For Americans, the most surreal election cycle in a century just got even more surreal.
We are attempting to conduct an election in which the entire direction of the country hangs in the balance during a global pandemic and lockdown — and the incumbent president just contracted a potentially fatal illness mere weeks before the election.
To say that this is uncharted territory is an understatement.
If Trump dies, who takes his place — not as president (we have a line of succession for that) but as a candidate? The vice president doesn’t automatically become the party nominee. Many Americans have already voted.
As a result, much of the country breathed a sigh of relief when Trump spoke from Walter Reed Hospital on Saturday.
He seemed subdued but relatively fit and lucid. He sounded pragmatic, aware of the dangers but confident.
Statistics show that the vast majority of Covid-19 patients his age (74) actually do survive with only moderate symptoms, and Trump is benefiting from the medical community’s six months of practical, front-line experience in treating Covid-19.
The consensus among average Americans (that is, those not working for CNN or throwing Molotov cocktails at the police) appears to be that Trump’s Covid-19 crisis may well help him win re-election.
Even far-left Democrats seem to sense this.
The widespread conspiracy theory in left-wing circles — that Trump is faking his Covid-19 diagnosis to win sympathy — appears to confirm this judgement.
More than that, Trump is handling his diagnosis with quiet grace and uncharacteristic dignity.
He appears confident but not cocky, fully aware that he is at risk due to his age. (He joked that his wife Melania, also afflicted, is “just a few years” younger than he is but that this makes a positive difference for her.)
What’s more, the contrast between Trump speaking at the hospital (weakened by Covid-19) and his opponent Joe Biden couldn’t be more stark.
Trump at his weakest seems more energetic and quicker on his feet than Joe Biden reading prepared remarks from a teleprompter.
That may sound like a partisan comment but, to Americans watching from their homes, it’s simply a fact.
Even Democrats know this — which is why they’re more worried than they let on.
Biden often seems exhausted and confused, barely able to string a sentence together.
What people outside the country often fail to understand is that Americans are and always have been a pragmatic people, motivated more by results than by ideology.
Over the decades, we’ve voted for conservative Republicans like Ronald Reagan… progressive Democrats like Barack Obama… and national populists like Donald Trump.
We don’t put a lot of stock in platforms and promises. Americans like results.
If the country is better off after you ran things for a while, we tend to give you and your party a second chance. If things are worse, you’re out.
For example, Americans by and large liked Bill Clinton. As a southerner, he was an instinctive moderate on economic and even many social issues, more willing to cajole than to condemn. His wife, on the other hand, was and is widely disliked precisely because she comes across as a hectoring ideologue.
By this standard, Trump fared pretty well, at least before the Covid-19 crisis hit.
And with the exception of the media class, which almost universally despises him, most Americans (56%) still think Trump will win re-election.
He’s precisely what he appears to be: a crass, no-nonsense, but mostly pragmatic businessman who just wants to get things done.
Before Covid-19 hit, the economy was doing far better than everyone expected. The stock market hit record highs; unemployment hit record lows.
Even with Covid-19, Trump’s record is not as bad as the Democrats and their media allies portray it.
Trump’s natural instinct has been not to shut down the entire economy, as the Democrats and many of his health advisers wanted. He acted quickly to ban travel from China, the source of the virus, but hesitated when asked to trigger an historic global Depression.
The problem the Democrats have always had is that they believe their own press releases.
They tell each other and their media allies that Trump’s reluctance to shut down businesses proves his incompetence and ill will.
But to ordinary Americans who depend upon those same businesses to feed their children, Trump’s reluctance comes off more as realism and compassion.
Even if he did fail to act quickly enough, and that is highly debatable, Americans understand that Trump didn’t want to destroy the country if he didn’t have to.
By contrast, they also understand that, if Joe Biden is elected, the country will likely remain on semi-permanent lockdown for years to come — and will quickly become like Democrat-run New York or California where the majority of deaths have occurred.
A final thought. You can forget the polls. If the 2016 election taught Americans anything, it’s how inaccurate and unreliable media polls really are. The polls, paid for and often conducted by Trump’s self-acknowledged enemies, consistently showed that Hillary Clinton was going to win in a landslide and that Trump had “no hope” of winning.
Again, the media just read Democratic Party press releases verbatim and pretended it was journalism.
We are hearing the same line again this time — and most Americans with any brains don’t believe a word of it. Even many of the pollsters themselves don’t believe it.
Trump will almost certainly recover from Covid-19. This will allow him to speak with greater authority about one of the greatest crises facing the country.
Americans will go to the polls — in just a few weeks — and ask themselves a simple question:
Do they want the guy they saw speaking from Walter Reed Hospital in charge… or the frail and often incoherent figurehead the Democrats have put forward?
It’s true, anything could happen during this crazy time. Mail-in balloting could allow the Democrats to seize power and put Kamala Harris (I mean, Joe Biden) in charge.
But my prediction is that America’s allegedly mythical silent majority, horrified by the senseless rioting and looting encouraged by the Democrats, will give Trump a second chance.
If Trump recovers from Covid-19, he will once again defy the comically certain media consensus — and win re-election. Just watch.