Pundits believe coronavirus will bring down President Trump.They're wrong. If anything, he'll exploit it to try to stay in power.
There’s been plenty of punditry about why the coronavirus outbreak could end Donald Trump’s presidency. Most of it has come from blatantly anti-Trump outlets, which are desperate to see him ousted.
Too few people have considered that the opposite may be happening. The coronavirus could be the very thing that President Trump seeks to exploit to extend his stay in the White House.
America has grown so used to Trump’s rhetoric and lies that no one bats an eye when he makes yet another ridiculous statement.
Remember the weeks before the 2018 midterms? President Trump claimed that every congressional Democrat had signed up to an “open borders” bill.
They hadn’t, of course.
With Trump bringing our expectations of a president to depressing lows, who knows what he could try to do next.
Last May, President Trump retweeted a post by evangelical preacher Jerry Falwell Jr., who wrote:
Trump should have two years added to his 1st term as payback for time stolen by this corrupt failed coup.
Falwell is, of course, referring to accusations of collaboration with Russia. But the fact that Trump retweeted any post advocating that his presidential term exceed constitutional limits should have caused universal alarm.
It didn’t, though, because Trump does what Trump does. He retweets nonsense and makes outlandish statements all the time. This particular retweet quickly got lost in the shuffle – especially on the right.
Even worse, we’ve seen him “joke” repeatedly about extending his presidency beyond the two-term limit. He even openly admired Chinese president Xi Jinping’s limitless terms when he said:
He’s now president for life. President for life. No, he’s great. And look, he was able to do that. I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot someday.
Those who believe that the coronavirus will bring down President Trump underestimate his desire to retain power. They’re seemingly blind to how Trump goes about his business.
He’ll be encouraged by other leaders like Guiseppe Conte, who has effectively locked down Italy to combat the coronavirus.
President Trump will not want to appear weak on the world stage. Anything his fellow leaders can do, he can do better.
While he long downplayed coronavirus to try to prop up the stock market, his tone has shifted dramatically over the past few days. On Friday, he declared the outbreak a “national emergency.”
He isn’t crumbling, as many of his detractors believed he would. He’s doing what he always does. Identify the stance that best serves his aims and throw himself headfirst into pushing that agenda.
Nobody knows what the U.S. coronavirus outbreak will look like six months from now. If it’s still as terrifying in the weeks before the 2020 elections or – god forbid – has gotten worse, it would give him the perfect opportunity to attempt an unprecedented power-grab by postponing the election indefinitely.
Just long enough for the economy to recover and his odds to improve.
Faced with a pandemic, would Congress really argue against taking measures to prevent gatherings of people in voting stations across the country? We all know the MAGA crowd would fall in line.
Even the backup solution of voting by mail would be attacked by Trump and his zealots. The cries of election-fixing would be louder than ever.
It would be an unprecedented move, but we have seen the idea of postponing an election discussed under threat of terrorism, so why not the coronavirus?
Trump’s supporters are already preemptively justifying it on social media:
It certainly wouldn’t be easy, and under any other president, it would seem beyond the realm of the possible. But we know Donald Trump isn’t a typical president.
Trump feels he’s owed two years, and if he can’t get them by conventional methods? He’s hellbent on winning, so don’t expect him to rule anything out.
The coronavirus won’t be the downfall of Trump. It just may be what keeps in the White House.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of CCN.com.
This article was edited by Josiah Wilmoth.
Last modified: March 13, 2020 8:05 PM UTC