USA 2020: An Analysis

Updated: Feb 6

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What has US politics come to? A choice between arguably the most divisive President in the history of America, or an uninspiring, former Vice President who is potentially in a state of cognitive decline. Donald Trump, or “The Donald”, and “Sleepy” Joe Biden are set to go head to head this November in what is an election that will either prolong the Trump administration or revert the Executive to a familiarity reminiscent of the Obama years. The past fortnight has seen the national conventions of the two main parties, the Democratic Party and the Grand Old Party/Republican party, put forward their main representatives and spokespersons in fits of self-congratulation, emotional appeal and charismatic speeches, all done in an act of desperation to convince the American people that it is they who have America’s best interests at heart and that they are the ones to save America from what some believe to be its current broken state. And it is fair to say that America is in trouble. The outbreak of COVID-19 has shaken the economies and societies of countries across the globe, and the USA is no exception. As if this weren’t enough, the death of George Floyd and the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement led to extreme anger and mass protests, which continue to this day. Some of these protests have led to what cannot be called anything other than rioting, so naturally, this has been a huge source of contention in the US media, as well as the Federal and state governments respectively. Despite their political inclinations, many Americans are upset about what is going on in society: the loss of law and order in major cities, the surges in violent crime, the destruction of local businesses and historic monuments. Equally, Americans are also saddened by the continuation of racial inequality and injustice towards people of colour. Despite historic milestones, such as the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 and the passing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, many African-Americans and Americans of other ethnic backgrounds, are troubled by what they perceive to be the lack of fairness towards people of colour in America. It would seem that, given all these problems, the politicians of America would see the necessity of debating the issues that exist in US society today; Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives, thought otherwise. Pelosi took questions at a press conference and was asked about the possibility of an upcoming Presidential debate, an event that has been customary to American elections for decades. She followed up the question with the unabashed statement: “I don’t think there should be any debates.” How can it be that the person who is currently the most powerful woman in US politics (Biden’s running mate, Kamala Harris, will arguably be seen as more powerful if Biden is elected) cannot see the necessity of debate in the democratic process? It is well documented that Pelosi has a problem with Trump (remember when she tried to have him impeached and tore up his speech at the State of the Union address?), but just because the President is a difficult man to argue with does not make it wrong for his opponent to debate him. If anything, it would be a chance for Biden to prove he is the more sensible, more qualified Presidential candidate. Trump delivered a passionate speech at the RNC (Republican National Convention), where he decried the threat of what he perceived to be little more than ‘socialism’. It seems that Trump is exploiting the fear of this system of government that many Americans hold, despite the many socialist institutions that exist in American society (e.g. Social Security/Public Schooling). Denouncing Biden and his party as a ‘socialist’ party seems little more than a cheap jab against the Democrats to sway public opinion in his favour. A Biden presidency would likely mean business as usual for America, although some may argue Kamala Harris would wield what some believe to be a radically left-wing agenda as Vice President. Though, this is in itself heavily debatable. Even so, how is this potential interception any different from the right-wing radicalism of Dick Cheney when he served as Vice President under George W. Bush? The DNC (Democratic National Convention) had few redeeming features. Whilst Trump and other Republican speakers did attempt to pull on the heartstrings of the electorate, they did also discuss policy. The Democrats were, in almost all cases, attempting to straw man Trump. Trump is a divisive figure; people love him or hate him. But whilst many people find Trump’s personality unpalatable and find that, on a human level, he cuts a rather odious figure, it is also necessary to take into account that, before the outbreak of COVID-19, the US economy was doing better than it had done in years, even whilst Obama was in office. Obama came across well on the world stage; he made people around the world respect America. Nonetheless, he was faced with the tall order of rescuing the US economy in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. He did this with skill and competence. It may be that the high levels of GDP seen in the early years of Trump’s presidency were due to the efforts made years before by the Obama administration. Nonetheless, Trump will be the first one to argue that it is his policies, in particular his tax cuts, that have revived the US economy. There needs to be a policy argument. It is no good listening to Trump explain why his policies are the best policies for America, whilst the Democrats merely bemoan Trump’s character. US elections are not about who is the ‘nice’ candidate; they are about ideas and the policies that will be implemented because of these ideas. If there is no debate, then Trump will win without question. Some will argue that a Biden-Trump debate would be no better than the Clinton-Trump debates of 2016. They will argue that no matter how grounded or reasonable the Democrat candidate may seem Trump will find a way to make it all about him and ad hominem attacks against his opponent. This is a possibility, but if Biden doesn’t participate, Trump is going to be the only speaker in the room, and the US might as well not have an election. If the two main parties are not willing to even talk to each other, then there is no point in pretending America is a democracy anymore. It is this possibility that any true American citizen should find menacing. Sources:

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