There is a certain irony in seeing Trump – who personalizes everything, whether concerns or problems, while looking for scapegoats – bump against an ennemi that has no face, a virus that, though called “Chinese”, still remains inevitably anonymous.
Yet, the prognostic of Trump’s reelection campaign was good. Not only is it rare for a candidate seeking a second term to be beat, but the economy was doing well, especially in terms of employment, and the stock market’s performances were playing in his favor. The failure of the impeachment procedure started by the democrates in December 2019 had mobilized his electoral base and showed the unity of the Republican camp. Finally, the rise of Bernie Sanders among the Democrates was a boon: the parti leaning more to the left gave Trump the opportunity to organize a campaign of “capitalisme” versus “socialism”, which would have given him an open electoral field.
François Vergniolle de Chantal is a Professor in American Civilization at the University of Paris (LARCA – UMR 8225) and a member of the organizational committee for the 2021 IdA conference. Former co-Director for the journal Politique Américaine, he published L’impossible présidence impériale (CNRS Editions, 2016) and coordinated a collective book that will be published by Edinburgh University Press in 2020, Obama’s Fractured Legacy. The Politics and Policies of an Embattled Presidency.