It seems pretty clear that President Trump is in serious danger of losing Election 2020 in part because of his handling of the CCP Virus. Much less clear, especially as a second virus wave washes over not only the United States much of the rest of the world, is whether, as frequently charged , Mr. Trump’s record has been such an outlier. And if this allegation is still clear to you, consider the following data showing the rising numbers of infections in the world’s major high-income economies.
The period covered is, with the exception of France, October 2 (around the time when increases began significantly increasing) to yesterday (November 9). The numbers come from the well regarded Worldometers.info website:
United States: 140.20 percent
France: (Oct. 3): 18.75 percent
Spain: 74.62 percent
United Kingdom: 81.64 percent
Italy: 911.33 percent
Germany: 481.19 percent
Netherlands: 22.35 percent
Canada: 117.61 percent
Sweden: 380.20 percent
Japan: 53.07 percent
It’s important to note that these percentages could well change dramatically on very short notice – because some have already changed dramatically in the last few days. For example, through November 7, France’s increase was 411.74 percent. Through October 30, the Netherlands’ was 190.69 percent.
But it’s even more important to note that, especially taking these recent and potential fluctuations into account, America’s results are in the middle of the pack – and even closer to the lower end.
Although any evaluation of these statistics also needs to recognize that major, virus-relevant differences separate these countries (e.g., population density, climate, various demographics), they’re also separated, as widely noted, by substantially different approaches to CCP Virus mitigation. (Regarding population density in particular, that’s why I’m not mentioning very small, crowded European countries like Belgium and Switzerland and Luxembourg. In fact, I almost left out the Netherlands for this very reason.)
And in this vein, it’s more than a little interesting with worst recent records than the United States are Germany and Italy – where lockdowns of their economies and societies have been much more prompt and complete than in the United States.
This leaves the continuing major knock on the Trump record the exceptionally big absolute numbers of virus infections in the United States (including on a per capita basis) compared with those of peer economies and societies. It’s a big knock. But unless you think that large countries can or should be shut down until whatever public health goal their governments happen to set at a given time (bending the curve? slowing the spread? “crushing the virus”?), it shouldn’t be difficult to recognize that the appearance of a second wave immediately following the first reopenings in heavily locked down countries shows that putting the clamps on at best kept the virus temporarily dormant.
One possible conclusion to which these common problems being faced by such a diverse group of countries is one that the American character seems especially resistant to — that not all problems are readily solvable, or solvable at all, or even easily mitigated (at least until science figures out how to produce safe and effective vaccines and cures much faster). And if many of President Trump’s critics can be faulted for such assumption, he’s guilty of similar pollyannism due to his numerous claims that the virus is “under control” – even though nothing about its spread through Europe, in any case, indicated that enduring progress like this was possible at these stages.
That’s not to say that Americans shouldn’t prize their can-do spirit, or that governments are helpless in the face of such disasters – especially since, as far as is known, this disaster wasn’t government- or man-made. And it certainly doesn’t mean that better performance (in addition to better messaging) shouldn’t be expected and demanded. But it does point to the need to scale back expectations and demands, specifically to the realm of the doable, of tradeoffs and genuinely tragic choices, and of the priority-setting that naturally follows.
There’s no guarantee that national leaders will be rewarded for this kind of sober realism. But if this latest U.S. presidential election is any indication, there’s no guarantee that peddling overly rosy scenarios pays off with voters, either.