OPINION: The Trump Presidency and Today’s Elections
Either way, the next four years will be challenging for an ageing president in a volatile era. Korsan Cevdet writes.
3 November 2020
In the United States of America, presidential elections are held every four years on the Tuesday following the first Monday in November. Today, November 3, 2020, is that day. Republican President Donald John Trump (age 74) is running for re-election against former two-term Democratic Vice President Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. (age 77). Similar to 2016, this race is too close to call. Although Biden is ahead in the polls, albeit marginally in some, Trump has been gaining ground during the final haul just like he did in 2016. In typical Trump style, the incumbent president has openly said that he will contest the results if Biden wins, causing yet another divide in the United States and sparking further controversy — a consistent theme throughout Trump’s term in office.
Trump’s presidency has been riddled with one scandal after another. He was elected president after winning 304 Electoral College votes versus Hillary Clinton’s 227 despite Clinton securing the majority of the popular vote. Russia and its army of hackers interfered with the 2016 election campaign in favour of Trump over Clinton. Trump asked his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden in return for military assistance, resulting in impeachment proceedings. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation resulted in several of President Trump’s close contacts being sent to prison. Citizens form seven Muslim countries were banned from entering the United States for 90 days. Hush money was paid to a porn star, and recordings were released of pre-presidential Trump making vulgar comments about women. Last but not least, Mexico was supposed to foot the bill for Trump’s border wall which, of course, never happened.
More recently, the Trump administration’s response to COVID-19 was an abysmal failure. As Trump and the neo-conservative media brushed off the potential impact of COVID-19, the US became the pandemic’s global epicenter, accounting for more than 9.6 million cases and well over 237,000 deaths. Unlike China where the first case of COVID-19 was recorded and authorities took strict measures in response to fight the pandemic, the United States will face significant and lingering material health, social, and economic consequences. The recovery will be slow, protracted, and incredibly costly. In contrast to the United States, China is recovering and making inroads on reducing the gap with its rival superpower.
Trump’s presidency has also been fraught with a deepening socio-demographic divide across a less tolerant America. White terror organizations became significantly more visible and vocal during Trump’s 2016 campaign and throughout his term in office as “Make America Great Again” struck a common cord with white supremacist groups. George Floyd’s brutal death on May 25, 2020 shocked the US and the rest of the world. Protests erupted, demanding an end to police brutality and justice for Floyd’s death. Floyd was a 46-year old black man who was killed by a white police officer — homicide caused by cardiopulmonary arrest, complicated by law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression. Simply put, a knee to the neck killed George Floyd as he couldn’t breathe. Regardless of today’s results, there is a strong likelihood that there will be riots and violence across a very polarized and fragmented United States.
Similar to how Trump and the Republicans worked tirelessly over the past four years to reverse the Obama era economic and social policies (e.g. Obama Care), a Biden victory would cause the pendulum to swing back the other way. Taxes would likely increase as they were cut during the last four years. Budget deficits and a spiraling national debt have to be tamed while the pandemic’s tab continues to grow. And while relations amongst traditional US friendly nations, be it neighboring Canada and Mexico or across the pond in Europe, will likely improve, it is unlikely that a Biden Whitehouse will see significantly improved relations with China, Russia, or other American adversaries such as North Korea. In contrast to the United States’ isolationist approach during the Trump presidency, if Biden wins, there would likely be greater international instability and volatility as a more assertive internationalist liberal presidency would be keen to check China and Russia.
If Trump is re-elected, we’ll likely have another four years of toxic, partisan politics and an America that grows further apart from itself. Either way, the next four years will be challenging for an ageing president during a volatile era.
My guess: Andrew Cuomo for President in 2024!