January 16th, 2021

An October Surprise in the U.S.?

By Lethbridge Herald Opinon on August 8, 2020.

Trump’s rush to open economy also revived pandemic

An “October Surprise” in the United States is now almost inevitable, because that will be Donald Trump’s last chance to get re-elected legitimately. He might try to cling to office even if he loses the vote, but it would be a lot easier and neater if he actually won a majority in the Electoral College Nov. 3.

“October Surprise” is the American political term for a fake crisis, usually involving foreigners, that is “discovered” by a president trailing badly in the polls in the last few weeks before an election. All other issues are forgotten, Americans rally around the flag, and the incumbent wins on a surge of patriotism. Or that’s the theory, at least.

The same thing happens elsewhere, too, of course, and not necessarily in October. That’s when it needs to happen in to win a U.S. presidential election, but there’s a “July Surprise” happening in Belarus right now (because the election there is set for Aug. 9).

Last week Alexander Lukashenko, the strongman who rules Belarus, “discovered” Russian mercenaries in his country. They were unarmed and on their way to Istanbul, but Lukashenko says there is a plot: “So far there is no open warfare, no shooting, the trigger has not yet been pulled, but an attempt to organize a massacre in the centre of Minsk is already obvious.” Only I can save our country! Vote for me!

Trump will need something like that because otherwise the coronavirus is going to kill him politically. This was not true as recently as early June, because up until then the United States was not performing especially badly in dealing with the pandemic.

It LOOKED a lot worse because of Trump’s bizarre behaviour – the endless, shameless lies, the narcissism, the suggestions that people should inject bleach, etc. – but in terms of COVID-19 deaths per million people the American fatality rate was still lower than any other major Western countries except Germany and Canada.

The United States was late to go into lockdown, but so were they all, at least compared to most Asian countries. Until recently, if you were a Trump supporter, you could still believe he was doing a good job.

It was Trump’s rush to end the lockdown, not all the earlier nonsense, that did the real damage. He believed that he would lose the election if the economy didn’t revive, but by opening up too fast he managed to revive the pandemic at the same time.

The numbers tell the tale. This week America will record its 160,000th death from COVID-19. That’s almost a quarter of all the coronavirus deaths in the world. Much worse, U.S. deaths are still going up while deaths elsewhere in the developed world have fallen steeply. That’s almost entirely due to Trump.

Take Canada, for example. It’s very similar to the U.S. in economy and demography, but different in social and political terms. Canada has universal health care and a much less drastic divide between the rich and the rest, for example, which probably explains why America’s cumulative death rate per million is 484, while Canada’s is only 237.

The history is therefore an American death rate twice as high as Canada’s: not great, but not utterly awful. By now, however, Canada has managed to get its deaths down to 10 a day, whereas America is back up around a thousand a day. Even allowing for Canada’s much smaller population, that is 10 times worse. This is what coming out of lockdown too early did to the United States, and it is all down to Donald Trump.

The pandemic is raging again in the United States, and there may be a quarter-million deaths there by election day in November. U.S. “deaths per million” are going up three per day, which means that the U.S. will overtake Chile (now 509) in less than two weeks, Italy (582) in a month, Spain (609) in five weeks. It might even catch up with the U.K. (682) by election day.

Most of those newly dead Americans will be over 60, so probably Trump supporters. Their relatives and friends are bound to to notice eventually. Joe Biden’s lead over Donald Trump in the polls has already widened to 10 per cent, and there is probably no good news Trump could engineer in the remaining 90 days that would be big enough to turn that number around.

His only hope, therefore, is to manufacture some really bad news: a restaged “Gulf of Tonkin” incident with China, perhaps, or a terrorist “threat” so humongous that it gives Trump a pretext to declare martial law nationally. Or maybe he will arrange the premature certification of a magical new COVID-19 vaccine so he can roll it out just before the vote. If it kills a lot of people later on, who cares? He won.

Trump knows that if he loses the election he will spend the rest of his life in court, possibly even in jail. An October Surprise is practically guaranteed. It isn’t over yet.

Gwynne Dyer’s new book is “Growing Pains: The Future of Democracy (and Work).”

