The US and World Economies Catch the Flu

Former Clinton strategist, James Carville, had one thing right when he hammered home the following mantra to his campaign workers, “It’s the economy, stupid.” And indeed, President Bill Clinton unseated George H.W. Bush and won the presidency by relentlessly pointing out that the then-prevailing recession was the fault of the man in charge and Clinton was the one man who could fix it.

Fast forward to early 2020 and the booming US economy under President Trump was one of his undeniable achievements and a bulletproof platform he could employ in his reelection bid. The stock market had reached historic highs, unemployment dropped to previously unforeseen lows, and the brash American businessman was not shy about taking all the credit. There are many issues that concern Americans to one degree or another but the economy is a universal truth that speaks to all walks of life and political persuasions.

However, Trump’s crowning glory was about to take a precipitous tumble due to the global pandemic known as COVID-19. Suddenly the world was in lockdown and businesses were shuttered, some temporarily while others permanently. The stock market fell swiftly, unemployment soared, and Americans were suddenly wondering how they were going to pay the bills and put food on the table.

As of this writing, the pandemic still grips us, although there are optimistic signs that the effects of social distancing and quarantine precautions have manifested in a flattening of the curve, and a return to some semblance of normalcy looms in the not so distant future. It’s a ray of sunshine in what has been a bleak 10 weeks. But how we exit this crisis and where we stand shortly before the first Tuesday in November could very well tell the tale of who will be the next Commander-in-Chief of the United States.

Will Trump be Blamed?

The US economy will be a major key for the November 2020 election and it’s fair to wonder whether Donald Trump will be remembered at the voting booths for the economy he built in his first three years or what the novel coronavirus did to it in the last year of his inaugural term. Trump is a polarizing personality and his supporters are rabid, cult-like, and unwavering in their affection for all things Trump. However, his detractors, of which there are many, are equally resolute in their utter contempt for the man and everything for which he stands.

The Democrats insist Trump did not act swiftly enough in January when reports began to filter that there was a serious problem in Wuhan, China that could affect the entire world. However, Republicans will counter that Trump immediately suspended travel to China in the early going while Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi hinted at racism and said the following, “We should come to Chinatown,” she said outside the Dim Sum Corner Restaurant on Grant Avenue. “Precautions have been taken by our city. We know that there is concern surrounding tourism … but we think it’s very safe to be in Chinatown and hope that others will come.”

Well, it wasn’t safe, especially in February, and before government mandates stated all non-essential businesses should be closed and citizens quarantined unless they needed to buy groceries or essential items, and only then would they be permitted to do so with protective masks. But that doesn’t mean Donald Trump was immaculate in his initial handling of the global pandemic, as testing kits, ventilators, and a cohesive response were absent in the early going.

The long and short of all of this is that Trump’s base will vote for Trump come hell or high water while his detractors would vote for a ham sandwich before they would cast a ballot for him. This election will be decided by the moderates and whether they blame Trump for the economic collapse that has gripped the nation. Most of those moderates will come to the undeniable conclusion that COVID-19 was an invisible, and invincible, force that would have forced business closures no matter who was president.

Moreover, those who do work for a living and whose financial future is in dire peril prefer Trump’s “open the economy sooner than later” approach as opposed to the leading Democrats who wish to extend the quarantine with a “one death is too many” view that exacerbates the already catastrophic financial effects of a nation in crisis. Donald Trump may not get reelected in November but it won’t be the economy that dooms him, it will most likely be his rhetoric.

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