The Battle for Democracy: the final stretch of the US Election
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Image by Armaan Latif
The final stretch of the 2020 US Presidential Election has been intense. Over 75 million people have already voted – already over half the total 2016 turnout – despite the President decrying mail-in voting as insecure. Ultra-conservative Amy Coney Barrett has been appointed to the Supreme Court just weeks after the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Amid all this, Donald Trump has refused to confirm he will concede even in the event of a landslide result.
It’s definitely not looking good for Trump this time around. The Democratic nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden, has a near double-digit lead in the national opinion polls and in solid Republican states like Texas they’re neck and neck. Though it is true the polls favoured Clinton substantially in 2016, it was by nowhere near the margin they favour Biden now. It is a statistical improbability that Donald Trump will be re-elected.
I would suggest taking as much cathartic pleasure as you possibly can from the prospect of a forcible ejection of the most fascist-enabling, corrupt, incompetent President of the post-war era… because it’s all downhill from there.
The Supreme Court now has a 6-3 conservative majority, and it will remain that way for quite some time, given that SC positions are for life and Barrett is relatively young. Since Trump took the completely unprecedented step of appointing a justice to the Court just weeks before an election was due, his number of appointments to the highest judiciary in the country has risen to three. A horrible permanent marker of the damage Donald Trump has done in office. In the long-term, this could spell disastrous news for minority groups and women, whose hard-fought rights could be imperilled across decades of legal challenges from the right.
We won’t be that much better off under a Biden administration, either. Though a welcome break from the dystopian hellscape of the last four years and a halt to authoritarian descent, we must prepare ourselves for the impending disaster of Biden’s presidency.
If elected, he will be the oldest man ever to hold the office of President. Despite having assured the public of his physical health through submitting to a medical assessment, there is still some doubt of his mental capacity. Biden is very gaffe-prone, and it’s hard to rule out he is suffering age-related cognitive decline – in an interview last week, he called his election opponent ‘George’. He mixed up his wife and sister on stage just months ago.
Information leaked revealing Biden’s choices for cabinet positions are no more reassuring. Despite calls to unite the Democrats by offering positions to those on the left – Bernie Sanders is purportedly angling for Secretary of Labour – it looks like Biden is eyeing up high-profile Republicans for top jobs. Some of these individuals include former CEO of Quibi Meg Whitman (who sunk the near $2bn streaming company to dissolution in less than 6 months), John McCain’s widow Cindy McCain, and former Ohio Governor John Kasich, both of whom have been anti-abortion and same-sex marriage.
It’s clear that Biden has absolutely no medium-term plan for dealing with the multitude of problems the 2020s are going to throw at western civilisation. On climate change, his campaign cannot even commit to banning fracking, one of the most damaging types of fossil fuel extraction, let alone to necessary infrastructure projects like the Green New Deal.
On the inevitable economic catastrophe the West is heading into, it is more likely than not that Biden will do nothing to restructure a broken system; it is more likely he will lead a process of bailouts and private debt relief while offering nothing to workers. The likelihood of this will increase massively if Biden installs a free-market Republican or big-business CEO as Treasury Secretary like John Kasich or Meg Whitman.
On preventing another ‘Trump moment’ (a far-right surprise win) happening in 2024, Biden has absolutely nothing. If Trump is a perfect encapsulation of the vacuous decadence of neoliberalism, Biden epitomises neoliberal collapse. Old, clueless and confused, unable to respond to the pressures of the last decade; "Sleepy Joe".
But for now, let’s take some comfort – an early Christmas present– from the prospect of Donald Trump being gone at last, and with him, the abhorrent alt-right project he represents will be in retreat. For the moment, at least.