Lessons from the American Presidential Election 2020

Light of Truth

Dr Nishant A.Irudayadason
Professor of Philosophy and Ethics, Jnana-Deepa Vidyapeeth, Pune.

The long duration of counting ballots has surprised many people. This has fuelled suspicion for the most die-hard Trump supporters. The president had anticipated it in his speeches or tweets for several months, sowing doubt. Donald Trump has taken legal action. But it’s not just that. According to the latest tally on Tuesday, Trump had over 71 million votes. Joe Biden is over 75 million. But 71 million for Trump is about 8 million more than in 2016. This shows that not only did he keep his electoral base but that he also succeeded in winning over voters. This, according to Bertrand Badie, a French expert in international relations, is an indication that Trumpism has taken root. It is revealing of a rather deep crisis of an American society which fears globalization and dispossession.
“It’s the economy, stupid!” This sentence from Bill Clinton’s adviser, James Carville, during Clinton’s presidential campaign in 1992, could well apply to this election. Donald Trump has campaigned on his performance since 2016 in economic matters. Americans have a pretty good opinion of Trump economically. Before the pandemic, the unemployment rate was 3.7% in 2019, one point less than in 2016. Donald Trump has appropriated popular themes, such as the economy, with the objective of to secure victory this year again, as he had faced Hillary Clinton in 2016.
However, what did not go well for Trump is his display of character in public. As much in business, in politics as in life, it is sometimes better to listen than to speak. He should have known that speech is silver, but silence is golden. Insults of all kinds, war chirping, rambling lyrical flights, for four years, the President has missed no opportunity to prove his incompetence and ignorance on a multitude of subjects, especially in handling the pandemic situation. He should have, instead, listened to the army of experts, to world leaders and strategic advisers, who surround the presidency.
Alone we go fast, together we go far. This is the motto that every leader should adopt. This is the motto with which he should have adapted his leadership style. Instead, he decided to eliminate anyone around him who dared to think differently from his own. He sacked many officials during his tenure, the recent one being the Minister of Defence. But still nearly 50% of the American voters believe in him and follow him. For more than forty years, Donald Trump has been building his own legend by dint of lies, manipulation, threats, prosecutions and intimidation of all kinds, succeeding in reaching the top of the pyramid.
Ironically, it is the fact of having achieved this feat that will be fatal to him. He himself says it during his countless interventions. Before entering the political arena, his life, admittedly in the spotlight, was a long calm river compared to the one he has been “forced’ to live for four years. Overnight, Donald Trump went from fiction to reality, from reality TV sets to the biggest stage in the world. No more secrets of infidelity, petty shenanigans of all kinds or the false image of a successful businessman. By becoming president, Donald Trump opened a Pandora’s box that he would have liked to keep closed. Donald Trump wanted to be the king; he became so but will soon regret it.
The American presidential election 2020 has given us a portrait of a divided country. The problem is not merely division of voters based only on ideologies but also on the choice of the presidential candidates they were given. To the American voters, Biden does not seem to have any real political capability; he seems to be too fragile and worn out to fix the problems America faces. Trump, on the other hand seems to be divisive and unpredictable, taking advantage of far-right activists when he can, and abusing Twitter messages. Ultimately the result of the ballot box, with a weak victory, a priori for Biden, and a Republican Senate, is perhaps the best thing that could have happened to reconcile the American people. The 46th US president should seek compromise to lead the federal government diligently.

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