The sound bites coming from both political camps are sure to make the run-up to the election intense and gripping, including to the extent of more ‘personal abuses’.
Love him or hate him, Donald Trump makes the maximum buzz. And he makes it the most when he is fighting elections. We all saw that in 2016 when he became the Presidential candidate of “minority of voters”, mostly Whites. In 2020, set against the backdrop of the corona pandemic’s deadly effect on America and Americans, the threat of China, a dipping economy, soaring unemployment and the threat of fast losing the “democratic fabric of the US”—racial diversity and immigrants’ inclusiveness in America’s growth—the 3 November election will be no less than that.
The National Conventions have set the tone already and after the Democrats’ high-pitched anti-Trump rant to woo the maximum voters to their side, it is up to President Trump and the Republicans to get back the most to their side in the name of “America for Americans” and “White nationalism”, which is silently creeping into American social mentality. Will he be able to strike the right chord again as he did in 2016 with his nationalist rants?
We will have to wait and watch, but the sound bites coming from both political camps—Democrats and Republicans—are sure to make the run-up to the election intense and gripping, including to the extent of more “personal abuses”, up to the final test of the people’s vote on 3 November.
As an outsider watching the US elections and reporting on that first in 2016 and now in 2020, I am compelled to often draw parallels with India’s high-voltage, loud poll frenzy on the streets. America’s is no different. If in India, it is caste, pampering Dalits and minorities, to wooing the youth for jobs, in America, it is securing the racial ethnic diversity (choosing Kamala Harris is Democrats’ way of correcting that picture), immigrants’ protections, jobs for all, including foreigners and echoing loud the high ideals of the Constitution about democratic freedom and rights to minorities and women. It all sounds the same.
But what makes it different is to witness a new America and if we are to believe the reports, interviews and the columns in US’s reputed media, we have to wait to see which way the “subtle current of American neo-nationalism will swing” in these elections. We saw a glimpse of that in 2016. This time it is no better, particularly in the backdrop of “Black Lives Matter”. Will that be a fight for space between the natives and the immigrants again? We will see that soon.
Let’s read between the fine lines being printed in American media. As David Axelrod, a senior CNN political commentator and host of The Axe Files, wrote in his latest column titled, “Biden has to beware what Trump has in store.” Axelord was senior adviser to President Barack Obama and chief strategist for the 2008 and 2012 Obama presidential campaigns.
The CNN’s political commentator wrote that the Democrats made the right noise. Stemming gun control, immigrants’ cause, climate change and many other things, including the show of America’s diversity and inclusiveness in politics by nominating a candidate fo Vice President, who touted her lineage as the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants and spoke of the ideal of racial reconciliation and John Lewis’ vision of the “beloved community.” He said: “Taken separately, you will find a majority of Americans are in favor of many of the ideals Democrats promoted last night…But President Donald Trump won the 2016 election by energizing a minority of voters—most of whom are White—who view these changes as a threat to their livelihoods and way of life.”
Biden, who along with his running mate Harris, appeared for his first interview going on air on ABC News on Sunday, chose the exact lines that rightly connect to his political constituency, including the Left-Liberals and immigrants, as he made a direct attack on Trump and his Presidency.
Talking to ABC World News Tonight anchor David Muir, Biden took Trump straight on his opponent’s “questionable handling of coronavirus pandemic”. Apart from the American media “baying for Trump’s blood on his ‘poor corona crisis handling’,” the citizens too are divided on the real results, despite the much talked about stimulus packages and cash incentives doled out by President Trump. Biden made it straight: “Would shut it down; I would listen to the scientists.” Biden also criticised what he argued was the “fundamental flaw” of the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, that the nation cannot begin to recover economically until the virus and public health emergency is under control. “I will be prepared to do whatever it takes to save lives because we cannot get the country moving, until we control the virus,” Biden said, realising fully what will connect instantly to the millions devastated by the virus.
Secondly, he came to the defence of his running mate as he took on Trump on the latter’s recent attacks against her. President Trump has reportedly referred to Harris as “nasty”, a sort of a “mad woman”, a “disaster”, the “meanest”, “most horrible”, “most disrespectful of anybody in the US Senate”. To these charges of Trump, Biden was quick to respond: “The idea that he would say something like that. No President—no President has ever said anything like that. No President’s ever used those words.” By saying that, Biden cored his points among women and the two most vital ethnic races in the US polls—Indian American and Afro-American, the twin lineage Harris shares and brings a huge difference to VP Biden campaign.
He talked on racial conflicts as he mentioned the clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.
But as Axelrod points out, this faces the test from the other side. Hinting at a possible Trump’s tough and “inciting” response coming on Monday from the National Republican Convention, the CNN commentator warns: “What may seem like a humane, common sense agenda to most Americans, this week will be cast by Trump and the Republicans as nothing more than job-crushing environmental regulations; amnesty for ‘illegals’ and open borders; an attack on police that invites urban violence and anarchy.”
Axelrod sums up pointing to where the polls will head. “These are the jagged fault lines of American politics: a rising number of young people, racial minorities and college-educated White voters versus those who view the cultural and social changes proudly displayed at the Democratic National Convention this week as a threat.”
President Trump has already dubbed Biden’s “life-time speech at the DNC” as the “waste of four hours”, but in contrast, he reacted with a subdued and succinct tweet, terming the former Vice President’s address as “just words”. Trump tweeted: “In 47 years, Joe did none of the things of which he now speaks. He will never change, just words!” Perhaps, there is more in store in the days to come and the media will make the most of those speeches and war of words between the two camps.
But most awaited is what President Trump will be spewing against his rival Biden to connect to his “All-Whites American Vote Bank” in Monday’s convention.
America is in for a real poll-pot simmering. Time to see it before it boils down to the final results for the next White House on 3 November.