Picking the political winners from a potential catastrophe is a tough and morally questionable exercise. However, we need to start thinking about the potential fall out from Coronavirus.
Fortunately, the effects of coronavirus in America are theoretical now. Unfortunately, events overseas show COVID-19 can devastate regions, cities, and countries.
Frighteningly, Coronavirus has killed over 10,000 people in Italy, CNN reports. On the positive side, other countries appear to have COVID-19 under control. Notably, Johns Hopkins University and Medicine estimates the number of Coronavirus deaths in China at 3,299.
What Does History Say?
Hence, Coronavirus could greatest crisis to hit the United States since the Great Depression. Notably, the Great Depression led to a political paradigm shift in the New Deal.
Interestingly, America’s last true pandemic the Spanish Flu of 1918 led to a political paradigm shift. In 1918, voters punished the Democrats for a bungled response to the Spanish Flu.
In 1918., Republicans gained 24 seats in the House of Representatives and six seats in the U.S. Senate. However, it is unclear if voters were reacting to the Flu, or the unpopular decision to enter World War I on the Allied side.
Notably most Americans opposed entry into the War in 1917. However, Congress and President Woodrow Wilson (D-New Jersey) ignored popular opinion and declared war.
History Shows Voters could Punish Trump for Coronavirus
Moreover, Republican Warren G. Harding (R-Ohio) won the 1920 Presidential election by a landslide.
In detail, Harding won 404 Electoral College Votes to Democrat James M. Cox’s (D-Ohio) 127 votes. In fact, Cox lost every state outside the “Solid South” in 1920. To explain, in 1920 memories of the Civil War: which Southerners blamed on the Republican Party, were still fresh. However, you can argue the election of 1920 was about World War I.
Therefore, America’s last pandemic triggered an electoral upheaval that transformed the political landscape. Notably, Americans did not elect another Democrat president until after the Depression began in 1932. Thus, a probable outcome from Coronavirus is a complete rebuke of Republicans and President Donald J. Trump (R-New York).
Probable Political Losers from Coronavirus
The 1918 example shows us that President Donald J. Trump (R-Florida) is the most probable political casualty of Coronavirus.
Trump is the public face of the Coronavirus because he is president. Hence, the Donald has to be on TV and discussing the virus every day. Thus, voters will associate the President with a deadly disease.
I think this behavior is similar to the way voters punish Presidents and Congresses for controversial wars. Historically, voters associated past presidents with wars fought in their terms. For example, voters punished Wilson for World War I, Harry S. Truman (D-Missouri) for the Korean War, Lyndon Johnson (D-Texas) for the Vietnam War, and George W. Bush’s (R-Texas) Republicans for the Iraq War.
Voters will even punish politicians for winning a controversial war. In particular, President George H.W. Bush lost reelection in 1992 despite an impressive victory in the First Iraq or Gulf War.
Given this pattern, I think voters will punish Trump for Coronavirus.
Congress will Suffer from Coronvarius at the Polls
Two other probable losers are U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky). Both Pelosi and McConnell are already unpopular Trump.
For instance, Gallup estimates Congressional Democrats had a 57% approval rating and Pelosi had a 39% approval rating in February 2020. Meanwhile, Gallup estimates Congressional Republicans had a 35% approval rating in February 2020. In contrast, Gallup estimates McConnell had a 33% approval rating in February 2020.
Note: Gallup’s poll was conducted before Congress passed the $2 trillion stimulus and $1,200 payments to most Americans on 26 March 2020.
Thus, I expect to see major changes in Congress in January 2021 as a result of Coronavirus. However, the stimulus could change some voters’ minds.
Political Winners from Coronavirus
The obvious Coronanvirus winner in American politics is Joe Biden (D-Delaware), the Democratic presidential front runner.
Unlike Trump, Biden has the ability to lay low and stay out of the public eye until the worst of the crisis passes. Consequently, the public will not associate Biden with Coronavirus or its effects.
