Will COVID-19 trump, Trump? | Daily News

Will COVID-19 trump, Trump?

By the time this edition hits the newsstands the American public would be all set to vote in their 46th President in an election cast as the most bitterly fought, rancorous, controversial one not least due to the poll being held amidst the worst health crisis to hit the global population, with the death toll topping well over the one million mark worldwide - the US heading the list of fatalities losing over 230,000 citizens so far.

In that context this election will go down in American history as the most unique and groundbreaking - not just due to the reasons mentioned, but also other aspects and features which hitherto would have been strange and alien to the American state which prides itself as the standard bearer of democracy to the world and upholder of democratic principles.

The taste of things to come was demonstrated in the first face-to-face debate between the rivals in the fray, which, to put it mildly, bordered on the uncivil, laced with vicious barbs, that would have shocked a nation brought up on a culture of free speech and tolerance, a hallmark of democratic practice.

Also, for the first time in an American democratic exercise, the election has degenerated into depths which can also be considered as un-American such as voter intimidation and challenges to the final outcome - all features unique to lesser nations practicing democratic governance.

Television showed Trump supporters in the Republican stronghold of Texas in a long line of motor vehicles attempting to force a Biden campaign bus off the road, while there are also moves by the Trump camp to deploy its storm troopers, read white supremacist gangs, to inundate polling stations in Democratic strongholds to intimidate voters - things that have not been hitherto heard in American elections.

The Trump camp, according to news reports, is going out of its way to block the counting of mail-in votes, which according to exit polls, are heavily in favour of the Democratic candidate. They are also apparently taking legal steps to stymie the process, banking on the American Supreme Court which is tilted in favour of the Republican candidate. In fact the counting of several millions of mail-in votes could be delayed, according to methods Trump is adopting, raising fears that the declaration of the final result could well be some time in coming, or, worse, with legal challenges being contemplated to the outcome, it could be months before the next US President is declared. This is reminiscent of the result of the State of Florida recount in 2000 where confusion reigned which even compelled Democratic candidate Al Gore to withdraw his “concession” to rival George Bush, the eventual winner of the race.

Of course, Democratic challenger Joe Biden has been maintaining his lead for months, coinciding with the first appearance of the Coronavirus pandemic which has proved to be the bugbear of Donald Trump and seen as being the single factor, by many, that would dislodge him from the Presidency. If so, Trump has only him to blame for treating the pandemic in cavalier fashion from the very outset and he continues to do so even at the tail end of the campaign adding gaffe after gaffe to an already bad situation.

The two candidates have two starkly different outlooks in dealing with the pandemic. While Trump insists that a vaccine will be available and America was about to turn the corner vis-a-vis COVID-19, Biden who has admonished his rival for treating the pandemic flippantly by dispensing with masks (Trump is being criticized for holding “Super Spreader” rallies having crowds without face masks) says he would be purely guided by science in dealing with the contagion and will make face masks compulsory wear if elected President. Trump also drew the ire of the medical fraternity by accusing doctors of inflating Coronavirus death figures to obtain additional funding.

While the poor handling of the Coronavirus pandemic may have depleted the stocks of Donald Trump, the race is far from over. Though Biden leads on the popular vote the race will be eventually won in the battle-ground States comprising the Rust Belt in the Mid-West, which both candidates were stumping with frenzy during the final stretch of the campaign. The latest polls show that States such as Michigan, Iowa, Ohio, Texas, Florida and Pennsylvania are in a dead heat for both candidates.

Close to 95 million voters have already cast their ballots during early voting - over two thirds of the total vote cast in 2016- with a sizable majority of them believed to be Democrats. Trump will now want Republican voters to come out in droves on polling day to address this shortfall and turn the scales in his favour. Whatever happens, the world is in for a long night.