Even if a vaccine somehow became readily available before the election, it’s doubtful that it would have any real impact on the election.
By David Todd McCarty | Friday, September 18, 2020
In American political jargon, an October Surprise is a news event deliberately created or timed, but sometimes happening spontaneously, to influence the outcome of the election, particularly one for the Presidency. If Trump’s October Surprise, as it appears to be, is the promise a vaccine, it’s hard to predict how this could actually affect the election, largely because it’s unclear who would actually benefit politically from it.
Republican leaders, including the President himself, have long been critical of the scientific community, claiming that the virus isn’t as big a deal as it has been made out to be. Conservative media outlets such as Fox News have consistently argued that while the virus itself may be real, the pandemic response itself is simply a Democratic ploy to undermine the President and steal the election. According to them, even the World Health Organization, as well as the rest of the world, is in on the conspiracy.
So it should come as no surprise that many of the President’s most ardent followers have parroted his claims that the whole thing is a big hoax, leading them to protest the use of masks, and defiantly gathering in groups against the advice of health care professionals. Which of course begs the question, why would anyone need a vaccine for something that doesn’t exist?
Democrats, on the other hand, are understandably concerned that any vaccine will have been rushed for political expediency and not held to proper safety protocols, and so may not be all that interested themselves. In the Venn diagram of anti-vaxxers, there are probably an equal number on both sides of the aisle, that for whatever reason, have decided that all vaccines are bad.
Even the more cautious among us don’t update our computer’s system software the minute a new version is released, because we know from experience that the beta version is going to be at the very least a little buggy, and can in the worst case scenarios, lead to total system failure. It’s also not hard to imagine that many of the Left would be suspicious of what they perceive to be a rushed vaccine.
So who would be excited about a new vaccine at this point? The President and his campaign presumably, but there is no evidence to suggest that it will help.
Donald Trump has done nothing in his nearly four years as President to dissuade us of the fact that he holds science in contempt and believes he can go through life wishing or willing problems away. He has built no trust with the American people that would lead us to believe that if he says a vaccine is safe, that it is indeed safe. In fact, the opposite is true for many Americans. If he claims the vaccine is beautiful and great and perfect, many of us will conclude he is either patently lying or grossly misinformed, because he lies so often, and appears so often misinformed about everything else.
The real tragedy could be that while we end up with a vaccine much earlier than expected, but that very few end up getting immunized because we have a leader who is entirely untrustworthy.
According to experts, the manufacturing and distribution of an effective vaccine could take up to a year to fully immunize the planet, and that’s assuming everyone willingly cooperates. Countries are already jockeying to see who can get their vaccine to market the fastest. We may end up with competing vaccines, with varying degree of efficacy, competing in a global market.
No matter what, when it comes to this election, it is likely we will remain in a stalemate with neither side changing their opinion about anything. It’s all going to come down to who votes, and even then, at this point, neither side trusts that the election will be held without political interference, either domestically or via foreign influence.
It’s a shit show to be sure, but it’s less like to be any sort of surprise and more likely a painfully-slow slog towards a final resolution.
The shit show, you can count on.