Given the speed with which the coronavirus pandemic has spread around the globe, and the surprising severity of its grip around the world, we have to be slightly forgiving of how politicians react to the ever-changing situation.
The reality is that their medical advisers will have never seen anything like this before, and while protocol are in place to deal to deal with such pandemics COVID-19 has proven to be an incredibly powerful opponent so far.
That said, you can deal with a crisis with grace and stoicism – although those aren’t two words you can typically use to describe Donald Trump.
The US President has lurched from denying the coronavirus even existed a couple of weeks ago to know offering a potentially economy-demolishing aid package of some $1000 for adults and $500 per child to combat the damage caused – still finding time to call it ‘this Chinese virus’, because he doesn’t want to stray too far from his message.
Such crises tend to be watershed moments in the career of politicians, and there’s a very fine line between heroism and villainy in how they react to the situation.
Trump’s bizarre meandering appears to have cost – he’s now a slight underdog in the US Presidential Election 2020 betting behind likely Democrat candidate Joe Biden, and with the pandemic expected to rumble on for months yet it will surely be a key factor in the voting decisions of the American public come November.
So will Trump get a grip of the situation, or will his fumblings prove to be his ultimate downfall?
A Little Sweetener
Of course, if you want to get people on side you could just offer them lots of money.
Trump’s plan to offer a considerable amount of money to US citizens affected by COVID-19 has been described by some pundits as potentially crippling to the United States economy, with an estimated cost of around $500 billion, but it’s a move that will certainly win voters over in the months leading up to the polls opening.
In little over a week, Trump has gone from calling hysteria over the coronavirus as a ‘distraction’ devised by the Democrats to stick the boot in, to announcing that America is in the grip of a ‘medical war’, deploying troops to bring calm and order to the streets (as their presence really does not do).
Medical officials have also criticised the President for being slow to approve the distribution of testing kits to facilities, and then there was also the accusation that he attempted to purchase the research into a vaccine from German scientists – on the proviso it would be used solely by the American populous.
It’s not exactly the sort of assured leadership that people look for in a crisis, and Trump’s appearance at a press conference on Thursday – with his perma-glow orange tan rather haphazardly applied – led many to the conclusion that the situation might just be growing too great for the man who vowed to make America great again.
On the Other Side
Of course, if you are going to lose an election then you need an opponent that has the support necessary to take care of business.
Donald Trump, for better or worse, will always have his supporters – that goes with the territory in far right politics, but there will always be a groundswell of opposition to his, erm, more divisionary leanings.
And that means the 2020 US election will be determined largely by those in the middle ground – the swinging voters who could yet be seduced by the red or the blue.
According to the polls and the betting odds, it seems as though Trump’s probable combatant in the vote will be Joe Biden.
He has streaked ahead in the Democratic primaries, and with some bookies he’s as short as 1/33 to convert that lead into leadership.
What we saw in the UK general election of 2019 is that you don’t fight fire with snowballs – or should that be snowflakes. Boris Johnson was, is and always will be a right-leaning leader, and as Labour found to their cost you won’t beat such hard-line politics with socialism – their election defeat was one of the heaviest in recent memory.
That’s why Democrat supporters should be relieved that Biden appears set to get the nod over Bernie Sanders. The latter is essentially Jeremy Corbyn across the pond, whereas Biden’s more centre-leaning politics will endear him far more to those middle-ground voters who will decide this, and most, elections.
At the time of writing, you could get odds of around events on both Trump and Biden to win the US Presidential election in the winter, which goes to show how finely balanced the political situation is right now in America.
But if Trump continues to fudge his way through the coronavirus containment and subsequent recovery, you can expect his price to lengthen considerably.