ELECTION day is nigh and Americans who haven’t voted by post must decide between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. The polls say Biden is favourite but that’s what they said about Hillary in 2016. No one trusts the polls. If I were forced to be brave and predict a winner I’d say it would be either Trump or Joe.
Democrats are blowing fanfares already but nobody knows who’ll win, whatever they claim in public. Democrats and the media promise that Biden will end the ‘craziness’ of the Trump years. It’s undeniable that Trump has been an unusual president but crazy he’s never been.
Whatever craziness has existed these last four years belongs properly to angry, dispossessed Democrats and their partisan media whose often outrageous behaviour in opposition is itself a solid argument for denying them the White House again.
Democrats, like Lilliputians tying down Gulliver, have fought Trump with a campaign of disinformation and tried to trap him inside a permanent cacophony of manufactured scandal and hysteria even before Covid. From the criminal Russiagate hoax to the fake rape claims against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and impeachment, it’s hard to identify what the lowest point has been.
It can’t be stressed enough how hard the media have worked to turn the world’s image of Trump against him while abandoning the normal ethics of their job. With up to 90 per cent of liberal MSM coverage of him classed as hostile, the media have even been credited with running Biden’s campaign for him.
On the other hand, fewer and fewer people read the press or watch television. Their audiences already agree with them rather than being potential converts, which dilutes their power to change outcomes. It’s a factor that needs to be taken into account, along with another which is extremely serious for the integrity of the presidency.
Although the media have tried to suppress the story, most Americans must know by now that Biden and his family are embroiled in a potentially criminal pay-to-play scandal involving Ukraine and China dating to his time as vice president. Joe may be innocent but it’s equally possible he’s not. And if he’s not? How can he be president?
The reality for ordinary Americans is that Trump has governed as a conventional Republican favouring pragmatism and low taxes. Until Covid caused greater social and economic disruption than would be inflicted even by wartime, his record was probably successful enough at the start of this year to ensure his re-election.
Then the virus struck and everything changed very quickly. An invisible enemy against which there was no vaccine overwhelmed governments and people everywhere. In the US, Democrats instantly fastened the blame for a burgeoning death toll on what they said was White House incompetence, and were unexpectedly back in the game.
At the last presidential debate, Biden said 210,000 Americans had died of Covid, 200,000 more would do so by the end of the year and that it was Trump’s fault. There is, however, an obvious hole in the Democrats’ case. They have never had a counter-strategy other than masks and lockdowns that destroy working-class jobs. If he wins, next year’s Covid deaths will be Joe’s to explain – unless the Trump vaccine saves him.
Thus has the scene been set for the 2020 election on November 3 which, because of the complications of heavy postal voting, may not yield an immediate result. It could be weeks before we know who won.
It’s a Covid election but not only. Other things matter such as the affordability of the Democrats’ ambitious social programmes and, in the battleground states that will be decisive, Biden’s promise to kill fossil fuels within 15 years. Oil and gas production and fracking are the lifeblood of blue-collar Midwestern swing states which went for Trump in 2016. Biden wants their votes back but will destroy their industries without replacing them.
For some voters, Biden is the easy choice. Americans who hate Trump really, really hate him, including Republicans who are never-Trumpers who may abstain or vote Democrat. Women, who are a majority of the electorate, tell pollsters they dislike him, even in the suburbs which traditionally have been Republican fiefs.
Trump’s base is a little over 40 per cent, which means he needs to convince a lot of independents that he’s worth a second term.
He is banking on voters believing him when he says there’ll be a Covid vaccine by the end of the year and that he can get Americans back to work at their workplaces instead of via Zoom. He proved his economic credentials after 2016 by revving up a record number of jobs for all races after years of stagnation under Obama.
During a Town Hall meeting with NBC’s Savannah Guthrie, he said that the third-quarter economic results, which will be known before election day, would be good. This would at least confirm that he’s already getting the economy back on track.
All presidential elections are billed as an irreversible turning point. This time that’s truer than most, but not because of the sweeping nature of what the Democrats promise. Some of their programme regarding health care, student debt, immigration and the environment will happen but it will be limited by unaffordability and resistance from the electorate. Americans don’t want mass immigration or a Green New Deal that revolutionises their lives. Change works best by increment in mature democracies.
What matters as much as the presidential election is the battle for control of the Senate which really does have historic potential. If Democrats win the Senate they could decide that their immediate priority is to scrap the filibuster which requires 60-vote majorities for a straight majority of 50.
This would leave Republicans powerless to stop Democrat legislation speeding unimpeded through Congress. It would also give the Democrats the opportunity to pack the Supreme Court and neuter the 6-3 conservative majority Republicans gained with the confirmation of new Justice Amy Coney Barrett.
A packed court would secure abortion rights from the threat of abolition and clear the way for passage of the ever-expanding demand for racial and sexual rights which will be major political issues dividing the Right and Left in the United States for the foreseeable future. Even reparations for Blacks could become a possibility.
The Founders created a non-parliamentary system to ensure that the US was governed with some measure of consensus. The proposed changes to the Senate would destroy that.
There’s the question of whether Biden, who is 78 and may be a crook, or his lightweight running mate Kamala Harris are capable of exercising the powers of the presidency, whereas Trump is a known quantity with vice president Mike Pence at his elbow. That too will be in voters’ minds on the day.