevelt was shot in 1912, a candidate has not entered the final phase of the campaign while suffering from a debilitating illness. As sick as he is, Trump will likely insist on staying on the ballot.

Whether or not he develops a serious case, Trump’s diagnosis is unlikely to change the state of the race. Trump could come out unscathed and attempt to present his own experience as proof that the virus has never been so severe after all. But the coronavirus is not an abstract problem that Americans learn only through the media. Nothing the President sees or says will bring dead relatives back to life or give someone back a job they lost.

If Trump becomes seriously ill, we can expect voices to rise from the right in favor of postponing or canceling the election. A delay would require congressional approval and is almost impossible to imagine. It’s easier to imagine that Trump’s illness could be used to deepen the narrative that the election was illegally stolen from him. Much of the right-wing media is already promoting a mail-in ballot conspiracy theory, and as a result much of the country is on the verge of rejecting the outcome if Trump loses. If the president is unable to campaign for a while, he will have another excuse to make his supporters question the validity of the result.

The risks for the country are not only electoral. The Presidency is an office with serious responsibilities and impressive powers. Trump has never embraced the serious side of the job, and much of the government has been forced to go on autopilot for lack of presidential guidance. But that doesn’t mean Trump can’t issue big and dangerous orders if he wants to. He commands a nuclear arsenal destined for abroad and a repressive apparatus which he seems to like to target at home.

Coronavirus patients consistently report experiencing brain fog, confusion, and difficulty concentrating on routine tasks. Any president would be hesitant to admit he was not up to the election, and Trump is far too narcissistic to do so. This means that all of his power will remain in hands which may become even more unstable than usual. Knowing 2020, the real The October surprise may still be coming, and we don’t know if the president will be able to respond to it. Given the President’s narcissism, contempt for science, and addiction to lying, we probably won’t know until it’s too late.

The neglect that led Trump to place the country in this predicament is just another manifestation of the recklessness with which he has approached all aspects of his job as head of the nation. He has done untold damage, and we must not lose sight of him just because the last victim of the Trump era is Trump himself. America, and not just the President, is in desperate need of recovery. For this reason, we must wish the President a speedy recovery, a devastating electoral defeat and a long and ignominious retirement. Only then can the real healing begin.


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