The impact of Trump’s illness - Hindustan Times
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The impact of Trump’s illness

Oct 04, 2020 07:25 PM IST

The rest of the world could have done without a further shot of uncertainty in the international system.

Covid-19 is, once again, proving to be a key determinant in the United States (US) election, with President Donald Trump testing positive. The virus has also taken down a chunk of his White House staff and even the Republican Party leadership. Presuming the president recovers, there is unlikely to be any major change in present voting patterns. The few polls that have come out since the announcement indicate previous trends remain unchanged, with Mr Trump holding to about 42% of the vote and Democratic candidate Joe Biden trending at 50% but slowly picking up undecided votes.

US President Donald Trump works in the Presidential Suite while receiving treatment after testing positive for the coronavirus disease, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, US, October 3, 2020(viaREUTERS)
US President Donald Trump works in the Presidential Suite while receiving treatment after testing positive for the coronavirus disease, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, US, October 3, 2020(viaREUTERS)

In the case of a temporary presidential incapacitation, there will be three likely consequences. One, with less than a month left before polls, it has eroded Mr Trump’s hopes of using his campaign rallies to move the needle in his direction. Two, it has further enhanced the sense of a seriously dysfunctional if not outright chaotic administration. Finally, and arguably most damaging, it has brought the US voting public’s focus back to the pandemic — the electoral issue on which Mr Trump fares the worst.

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The rest of the world could have done without a further shot of uncertainty in the international system. The gloating of the state-owned Chinese media at Mr Trump’s illness carries its own subtext. The real known unknown would be if Mr Trump’s health took a serious turn for the worse. If this were to happen just before or just after ballots are cast, the US constitution and its elaborate succession clauses would be severely tested. All of this would add to an already volatile mix of a superpower deeply polarised at home and facing major security challenges abroad.

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