Some Thought on Trump and Biden

It appears I made the rare mistake of not being optimistic enough about Trump. When Trump revealed his Covid diagnosis, I predicted that he would recover without complications, but given his risk factors, also predicted he would probably not be well enough to participate in the second debate, scheduled for October 15th, but I underestimated the remarkable speed of his recovery. Trump only spent a single night at Walter Reed, probably setting a world record for the shortest hospitalization ever for a Covid patient. Within a week, he was back to tweeting at a furious pace, as if nothing even happened.

Trump has defied all predictions of his undoing. Whether it was the FBI investigation on flimsy charges, his impeachment, ‘tell all’ books by haters and defectors (all of which landed with a resounding thud like a stack of wet phonebooks being dropped), his income taxes, or even being diagnosed with Covid, Trump keeps coming out on top. Nothing that the left has thrown at him has stuck. According to 538, Trump’s approval rating is still at around 43%, at around the upper-end of the same 5-point range since 2017, making Trump’s favorability ratings the most stable of any president since polling began 70 years ago, followed by Obama, whose ratings were also remarkably stable through the entirety of his 8 years in office.

Such stability is perhaps further evidence of the transition to an increasingly deterministic and divided society, in which there is less change and long-standing trends persist, whether it’s ‘big tech’ getting bigger, the intensification of the culture wars online, or the general dissatisfaction with life by many people, especially young people, made worse by Covid, a difficult job market, and endless student loan debt. The decline of families and cultural and community institutions can explain why young people are turning to ‘grievance politics’ for moral guidance, social belonging, and fulfillment. Governments and non-profits are bigger than ever, but their roles seem increasingly detached and distant from the people they are supposed to serve, then ever before.

Masks, social distancing, and stimulus are the new normal. Instead of going to work, the expectation for millions of Americans is a quasi-permanent form of basic income. 210,000 (and counting) Covid deaths are permanently etched into the collective American consciousness, which like 911, is invoked for political reasons and justification for the gradual erasure of individual rights under the pretense of empathy and safety. The notion of protecting ‘human rights’ is a backdoor for the justification of the destruction of such rights. One of the greatest ironies is how the Iraq War was justified as a humanitarian mission to protect Iraqis from human right abuses, which almost 2 decades and 2 trillion dollars later ended up costing almost a million Iraqi lives, and the deaths and injuries of thousands of American servicemen.

If Trump wins, the stock market will surge thanks to stimulus and forever-low interest rates. Amazon will probably be worth $10 trillion, making it by far the most valuable company in the world. As I correctly predicted last week, Trump has repeatedly pledged massive stimulus even if it means making major concessions to the left. Biden winning would probably be worse for the stock market, and his presidency would probably most resemble that of Carter, with both leaders sharing similar undertones of pessimism and moralizing in their messages and proposals, whereas Trump’s is guided not so by duty and responsibility, but more of a Darwinian ‘let the chips fall where they may’ hands-off approach, except for the financial markets, in which there has been considerable intervention by the fed, creating an interesting juxtaposition/mishmash of libertarianism (Trump’s opposition to masks and other restrictions due to Covid, and his indifference to culture war issues) and ‘big government’ (such as intervention in the financial markets, increased defense spending, Trump’s exhortations for ‘law nd order’).

America and China, together, have risen in preeminence under Trump, such as the strength of the US dollar, military and economic dominance, the resiliency of the US economy and stock market despite Covid relative to rest of the world, but also the rise of Chinese big-tech such as Alibaba and TikTok. Like under Carter, who let the Shah fall signifying the end of the US intervention in Iran, Biden winning would probably see a diminishment of America on the ‘world stage’. By contrast, under Regan, and to a lesser extent under Clinton, America expanded its global economic and cultural reach and might. Biden seems culturally and temperamentally similar to that of the EU and its leaders, who are socially liberal but also prudent and ‘old fashioned.’ Biden eschews Clinton’s ‘cool’ individualism in favor of a sort of moralistic collectivism., which makes him somewhat Western European in this regard, who are also more collectivist than individualistic. This makes Biden possibly the most ‘European’ of any presidential candidate, and I see kindred spirits between Western European leaders and Biden, that we didn’t see with past US presidents.