This US 2020 election is crucial but it does not have to offer radical change, as the central aim is to beat President Donald Trump and get him out of office. It is an election of necessity, that is dependent on uniting the 2016 electorate, rather than reversing their habits.
Americans and the world seem to be divided over whether the nomination of Kamala Harris, an Asian-American woman, as the Vice President is a radical step in the right direction. Her appointment is significant – if the Democrats won the election, she would be the only black woman in the U.S Senate and the first woman in history to serve as the Vice President. Her politics is a mixed bag and (alongside Biden) would not be regarded as a radical in Britain, but does it matter?
In 2016, Trump voters were older, with the majority being 65 or over. Furthermore, they tended to be white, non-college-educated men. Placing the political persuasions of the electorate aside, 2020 will be framed by one issue only – the Coronavirus pandemic. Something that has the potential to unite voters of all kinds with the shared appreciation that their President has failed them all.
This election will be fought against the battlegrounds of a country that has had 180,000 deaths from Covid-19, a failing test track and trace system, and a President who is yet to acknowledge the severity of the virus and the long-term ramifications it will bring to the poorest in society.
Already, only 37% of Americans believe that Trump has shown strong leadership and decisive action throughout the pandemic. Placing the virus aside, these are two important attributes for any presidency. It seems his colossal failures in recent months, may well be the beginning of his downfall and pave the way to a new family in the White House.
American society, like most societies, is divided politically. However, one thing that will unite the nation is the shared belief that this President has failed the American people on containing the spread of one of the worst pandemics in 100 years. Trump’s failings may well pave the way for Biden’s victory.
Therefore, it is not an election fought on lines of radicalism but merely a delineation from four years of incompetence, culminating in one of the worst handlings of the pandemic in the Western world. Biden and Harris do not have to be radical, they just need to beat Trump. The rest can come later.
However, in a year which has seen not only a global pandemic but some of the worst examples of police brutality, Harris’s appointment as the nomination for Vice President does seem like a breath of fresh air. In the initial contest for the democratic candidate, Harris ‘ran to the left‘ of Joe Biden, but her record does not suggest otherwise.
Controversially, she doesn’t openly support the de-funding of the police, one of the main objectives expressed within the Black Lives Matter movement. But like Biden, shares the belief that tackling racial inequality must be treated with broad economic and social programs to support minority groups. Additionally, she does not support Medicare for All, but instead proposes new plans based on increasing access to private insurance.
Despite this, she offers many more radical leaning ideas, such as the decriminalisation of border crossings from immigrants hoping to enter the US and the implementation of US taxpayer-funded healthcare for those crossing the border. Indeed, this is one of her more radical beliefs. But again, this is not going to be an election won from radical policy changes – but hell-bent on preventing the current president from four more years of power.
This aim has been expressed by the emotionally charged speeches from the Obama’s during the Democratic Convention, both pleading to American’s to use their vote to get Trump out of power. In their words, they hope to unite the country in their shared scrutiny of Trump’s handling of the pandemic. Michelle Obama stated Trump was the “wrong president for our country.” Similarly, in a scathing speech, Barack Obama stated that Trump has, “No interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves “and so the American people must unite on all sides to defeat him.
Both interventions point to the importance of this election being one defined by necessity rather than establishing long-term, radical change. And this is why Harris and Biden stand a pretty good chance of winning. Harris matters not because of her politics, but because without her, Biden would not be able to win. Despite his political credibility and experience, within an electorate of American’s who take personality politics far too seriously, he lacks the charisma to win the attention of the American people.
He stands for one central aim – to put national issues first, above foreign policy matters. He wants more of the same and a return to the old America, and he embodies this very notion in himself.
Therefore, Biden may embody the status quo when it comes to American, democratic politics, but it is this, combined with Harris’ more nuanced, and refreshing vision, which will set the two on course to win power in the white house.