A June 7 poll shows that Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s approval rating reached 50% for the first time, while Donald Trump was seven percentage points behind. Although Democrats are happily referring to this number as a milestone, we should not forget the saying in American politics: You never know what is going to happen when it comes to Trump; nothing is impossible. U.S. politics is becoming increasingly polarized, and there is still a great chance that Trump will be reelected. It is still too early to assume that Trump will meet his Waterloo due to the double crisis that is the George Floyd incident and the coronavirus pandemic.
One of the consequences of political polarization is the continual erosion of rational thinking in political expression, and eventually, politics becomes only about picking sides.
Trump and the Republican Party are the culprits leading American society down a path of polarization. In the opinion of Le Monde commentator Guillaume Fraissard, “Trump makes matters worse whenever he gets the chance. It is as if he is trying to set fire to society so that there is nothing left of this deeply divided United States. He is forcing Americans to pick a side between supporting and opposing him. His goal is to rile up white Americans so that he can hijack the election again this November.”
Trump’s secret weapon in politics is to keep a firm footing among his white supporters. The following figures show the tendency for white voters to dominate the Republican Party: 88% of Republican voters are white; 86% of Republican members of the Congress are white men, and 85% of them represent districts where the percentages of white people are above the national average; and during November elections, two-thirds of American voters are white. That is why Trump is always in favor of white supremacy. The Floyd incident did not change a thing about the Republican Party, nor will it affect Trump's political strategy.
Trump is not only “hijacking” the Republican Party and its voters, but also tens of millions of unemployed, the more than 100,000 Americans who died from the coronavirus, and American democracy and morality.
Confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States have passed 2 million. However, Trump insists on reopening the country, even restarting rallies in advance. After all, dead people can’t vote. The coronavirus pandemic has exposed an American society where money is more important than human lives.
In this polarized society, it is no wonder that Trump always gets his way playing the economy and China cards.
It is foreseeable that, in the next five months, Trump and his political machine will be doing their best to spread all sorts of extreme and inflammatory information in order to win reelection. Taking a step back, even if Biden wins the election, things are not going to be that different. The two parties are essentially the same with respect to ever-worsening political polarization.
Consider additional figures: Five states where the pandemic is the most severe are all blue states – dark blue even. New York, New Jersey, California, Illinois and Massachusetts are the Democratic Party’s loyal supporters, and nearly half of the total confirmed cases and deaths in the country belong to these five states. The Democrats’ response to the coronavirus is mediocre, just as its performance has been in domestic affairs. To some extent, if Biden wins, it will not be because of his divergence from Trump, but for his success in imitating his opponent.
If we look into the future, we may even see more people like Trump emerge who will advance the polarization of American politics and society. Tom Cotton, Marco Rubio, Josh Hawley … These rising stars of the Republican Party have consistently spoken out publicly against multilateralism and China. Since the beginning of this pandemic, they have made so many extreme populist remarks that even Trump cannot compete. These people are building their political profile for the 2024 election.
The two-party system is no longer the answer to the problem, but has become the problem itself. In the opinion of the Democratic Party, Trump is a “bug,” a tragic mistake. However, the real tragedies and mistakes lie within the country’s system itself.
The cause of the gradual degeneration of the U.S. from a superpower to a failure in the global power structure is not only its waning strength, but also the loss of the general appeal of its people and the demise of morality with respect to matters of domestic and foreign affairs. This is a dying superpower. The high COVID-19 mortality rate and case incidence rate in this country pose a threat to the security of global health. With no bottom line to its ignoring of rules and policies, America and its actions are highly destructive to the international economic and political order.
We need to get ready for an America like this.