Articles,  Madhav Das Nalapat

Team Biden may yet re-elect Donald Trump

Madhav Das Nalapat
Editorial Director, ITV

 

 

 

Donald Trump is seeking to portray Joe Biden as a secret follower of the principles of the US Congressional members known as the Squad. After the 2018 US Congressional races, four young women banded together as the “Squad”. All four meet Donald J. Trump’s definition of those below the poverty line, which in his view is any citizen with assets below a million dollars. Of the four, the disappointment for liberals has been Ilhan Omar, a backer of Turkey under Recep Tayyip Erdogan and with a neo-Wahhabi philosophy far from the world view of Ayanna Pressley and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, both of whom are impressive in the dedication each has to the interests of the modest income groups from whence they emerged into fame. The ideological outlier, Ms Omar, needs to consider whether the Wahhabi world view that she embraces is consistent with the values of democracy. In contrast to her, the only other Muslim Representative in the US Congress, Rashida Tlaib, is relatively moderate. The exception is her distaste for Israel.

Representative Tlaib may not think highly of the current Prime Minister of Israel, but it must be said that few whose families have their roots in the Palestinian Territory feel differently from her about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has made no secret of his view that the lawful boundaries of Israel stretch from Judea to Samaria. In other words, that they include almost all the West Bank of the Palestinian Territory. Perhaps a digression into history may be instructive for those involved in policymaking such as a member of the House of Representatives. Every peace offer made by Israel has been rejected by the Palestinians on the grounds that the territory offered was too small. Each such refusal was usually followed by the takeover of more territory by the Israeli government. Whether it be in 1948 or 1967, efforts by the Palestinians and their supporters in the region to use military force to secure a withdrawal by the Jewish state resulted in more land that had been under Palestinian control getting incorporated into Israel. Looking at the disproportion in capabilities, this columnist has for long suggested that the Israeli side should decide what territory it regarded as essential for its security, absorb that, and leave the Palestinian Authority free to administer the remainder. Unhappily for the Palestinians and their backers, the illusion that Israel would surrender a significant amount of what it considers to be Holy Land to come to a peace agreement has led the Palestinian Authority to reject every offer made to it of a compromise peace settlement. Rather than cancel a visit to the homeland of her extended family, it would have been helpful for Ms Tlaib to see for herself the situation in the West Bank.

Given the rising disproportion between the upper reaches of US society and the rest, Ayanna Pressley, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib together with Bernie Sanders have tens of millions of voters who agree with them that policies that perpetuate such disparities would inevitably lead to social unrest. Ms Omar seems to have a different agenda from the other three, that of ensuring that neo-Wahhabism re-establish itself as the dominant force in the Muslim world. This in an era when even Saudi Arabia has begun distancing itself from that creed and seeking a return to the compassionate and merciful vision enunciated in the Quran in its 114 suras.

Apart from their relative youth, gender and dedication to their beliefs, a common factor between the four members of the Squad is that none have European ethnicity. This is probably why a sizeable section of Donald J. Trump’s base agrees with the demonisation of the four in Republican news outlets. Theirs seems a nostalgia for the years when those not of European ethnicity knew their place in the social, political and economic hierarchy. The securing of the Presidency by Barack Hussein Obama terrified such elements, and his second term led directly to the massive support of closet segregationists for Trump. The sprouting since the 2016 campaign of energetic manifestations of the same tendencies as those which motivated segregation in the past is no accident. President Trump has, perhaps not by design, given back such elements the sense of entitlement taken away from them by the Obama Presidency, and which is now once again threatened because Kamala Harris may step into the Presidency in case Joe Biden’s health collapses. Harris in the White House would be a cross too heavy to bear for millions of those wedded to segregationist nostalgia, and they are willing to do whatever it takes to ensure that Donald Trump wins a second term in office, even if that means fomenting violence in cities located in swing states. Such scare tactics may work, given that the Biden campaign seems to be heading the way of the Clinton poll machine took in 2016. Hillary’s campaign focused less on the Presidential campaign than on what they proposed to do once she was sworn in on 20 January 2021. While Trump has character flaws, evangelical Christians seem to prefer the former to Biden, the quintessential family man. It remains to be seen whether the white underclass in towns and cities will continue to back President Trump, who has showered bounties on billionaires rather than on those lower down the food chain. Trump has thus far refused to actually block WeChat, thereby forcing the CCP to choose between allowing western communication software apps to operate in China or witness a breakdown in most of communication between individuals in the US and China. He has allowed Steven Mnuchin and Wilbur Ross to adopt a soft line on China, even while Mike Pompeo and Mark Esper push for tough measures. It must be said to Trump’s credit that he has been much tougher on China than any US President since Harry Truman.

The Trump campaign seeks to portray Joe Biden as a traitor to his ethnicity, his religion and his beliefs. It ought not to be an easy sell, except for the fact that Joe Biden seems to have followed the example set by Jeb Bush in his 2015-quest for the Republican nomination. This was through Bush surrounding himself with smug, “know it all” aides who assumed that the Republican nomination was theirs for the asking. If the overconfident Biden team have their own way in how the Democratic Party campaign is conducted, Donald J. Trump could overcome the effects of Covid-19 on the economy and win a second term in the White House. In contrast to Biden’s retaining in his team the big names of a failed and unpopular past, many of the members of the Trump Cabinet are unscarred by past policy mistakes. These include Secretary of State Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Esper, who together with Vice-President Mike Pence may prove persuasive enough to quell doubts among voters about the wisdom of giving a second term to a President who seems to revel most in uttering the words, “You’re fired”.

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