Waiting for a US President | Daily News

Waiting for a US President

At the time of writing, the US Presidential election was still poised on a razor’s edge even three days after the conclusion of arguably the most bitterly contested poll in American history that has left behind a highly polarized American nation.

Hundreds of thousands of mail-in votes were still being counted, the main bone of contention of the Donald Trump camp which has already filed laws suits seeking the annulment of all these votes that has their origins in the urban and suburban areas heavily skewed in favour of the democratic candidate Joe Biden.

All this will mean that the next American President will take some time to be unveiled, with commentators speaking in terms of weeks before the eventual winner will be declared keeping the American public and the world in suspense. The closeness of the race, no doubt, has added to the tensions.

Both candidates are running neck and neck with only razor-thin margins separating each other in the crucial Battleground States. Whoever wins will find it extremely difficult to unite a deeply divided nation and govern with a degree of freedom and independence, exacerbated by racial tensions and a deadly pandemic that has already snuffed out the lives of a quarter of a million Americans.

The instability would also reflect on world affairs in which America has been a dominant player, including the recent geo-political tensions in the South Asian region in which the US has all along been a primary interlocutor. Even then, whoever becomes President, little is going to change in respect of American foreign and defence policy that are mainly determined outside the orbit of the Executive.

America certainly did not exactly cover itself in glory by demonstrating to the world its much vaunted democratic credentials. The world watched in wonderment as the American democratic exercise degenerated into a veritable slug fest between the main contenders, with the incumbent himself descending to the lowest denominator. That the final outcome would end in such a confused and chaotic state was foreseen by the tone and tenor the entire campaign assumed from the beginning itself with the first Presidential debate which brought out the worst in the President, leading to the cancellation of the second encounter.

The stage was also set long before the contest began with President Trump refusing to accept mail-in voting necessitated by the Coronavirus pandemic. His calculation proved prophetic with the mail-in voting possibly poised to herald his own undoing. Trump’s apparent refusal to accept any of the results that came after election night through legitimately counted votes has led to the present impasse, leaving the outcome hanging in the air, throwing America into crisis and the world into a state of uncertainty that has already sent global financial markets into a tailspin.      

Biden, no doubt, is the favorite to win the contest with only a handful of Electoral College votes left to reach the magical 270 mark. But with Trump close on his heels and the slew of lawsuits pending it is too early to call as most commenters opine, though they generally speak in terms of a Biden victory.

However, the much anticipated backlash against Donald Trump over his abject failure to contain the Coronavirus failed to materialize and if he happens to win, the barrage of criticism levelled against him by all the Anti-Trump TV channels would have been so much brouhaha.  

Despite being singled out as the villain of the piece and his downfall predicated on his cavalier attitude displayed towards the pandemic, Donald Trump emerged relatively unscathed, given his sweeping victories even in some of the Democratic bastions. This shows that the vast bulk of the American public had different priorities affecting their lives other than a deadly pandemic - the economy and jobs for instance - which had been the strong suit of the Trump administration.   

Mercifully the much feared violence by the pro-Trump supporters has so far failed to materialize and hopefully will remain that way right throughout the hiatus until a winner is declared. Moreover, Trump’s casting doubts on the voting process will no doubt raise questions about “democracy in practice” in the citadel of the world democracy.

As we stated in these spaces the other day, it is the United States and its allies in the West that always lecture and hector small nations to abide by democratic practices, the virtues of democracy and the need to uphold fundamental tenets such as the sanctity of the franchise and democratic freedoms. They never fail to dispatch so called Election Monitors to these small developing countries to ensure that democratic norms are being upheld during elections. The US now needs to turn the searchlight inwards and see where it has gone wrong. Joe Biden headlined his campaign as a “Battle for the Soul of the Nation” and whoever comes to power in the US has to win that battle first before preaching to others.