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Supporters of President Donald Trump hold up signs as he speaks at a campaign rally late last month in Swanton, Ohio. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

The President says he was diagnosed with the coronavirus. What does this mean to Postindustrial America?

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By Carmen Gentile, founder and editor-at-large


By the time you read this, even if it’s only mere moments after arriving in your inbox, it may very well be woefully out of date. 

Overnight developments regarding President Trump saying that he and the first lady tested positive for the coronavirus has prompted an avalanche of worry and speculation as to what this means for Postindustrial America, the nation, and the world. 

Were Trump incapacitated in any way, then former Indiana governor, Vice President Mike Pence would assume the presidency.

However, both the West Wing and Pence’s inner circle, both of which have been lax in their public mask use and other measures aimed at mitigating the virus’ spread, may have commingled with Trump officials and family in recent days and weeks. 

Were the vice president also infected, and subsequently incapacitated, the constitutional line of succession dictates that Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi would be sworn in as the next leader of the free world, a development that would certainly rankle Trump supporters and mark another historic development in a year chock full of them: the first time a woman will serve as president of the United States. 

What we know so far is already almost too much to digest considering what questions are being raised as a result. 

It’s almost certain that this White House hasn’t adequately planned for the potential incapacitation of the president considering how often Trump has downplayed the virus both publicly and in private. 

That lack of preparation, coupled with a myriad of unknowns at this point, is unsettling, to say the least. 

Here are just a few examples of what we don’t know, but are reasonable questions we should all be asking: 

What will happen to the remainder of the most heated presidential campaign since the Civil War? 

How will this affect an already-weakened Postindustrial America and our approach to handling the virus? Millions of people are already wondering how they are going to pay their mortgage or rent. Will the markets be rattled (earlier indicators are that they have been already) and additional job losses result from this development?

What will Trump’s most extremist supporters do in the wake of their Dear Leader’s positive test results? 

What if there is an external threat from a rival nation or terrorist group during this period of uncertainty? This seems like the ideal moment for either to strike. 

What fresh conspiracy theories about his infection will emerge in the days and weeks that will spur his supporters to take to the streets and potentially destabilize our society in ways yet unimagined? 

And perhaps the least tasteful and most frightening unknown of all: What if it’s all bullshit? 

What if Trump — a well-documented liar — is not infected with the coronavirus and is hoping his staged infection and miraculous recovery will give him a much-needed boost in the polls?

What if this potential ruse is his “October Surprise?” 

Whatever the answers to these questions and countless other questions may be, what we do know is this: This is an incredibly serious and sobering moment in our region, nation, and world. Level-headed responses to any of these questions will be a must, though unfortunately have been in short supply over the last three-plus years. 

For now, all we can do is address what we can in our own lives and reflect upon how we may handle these and other obstacles we may face in the coming days and months. 

Those in Postindustrial America who have been mocking the use of masks and downplaying the severity of the virus, I say: This is your wake-up call. 

If President Trump, someone who is tested daily and has more protections at his disposal than perhaps any other person on the planet, can be infected, so can you. 

Wear a mask. 

Keep your distance. 

Wash your hands. 

Do what’s right for you and your loved ones. 

Carmen Gentile

Carmen Gentile is founder and editor-at-large of Postindustrial. He has worked for The New York Times and CBS News, among others. His book, “Blindsided by the Taliban,” documents his life as a war reporter and the aftermath of his brush with death after being shot with a rocket-propelled grenade while embedded with U.S. Army forces in Afghanistan. Reach him at carmen@postindustrial.com.

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