The United States is on the final leg of an unusual campaign, and its impact on the election is yet to be seen. While he recovers in the polls, Donald Trump is betting the most on his strongest and most conservative voters with a radical and discrediting message.
There are less than 50 days left before the American presidential campaign comes to an end. This may be the most atypical campaign in recent times, and no one can say for sure what will happen on the first Tuesday of November.
The latest polls, which are being downplayed because of what happened in 2016, show that Democratic candidate Joe Biden is five to nine points ahead of Republican candidate Donald Trump, who currently occupies the White House, although he prefers to present himself as its landlord. That is what he did on Aug. 28, when he held the Republican National Convention within the confines of the White House garden and accepted the nomination to serve as president four more years. By making partisan use of the presidential residence, Trump is doubling down on his bet, especially after massive demonstrations encroached on the same White House garden months earlier and forced the Secret Service to take him to the safety of a bunker.
The nomination broke with institutional traditions and with social distancing measures recommended in response to the current pandemic, which Trump has consistently downplayed in public (although, privately, he has admitted that the virus is lethal). The hypocrisy of this two-sided discourse was evident this week when Bob Woodward, the reporter who covered the Watergate scandal, disclosed remarks Trump made as part of Woodward’s book “Rage.”
In his book, the reporter who, along with Carl Bernstein, investigated the break-in that led to Richard Nixon’s resignation, reveals that Trump intended to downplay the importance of the virus from the beginning to avoid panic.
Some of the real estate tycoon’s statements date back to February, when no one had yet died from the virus in America and Trump claimed that it was merely a flu that did not require special measures.
200,000 Deaths Later
With more than 6.5 million people infected and a death count that will reach 200,000 this weekend or sooner, Biden described the fact that Trump concealed or omitted information about the pandemic as “almost criminal.” In a different place and time, this would have had a crucial impact on the election.
Watergate happened a long time ago, and in the 21st century, there are heads of state who regularly spy on their opposition. As described by the dear Manuel Vázquez Montalbán in Barcelona almost 30 years ago, the world, or those who run it, seem to abide by double standards and lies. The United States has characteristically applied a double standard to dealing with other nations as friends or enemies. The current president of the United States has transformed lies and post-truth into a cult.
In the campaign that made him president, Trump made use of fake news and low blows to attack Hillary Clinton on every front. Everyone takes it for granted that he will do the same with Biden and Kamala Harris, his running mate. In fact, Trump and his team have already started throwing darts at the senator, a daughter of immigrants who has the charisma Biden lacks. Among Trump’s advisers, we no longer see Steve Bannon, who recently was released on bail, a man who is a white supremacist and author of the dirty campaigns and fake news that favored Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, Matteo Salvini in Italy, the Le Pens in France, Vox in Spain and other personalities of the “new” world right.
Lies and Denial
Trump has never lacked foot soldiers to twist reality and create intrigue. He had John Bolton as his national security adviser. Bolton has recently disclosed that his ex-boss thought it would be “cool” to invade Venezuela. Furthermore, Trump gave the helm of American diplomacy to Mike Pompeo, who admitted that lies, hoaxes and theft were part of his job when he was head of the CIA.
Mary Trump, the president’s niece, wrote that her uncle made hoaxes a way of life. That is how she describes it in an unauthorized biography of someone who, until this point, has been bulletproof. Nine months ago, Trump avoided removal from office thanks to the Republican majority in the Senate. When it seemed as if he had a clear path to reelection, COVID-19 spread death and uncertainty, which increased due to Trump’s apathy. In May, police brutality found yet one more victim in George Floyd, an African American man, and the country was flooded with demonstrations against racial violence under the Black Lives Matter banner.
Nevertheless, Trump has taken advantage of every opportunity to reposition himself. When peaceful demonstrations became violent, Trump made Democrats responsible for the “chaos,” and Trumpists labeled protesters as “communists” or “left-wing extremists.” That could not be further from the truth. Democratic candidate Biden, who will turn 78 next Nov. 20, served as senator from Delaware from 1973 to 2009, and as Barack Obama’s vice president from 2009 to 2017. Biden is an example of the American political establishment, and he will have to convince the people who have recently won in the streets (young, Latino and African American people) to go and vote against some of the issues they favor.
Trump will focus on his hard-line and ever more radical base. He proved that days ago when he failed to condemn the actions of Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old Trump supporter. Armed with a rifle, Rittenhouse killed two protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, during a demonstration over police violence in which a Black man was shot in the back and paralyzed.
Although he presented himself as an outsider four years ago, Trump now promotes himself as the last line of defense regarding law and order. His followers spread a message of fear and confrontation, just as they did in supporting Trump’s denial of climate change or COVID-19, even though Trump promises a vaccine before the election. For those who follow Trump blindly, COVID-19 is still a conspiracy and not many people have died, since there are people who pay the hospitals to report deaths as being related to COVID-19 when in fact, they say, these people have died from other causes. Biden is trying to reach moderate and progressive groups, sticking to the ideas of his former presidential rivals, Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
The struggle will focus on 10 swing states, which, as opposed to the other 40, usually determine the winner. These swing states include Florida, with 29 electors, Ohio, with 18, and Pennsylvania, with 20, which, with the others, amount to 146 delegates out of a total of 538. Last Friday, Trump and Biden were both in Pennsylvania, although at different times. This is the state where Trump defeated Clinton by merely 70,000 votes. Both paid their respects to the crew and passengers of Flight 93, the plane that was hijacked by terrorists on 9/11 and forced to crash. Everything is tainted by proselytism as the candidates try to win votes. This is also the case with the economy Trump has made a priority over health care, a decision that is now causing collateral damage.
Meanwhile, in Norway, anti-immigrant member of parliament Christian Tybring Gjedde nominated Trump for the 2021 Nobel for Peace for his overseeing the treaty celebrated between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. If it were not that the world always denies what is most obvious, and the fact that what is most improbable is usually regarded as true, this nomination would be but a bad joke. Unless we are talking about a Nobel for rage, anger and hatred.
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