Instead, Trump gets all the blame. Moreover, Biden can avoid the distasteful position of attacking the nation’s leader in a time of national crisis.
Predictably, many pundits claim Biden disappeared as the pandemic exploded. Hence, Biden understands the political implications of the pandemic and the response to it.
I think Biden believes avoiding association with Coronavirus is the best way to beat Trump. In history, Richard M. Nixon (R-California) used a similar strategy during the Vietnam War. Nixon carefully association with both the war and the anti-war movement in 1968. As a result, Nixon won the 1968 presidential election.
Given that history, I think Biden could ride Coroanvirus to the White House. However, I think Biden’s presidency will be a failure because I believe Biden has no agenda or strategy beyond “make Congress happy.”
Bernie Sanders and Andrew Yang the Real Winners from Coronavirus
In the long run I think the two big winners from Coronavirus’s fall out will be U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and Andrew Yang (D-New York).
Sanders and Yang have won because Coronavirus is forcing other politicians to adopt their policies. For instance, Biden now embraces Sanders’ proposal of a centralized federal healthcare system that provides some medical care free to Americans.
In detail, Biden website contains a Coronavirus plan that proposes free Coronavirus testing for all Americans and government run hospitals offering free care to all citizens. I think Biden proposes national health insurance under the guise of fighting Coronvirus.
Moreover, I think Trump is laying some of the groundwork for federal healthcare by deploying military resources to provide free medical care to Americans. For instance, the President ordered the Navy Hospital ship USNS Comfort to sail to New York City to serve as a safe refuge for hospital patients vulnerable to coronavirus.
Welcome to Socialist America
Hence, both Trump and Biden are taking steps to build something similar to Britain’s National Health Service in America. Interestingly, Trump has praised the NHS and other single-payer health insurance systems in the past.
Meanwhile, President Trump, Mitch McConnell, Pelosi, and U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) embrace a variation of Yang’s Freedom Dividend basic income proposal. To explain, Yang wants the government to pay all adult citizens a $1,000 a month basic income.
The stimulus plan proposed by Romney, passed by Congress, and signed by Trump will pay most Americans a $1,200 stimulus. Thus, the establishment has joined the Yang Gang. My suspicion is that the stimulus payment will become permanent and evolve into a basic income.
Will Coronavirus Lead to Socialism in America?
Beyond Medicare for All and basic income, Coronavirus is prompting a number of quasi-socialist polices in America. For example, the federal government will pay $25 billion in direct grants to airlines, Reuters reports.
Dramatically, Trump used the Defense Production Act (DPA) to order General Motors (NYSE: GM) to manufacture ventilators to treat COVID-19 victims, CNBC reports. To explain, the DPA is a Cold War era law that allows the President to force companies to manufacturers war materials during national emergencies.
Meanwhile, Biden; a self-proclaimed moderate Democrat, and “friend of business” wants to go farther. On 29 March 2020, Biden told NBC’s Meet the Press that he wants the President to use the DPA to force companies to manufacture any supplies first responders need.
Ultimately, Bernie Sanders is the real winner from Coronavirus. All of our leaders are embracing Sanders’ ideology; socialism, to combat Coronavirus. Thus, Bernie is winning the ideological battle as he loses the political war.
Welcome to Socialist America
Consequently, the ultimate loser in the Coronavirus debate will be libertarians and doctrinaire conservatives. Dramatically, President Trump wants the Republicans to expel Congressman Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky) from the Grand Old Party (GOP).
“WIN BACK HOUSE, but throw Massie out of Republican Party!” Trump tweeted on 27 March 2020. Trump wants Massie out because the representative tried to block passage of the $2.2 billion coronavirus bill, The Intelligencer reports.
Hence, Socialism Light is now the agenda of the Republican Party. Therefore, Coronavirus has ended America’s ideological wars, and Bernie Sanders has won. America is going socialist. The question is to ask is not if America will go socialist but how socialist will it go.
Originally published at https://marketmadhouse.com on March 31, 2020.