You will never convince a gambler there is no such thing as luck. But what are ordinarily referred to as lucky (or unlucky) streaks are really nothing more than how statistical phenomena behave in ordinary circumstances. When a gambler gets a series of good card hands or lucky throws of the dice, that’s nothing more than ordinary statistics at work. Counterintuitive though it may seem, only if such statistical clusterings never happened and the distribution of favorable and unfavorable outcomes were perfectly uniform would you be justified in wondering if the fix were in.
When these statistical clusterings play out over the course of a lifetime, it’s tempting to think of individual people as lucky or unlucky, blessed or cursed. But “some people get all the luck” (or not) is just another way of saying ordinary statistical circumstances will sometimes cluster favorably or unfavorably around certain people for a finite period of time (however long) and in ways we ought to reasonably expect given a large population.
We humans are pattern seekers and we sometimes see meaning where none exists. So as a concession to that idea I will say, with tongue firmly in cheek, that Donald Trump’s extraordinary luck has finally run out. Trump is a child rapist and thief who should have been imprisoned for life without possibility of parole two decades ago, and instead he’s president of the United States. Had he been black he certainly would be in prison. But whatever you chose to call it, those lucky days are over for Donald Trump.
I know what some of you are thinking. It will never happen. Trump will find a way out. But I heard that about Bill Cosby, I heard that about Harvey Weinstein, and last time I checked both rapist jerks were in prison, and Weinstein is COVID-19 positive to boot. So the mighty do fall, and they fall very hard, and Donald Trump’s fall is going to be spectacular, I think.
And we owe it all to the coronavirus. As I have said before, had this been an ordinary election year I think Trump had a shot at reelection. Now I think his conman career is over and his pirate ship administration has struck a reef. It will mean no more Nuremberg-variety rallies, no more bragging about how great the economy is, no more tooting the horn of unemployment (even though “employment” too-often means below-subsistence wages for millions), no more wall. Trump will try to race-bait his way out of the coronavirus debacle, of course, and he will continue to blame the Chinese, of course, but it won’t be enough. He might keep much of his low-information cretinous base in line, but he has lost the middle of the road voter, the man or woman who doesn’t think much about politics but still votes every four years.
They are going to look around for someone to blame for the frightening state of the world, for why the United States was so far behind other governments in preparedness, and the only person they will see is Donald Trump. Attempts to inculpate Obama and Hillary and the Democrats will look pathetic to this man or woman. They will see it for what it is, a coward trying to pass the buck after nearly four inept years in office.
Trump’s propensity to look small-minded and mean-spirited won’t help him either. I think we of the left have grown so cynical we at times lose sight of how bad that looks to other people who aren’t as rabidly anti-Trump as we are. But it certainly isn’t a good look. Trump’s obvious (to anyone with an IQ above room temperature) mocking of Mitt Romney’s self-quarantine, his failure to enact the Defense Production Act, his early dismissals of the coronavirus pandemic, his irresponsible, shoot-from-the-hip pronouncements of soon-to-be-released vaccines and promotions of pseudoscientific “cures” won’t play well in political commercials either. And all the Democratic opposition has to do is go to the videotape where Trump condemns himself with his own words.
Nothing quite throws into stark relief the plasticity of the Republican agenda of greed unlimited and corporate bailouts as does a universal crisis that hits every American and every citizen of the world at home and where they live. The failure of Republican business as usual has finally come home to roost. Hubris has met its Nemesis — and its name is COVID-19. Donald Trump’s extraordinary luck has finally run out.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.