Share this story:

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Southern Albertan

Allan Lichtman, an American history professor, has accurately predicted every election since 1984, and predicted Trump’s win in 2016. He uses his “13 keys” system, and this year, he is predicting that Trump will lose.


What? Another load on spin by Gwynne. The Demokkkrats and their antifa blm crazies are physically destroying the USA right? But Gwynne ignores the evil reality and writes a fairy tale about Trump doing something he never intimated and will certainly never do. Is this just another distraction attempt? Is Gwynne part of the Demokkkrat/antifa/blm destruction of the USA? Is there nothing going on here in Canada worth talking about? Say Trudeau’s 3rd (publicized anyway) criminal ethical investigation? Wut?


Yes, Resolute, it is important that we keep an eye on all of those who are against fascism, or anyone having the temerity to want to be treated fairly by those with power. What’s next: people wanting to protect freedom of speech, or right to privacy? Those dirty dogs!


res – you hardly hit the mark. but i suppose if you keep at this long enough and all, you know, practice makes perfect.

Seth Anthony

Dyer’s statements on Covid and how he relates it to other factors is absurd and full of holes. Meh. I can’t be bothered to disseminate such biased and lie by omission information.


So your political ideal is the typical archaic party system? A political system in which the people have little say and are forced to work and pay for others? (a form of slavery and the most fundamental violation of human rights).

In a free and just society, there would be no “political” system and certainly no political parties. Society would be based in objectivity, logic, and human rights. More specifically, Direct Democracy in which there is no government, the people have all the power, and charity / social services programs are funded by donation only.


Where in the world, Seth, did you get the impression that I support the party system.

It’s not politics that forces you to work, it is the wage slavery that is fundamental to capitalism. There will never be democracy until there is democracy in the workplace.

If you want to know more about an-arche, talk to biff. He seems to have it going on.

Seth Anthony

Well Fescue, that’s why I asked you about your position on the party system. You missed the question mark in my question (the same question mark you missed in your question to me). Why are you adamantly missing question marks Fescue? Did you at any time have a very bad experience with question marks? 🙂

Seriously, given your incessant berating of the UCP while equally admiring the NDP, I assumed you were “into” the political party system. Especially given that you never once engaged myself or Biff when we often expressed our disdain for the political system. My apologies if I assumed incorrectly, but the assumption was due to very convincing circumstantial evidence. It seems as though I may have defied one of my main tenants, which is to “never assume”.

I don’t understand your point on “work”. It seems to be a reply to my “forced work” statement, but I don’t see how your point relates to mine.

Ahhh Anarchism. I can only dream of such a Utopian freedom.


Ah, life is too short for question marks, my friend.

I like to talk about issues. I think a stable and healthy environment is most important. Any government that works for that has my support. Governments that work for corporate greed raise my ire. In between is just pabalum.

You will have to expand on your ‘forced to work and pay for others’ some day. It doesn’t sound like anarchism to me. More of an ultraconservative (Hobbesian) each-against-all perspective. Anarchism is more about justice as a result and recognizes the contribution of the past to our current wealth – an inheritance we all share equally.

Seth Anthony

I’m not going into the nuances and the often subjective characteristics of all those labels.

My position is quite simply, governments would be abolished and be replaced with direct democracy. All forms of charity (social services, aid, etc) are funded by donation only. In other words, no one should be forced to work and pay for a “charity” that they don’t agree with, which is exactly what is occurring now.


You are talking about corporate charity, I assume : )

Let the following quote from Edward Bellamy reach out to your grasping hand to lead you up into the light, Seth … the liiiiiight:

“How did you come to be possessors of this knowledge and this machinery, which represent nine parts to one contributed by yourself in the value of your product? You inherited it, did you not? And were not these others, these unfortunate and crippled brothers whom you cast out, joint inheritors, co-heirs with you? Did you not rob them when you put them off with crusts, who were entitled to sit with the heirs, and did you not add insult to robbery when you called the crusts charity?”

Seth Anthony

I’m not sure if you were being sarcastic with your first line. I’ll assume it’s not, lol, and say that I mean ALL charity should be voluntary and not forced.

I’m just thinking “Huh”? about your second statement.

Your last paragraph doesn’t apply to my points.