This column has been delayed for a day to get a better grip on the results of the US Presidential Elections 2020.
It appeared in the early stages of the counting that the Americans were going not only against the predictions of a Democratic victory, but also against what was perceived to be the interests of the United States.
Something seemed to be wrong, because another term for Donald Trump was ominous. But today, the situation has changed and Joe Biden is poised to win to bring some normalcy to the world.
To reward Trump for his policy on COVID-19, the economic meltdown, the racial conflict and external relations would have been against natural justice. No country with a history and tradition should accept so many aberrations of a single person.
As of today, the Democratic candidate Joe Biden has not won the 270 electoral votes required to win, even though he has won the largest number of popular votes than any candidate in history.
But all indications point to a Biden victory even though Donald Trump has already challenged the verdict in certain states. There will be considerable delay in counting on account of the postal ballots as every vote has to be counted before the results can be declared.
Trump had said rather early in the day even when he was leading the race that he would take the matter to the Supreme Court, though it is not technically possible to take such cases to the Supreme Court directly at this stage.
There are also reports that some armed supporters of Trump have been keeping vigil in Arizona. Disinformation about burning of Trump votes and dumping them has also been circulating in social media. In other words, there may be many hiccups before the final results are announced.
The US press has been reporting that Trump will be in a major crisis personally on account of his heavy personal debts and the likelihood of lawsuits against him unless he gets a pardon.
It is said that he will have to leave the country or go to jail.
Of course, he has massive assets in different parts of the world and he can even live on one of his private islands in the South Pacific.
The reasons for the setback to Trump in the elections are not far to seek. It was about leadership, whether the present one has delivered and whether the alternative will be better.
The ideological differences between the two parties are thin and there are many who swing between the two parties, depending on their assessment of the incumbent and the expectations about the challenger. In the present case, the elections were a referendum on the style and performance of an unusual President, who defied traditional methods of decision making and implementation.
In every election in the US, it is the domestic issues that dominate the choice. Trump’s policies were divisive, as they served to consolidate his supporters and made the minorities feel insecure.
But the general economic growth, reduction of unemployment and scaling down of immigration created a positive impact. His support base grew in certain sections even as he infuriated other sections, which explains the close race.
Within the United States itself, there are many who resonated with slogans like “Make America great again” and “America first.” Trump’s conservative political, social and cultural policies have a huge following in the US.
He made a bipartisan immigration policy an article of faith for his administration and made many sections of the American population feel secure in an exclusive America.
He strove to make the US an island of prosperity in the vast ocean of poverty, depravity and injustice around it. He sought to diminish the concept of the indivisibility and prosperity by expanding the comfort zone of his people.
The Coronavirus was the biggest factor in the elections this time. Though many people followed his advice on the nature of the disease, its treatment and the general approach to the pandemic, the deaths of 250,000 people and the spread of the disease were there for everybody to see.
Moreover, he became a super spreader of the disease because of the way he handled it in the White House itself. If there was no Coronavirus or if he had taken it more seriously, he could have been re-elected.
Trump’s biggest weakness was the charge that it was a conspiracy with Russia’s Putin that brought him to power. This pursued him till his failed impeachment and denied him any leeway to improve relations with Russia.
On China, he began with a charm initiative, but it soon turned sour and Trump initiated a trade war against China. The most dramatic initiative was with North Korea, which transformed the American position of total condemnation of the North Korean leader to a “friend” to whom Trump wrote love letters. The President of North Korea made use of the opportunity to strengthen his position, even while appearing to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.
In foreign policy, Trump’s biggest mistake was the alienation of the NATO allies and even Canada. He also encouraged Brexit and angered the European Union. He also walked out of various agreements, treaties and commitment, reversing many of the changes that Barack Obama had brought about. He also brought the US to the brink of war with Iran and Iraq. His greatest diplomatic success was in the Arab world when the UAE and Bahrain recognised Israel with the support of Saudi Arabia.
The Trump administration undermined the post-war architecture of peace, which was built brick by brick by the US and its allies. The United Nations, which is at the center of multilateralism has been weakened to the extent of being paralysed.
When China used its status as a permanent member of the Security Council to block even a meeting of the Council to consider a multilateral effort to fight the pandemic, the US threw the baby out with the bath water when it withdrew support from the World Health Organization, leaving China as the champion of the Specialized Agency.
The US, with its immense economic and scientific prowess, should have led an international effort. Multilateralism reached its lowest ebb when the UN failed to tackle the biggest challenge to international peace and security.
International treaties constitute another pillar of the international framework. Nations voluntarily sign these treaties after careful consideration and open debate and they are ratified by the respective legislatures, where necessary. Occasions do arise for member nations to leave the treaties in their supreme national interest. But Trump walked out of treaties, agreements and arrangements on the environment, nuclear non-proliferation, arms limitation and trade with the abandon of someone leaving a distasteful stage show.
The role played by the Indian Americans in the elections is not yet known. But it is believed that many of them, who had moved towards the Republicans returned to vote for Biden and Harris. Some had thought that Trump would be more friendly to India than his predecessors. But it was an opportunistic posture, liable to be abandoned in the next tweet. He had no problem threatening his good friend Modi on matters of trade, immigration, or even on the issue of supply of medication from India. For these reasons, Trump may not have received many Indian American votes.
As it happens, this may be my farewell column for www.thelede.in, for which I have been a regular Wednesday columnist. It was great working with the mother-daughter duo of Sundari and Sandhya, who are real professional journalists.
Sadly, they have decided to discontinue this excellent web portal, which has fallen victim to “Covidonomics.” But I am sure that they will continue to be active in first class journalism. My gratitude to them and my best wishes for their future endeavours.