Oscar awardee filmmaker Martin Scorsese in his film, Gangs of New York (2002) in the backdrop of the American Civil War, showed a group of men shouting slogans, “Down with Lincoln. Lincoln will make all white men slaves,” referring to the great American leader, Abraham Lincoln - throwing knives to Lincoln’s poster. Noticeably, Lincoln was a Republican. This decade old film has become quite significant in today’s perspective as the Republicans have allegedly moved far beyond their tradition to safeguard Black communities in the US. Republican President Donald Trump is also under criticism for fuelling anti-black feelings among white Americans.
The 59th US Presidential Election is the current world event that is grabbing everyone’s attention. The Presidential nominees are raising major issues that are not only important for the US but for the world - like racial conflicts and immigration problems. Presently, major economies are slowing down, with falling GDP growth rates. Medical and educational securities along with job securities are the foremost concern for everyone. Quite essentially, the nominees are picking these subjects to win the presidential run.
The fight is now between President Donald Trump (Republican) and Joe Biden (Democrat) after Senator Bernie Sanders dropped his candidacy. Incumbent President Trump is all set to take a race alongside his Vice President Mike Pence. Against Trump, former Vice President and Senator Biden’s trump-card is his running mate African-American Senator Kamala Harris. Importantly, she is the third female Vice Presidential nominee on a major party ticket in the history American presidential elections.
What will drive the US elections?
The way the US government has mismanaged the pandemic, it will have an impact on the election. In the last few months, the US have one of the most significant number of job cuts globally. Additionally, the pandemic showed the bitter side of the country’s healthcare system - proving how unaffordable it is for common citizens. The President himself was also accused for not following the norms properly even after he recovered from Covid-19. During the Presidential Debate, when Biden tried to put across economic and social issues, Trump mostly relied on personal attacks. After the debate, a recent CNN poll conducted by SSSR revealed that Biden’s advantage over Trump expanded over 16 points.
Black lives matter will be another game changer - the worldwide protests following the police killing of George Floyd. The significance of the protest will be reflected in the ballots which will not be a sudden reaction but the outcome of the historic oppression against black people.
Joe Biden has accused Donald Trump as an instigator of the protests - damaging law and order. Dr. Samir Kumar Das, Professor, Department of Political Science at the University of Calcutta and former Vice-Chancellor of the University of North Bengal, told BE, “Never before in the American history has any single issue unified the Americans so strongly. Even for the campaign Black Lives Matter, it is not only the Blacks who are taking out the protests. Trump recently faced severe protests when he visited a church with his family. Additionally, a section of America’s top police officers themselves do not support Trump’s hammer and tongs strategy against the Blacks. The movement has spread beyond the US. This will be a critical factor for the Presidential election.”
Is America ready for Biden?
Even before losing in the run, independent Senator Bernie Sanders dropped out in April. But it is important that the campaign notes that both Sanders and Biden were to some extent similar though Sander’s promises were more pro-socialist. If not endorsing Biden explicitly, Sander himself supports Democrats’ socialistic projects. He promised to raise the minimum wage and extend loans to small businesses while increasing direct money payments to families, initiate a public health insurance option, create universal pre-school system, expand free college for the education sector and invest largely in green energy. Biden also promised to reverse Trump’s immigration policy that separates parents from their children at the US-Mexican border and withdraw the limits on the number of applications for asylum. He also promised to end the bans on travel from several Muslim majority countries.
On the other hand, Trump has chosen the way to please the American citizens, unlike Biden, who is looking to please the world. He is making his countrymen understand that welcoming more immigrants will not actually help them. Dr. Das added, “The immigration issues will have to be studied in a larger economic context considering the pandemic and the global economic meltdown. Whatever Biden is speaking now, later it will be tough for him to soften the immigration policy, keeping in mind the current employment scenario.”
Violation of power
President Trump while acting in his official capacity participated in a naturalisation ceremony for five new US citizens who came from India, Lebanon, Ghana, Bolivia and Sudan. The event was organised in the Cross Hall of the White House - as part of the Republican National Convention. According to critics, this event actually blurred the line between official - governmental activities and personal-political events.
Additionally, Chad Wolf, the Homeland Security Secretary allegedly violated the Hatch Act as he administered the oath of the naturalisation ceremony. The 1939 Act bars federal employees from getting involving in any political activity.
Lately, India’s anti-China and pro-America (pro-Trump) approach has caught global attention. During Trump’s historic visit - ‘Namaste, Trump’ to India in February 2020, he and Prime Minister Narendra Modi elevated the relationship to a ‘Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership’. Prime Minister Modi was also one of the first foreign leaders to visit the White House after President Trump took office - observing that Trump enabled India to become the world’s first non-treaty ally to be offered the armed ‘MQ-9 Unmanned Aerial System’ that was used in Iran to kill Suleimani. Trump and Modi have also shared the stage at ‘Howdy, Modi’ during September 2019 in Texas. Trump recently released a short video titled ‘Four more years’ - that has footages of these two events for his election campaign.
According to Dr. Das, “This is an unprecedented incident where the head of the state of one country is being promoted by the Prime Minister (PM) of India in an official visit. One should respect the democratic institution and as the Indian PM, he should have said that let democracy win rather than let Trump win. I make a distinction between the win of democracy and the win of Trump.”
On the contrary, to address a significant number of two million Hindu Americans, Raja Krishnamoorthi, the three times Democrat Congressman launched the ‘Hindu Americans for Biden’ campaign. He is directly attacking Trump’s dividing politics.
The election result is going to be quite crucial for India. If Trump wins again, it will be pleasing for the present Indian government. On the other hand, if Biden wins, things might get complicated as he has gone on record criticising India’s action in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.