• Monday, Jun 27, 2022
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OP-ED: A democracy should not be a circus

  • Published at 08:46 pm September 7th, 2020
Donald Trump US Elections 2020
Out of control? REUTERS

The odds are not in Trump’s favour in the upcoming US elections

With the completion of the nominating conventions, the American election 2020 is now fully underway. At this time, Biden remains in the lead.

The Economist model of the election gives the election to Biden 342-196 electoral votes (270 votes required to win) and the odds are 6 in 7 for Biden to win. The forecast popular vote on election day is Biden 53.9%-Trump 46.1%.

The Financial Times model gives Biden 298 electoral votes (enough to win); Trump 119; and toss-up states 121. Of the toss-up states, Trump is ahead according to the polls, in states with 66 electoral votes, while Biden is ahead in states with 55 votes.

Real Clear Politics average of recent polls has Biden ahead in the popular vote 49.6%-43.4%. In the top battleground states, it is Biden 48% to Trump 45.3%. The gambling odds are essentially even, with Biden a tiny amount favoured over Trump.

In summary, Biden has a strong lead over Trump. What is the impact of the conventions of the past two weeks? There will be new polls this week. But so far, there is no significant change.

Major issues

Polls report that Trump is losing support among older voters who are terrified of Covid-19 and believe Trump has done a terrible job in dealing with this scourge. He is also losing support among white people without college degrees and there have also been some signs of loss of support among Christian evangelicals. Disclosures of his statements about soldiers will weaken his support among the 20 million men and women who have served or are now serving in the military.

There are three big issues in this election:

1. The management of the pandemic, where Trump receives very low grades. Among other things, this has exposed the shortcomings of the American health care system, which has failed the society.

In addition, the pandemic has exposed the tragic split between the low income “essential workers” and the higher income workers who could work from home. Just as wealthy Americans are sending poorer Americans away to fight the wars they choose to begin, so we see a deeply flawed society where the poor are exposed to the virus and then denied good medical treatment.

2. The management of the economic recession: Trump has not done well here but continues to receive slightly more support on this issue than Biden. The depth of this recession is the worst since 1932. Recovery is steady but there is a long way to go. Trump working with the Democrats made a good start at managing the economic fallout, but now has completely failed to extend the necessary actions.

The next three months will see terrible things happening to the unemployed and the increasing number of persons sick from Covid-19. Recovery is sound for the top 50% of society but not for the poorer 50%.

3. Third is again the emergence of racial inequalities in American society and the failure of the government to take effective action in dealing with these issues. The non-white part of the society (about one-third) is badly treated; recognition of this is now accepted throughout American society.

We have all seen the terrible violence the police bring against the non-white population. I as an American am ashamed at the way the American police behave. The US Embassy should stop giving advice to the Bangladesh police. Trump has shown his true colours as a racist in his approach to these problems.

Trump’s hand

The American voter is turning against Trump because of his failure to manage these three key issues. Trump is fighting to bring three other issues into play:

1. Attack Biden as incompetent, too old, and under the control of socialists. This is something that Trump likes to do but it will not work. Indeed, Biden is old but he is not incompetent and his policies are strong and well-focused on America’s real problems. In a choice between the character of Biden vs Trump, it is 100-0.

2. Trump portrays himself as the “law and order” candidate who will bring an end to the violence in US streets. This is a serious issue, although greatly exaggerated. Trump may gain some support on this issue. What is not recognized is the very difficult situation facing many American cities with large numbers of homeless people, an inadequate health care system, the prevalence of drugs and gang structures among youth, and a breakdown of communities.

With the exposure of police brutality against Black people, the protests have gotten out of hand. The police are sitting on their hands, saying that they want nothing to do with this. They are well paid, yet many do a terrible job. They show by and large no principles except to protect each other. Now they are terrified of having their pay cut or a reduction in the number of police officers.

3. Trump claims the US is at war with China, and Biden cannot handle such a conflict. This political gambit is causing Trump to raise more and more trouble with China, not because this is sound, but in hopes of gaining votes. This will not work. No one really cares about foreign policy. Americans have enough to worry about.

The frantic anti-Chinese policy is not working. There is little support around the world for the campaign against Huawei. More interesting is the mighty Trump and Pompeo’s great fear of TikTok -- a program enabling people to make little musical skits about themselves to show their friends and followers.

The next two months will see a rising level of anger and screaming and shouting from Trump. Trump already knows he is going to lose. His pollsters are giving him the bad news. His behaviour is becoming more and more irrational.

What will be interesting to watch is the three debates between the two candidates. Trump will make up facts, lie about every issue, and try to bully Biden. His behaviour on the debate stage will be without principle. He will literally be out of control. He may leave in the middle of the debate, causing the organizers to turn against him.

The debate results will lead to more and more people turning away from him. He may withdraw from the debates as he sees that his behaviour is hurting him. There are four new books that will continue to expose his bad behaviour. His niece released recordings of his older sister saying what a terrible man Trump is. There will be revelations from senior military officers that Trump denigrated the men and women serving in the military.

The rest of the Republican party will watch with horror. They have bet on Trump and now they will lose. Biden’s strong standing will carry the Senate into the hands of the Democrats. 

Trump will try to disrupt the election as he increasingly realizes that he is going to lose. None of this is good for America. A democracy needs competitive parties that argue from the facts and do not lie. A democracy should not be a circus.

Forrest Cookson is an economist who has served as the first president of AmCham and has been a consultant for the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics. The data used in this article are for August 31 or September 1.

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