Many call the US presidential polls historical, but for most of the Americans, it was tragic, because it has exposed the vulnerable state of affairs of the only super power of the earth. The Russians were accused of meddling in to the 2016 presidential poll, and China, which has tremendously gained from the US economic policies during the past two decades appear to be confident of asserting on the world economy on much larger scale in the forthcoming decade beginning 2021. The pandemic leaked from a virus from its own facility has made China much more assertive in 2020 despite the rhetoric of the outgoing US president, Donald Trump. China ended the two systems in one country ended in Hong Kong ignoring its own assurances and commitments given to the UN. The Trump’s administration’s rhetoric could not deter China from its aggressive posture and design.
It is difficult to predict that how soon the new Biden administration would be able to restore the social-economic health of the USA. The much needed restoration of the fragile social fiber is much more difficult task than to revitalize economy. The people across the continents look forward to the new administration that it would succeed in invoking the “secular and all-inclusive character of the American state”. There were three distinctive trends emerged during the 2020 US presidential election; firstly, America is not as invincible as most of us are made to believe, secondly, in spite of its prosperity, its society is as fragile as could be of any Asian or African country trying to keep its people from further fragmentation- the common people could be swayed on the issues of ethnicity or racial discriminations and thirdly, the US state despite its massive resources was unable to cope up with a biological challenge caused by Corona Virus.
It is really heartening that despite aggressive postures of the outgoing president, though reluctant to accept his defeat, the major political outfits, the Democrats as well as the Republicans are keen to repair the damage caused by his rhetoric and handling of the racial violence. In this context, Joe Biden’s appeal for unity amidst the counting of ballots is significant, and even within Trump’s party, most of the Republican leaders refused to endorse Trump’s allegation that the ballots received from mail were being manipulated against him. Most significant statement in this context was from Senator Mitt Romney, who had sought the Republican Party’s nomination for presidency that by alleging rigging during the counting of ballots Trump has damaged the cause of freedom in US as well as around the world. He further observed, “It weakens the institutions that lie at the foundations of the republic and recklessly inflames destructive and dangerous passions.”
Ballot under the Shadow of the Guns
During the year-long pandemic of the COVID-19, in China people were advised to obtain smart phones to track or to be tracked regarding the spread of the Corona Virus; but in USA, there was a rush to get personal weapons. There was so much shortage of guns that the guns had to be imported from various neighboring countries. There were apprehensions that even during the counting of ballots the racial violence may erupt in various parts of the country. The dragon has reasons to smile. Its media had supported the movement “black life matters across US and Europe”, and did not hesitate to project news about the racial confrontation in its international media channels.
During the counting of ballots, Joe Biden, the Democratic Party presidential nominee, inching towards the magic number of 270 to assert his victory, appeared to be more confident. On the other hand, his rival Donald Trump, seeking a second term as the Republican candidate for the highest office of the land, appeared to be a caged wild animal. An aspirant for the presidential office needs a majority in the 435-strong Electoral College. It comprises the representatives directly chosen by the voters on the basis of its population. Each state is earmarked a definite number of members in the Electoral College on the basis of its respective population. It finally decides the fate of a presidential candidate. The voting pattern may not be as homogenous as India has, but it has been successfully functioning for the past two centuries. During the 2020 presidential election, due to the pandemic many opted to exercise their franchise through postal ballot, though Trump had exhorted his supporters to brave the virus threat and vote personally on the voting day. It, maybe, was the reasons that initially, it appeared he is leading in the counting, but with the counting of the postal ballots his lead ended. It prompted him to allege that the “election is being stolen by Democrats”.
Biden and American Dream
Both the president–elect, Joe Biden and his deputy, Kamla Harris, the vice-president elect, who represents the fusion of Indian-American traditions, have to face a Herculean task of restoring the dream of America. It has been the destination of multi-ethnic society providing equal opportunity to its citizens irrespective of race and religion. Kamla, a committed human rights attorney, may play a pivotal role in the new administration. In India, many misunderstood her statements regarding the Citizenship Amendment Act and the removal of the Article 370 in the context of the special status of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.
She later clarified, but many Trump supporters in the Indian media did not explain that her observation was only in regard to the human rights. The basic tenet of the American state is human rights. It has evolved by ending slavery and keeping vigil on the state’s incursion in to the private life of its citizens, now expressed as human rights.
It took almost a century for the Americans to be recognized in the higher echelons of the British and French society. They were mostly considered country cousins, who had migrated across the turbulent Atlantic. The two conflicts among the European powers of the previous century, the World War-I and World War-II, had enabled them to be recognized as an asset to the British Empire. With Germany and Japan trounced in the WW-II, USA became symbol of the strength of the west, especially against Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and China. It retained and further augmented its world war position following the collapse of the USSR during eighties. However, during the 2020 pandemic of COVID-19 the vulnerability of this much-venerated super power was exposed. Its citizens were succumbing to the pandemic like any other underdeveloped country of Asia and Africa.
The US reaction to the crisis was fragmented. The two main political parties, the Republicans and the Democrats could not forge a strong alliance to deal with the crisis. The states were much more concerned to assert their respective power enshrined in the US constitution instead of dealing with the crisis. With such threats looming large on the country, the new administration may evolve a consensus to evolve a strong countrywide administrative mechanism to deal such health emergencies.
Another task before the new administration is how to restore the world’s confidence in this most powerful nation, which resembled a helpless country of Asia or Africa, where people were dying like flies due to lack of medical facilities. The US is beleaguered by a man-made virus, if not a “biological weapon”, that too unleashed from its closest trade partner, China. It further suffered, when the racial violence erupted amidst the pandemic. The Chinese media was highlighting the violence with its sole aim of diverting the American attention from the COVID-19. Few may disagree that this tactic has succeeded. The forthcoming Joe Binden’s tenure too could be equally challenging. The Democrats had accused the “dirty role “of the Russian proxies to enable Donald Trump win the 2016 presidential election, which successfully had maligned the Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
The initial months of 2021 are going to be crucial to the world politics, especially for India, though our foreign secretary. Harsh Vardhan Shingla has stated that “the strategic alliance with USA would continue irrespective who occupies the White House”. He further added, “India has deep-rooted ties with US, which would not be adversely affected by the election outcome”. However, at personal level, we may not notice the same warmth between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, though he is one of the world leaders to greet Biden and Kamla. The Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, will be missing Donald Trump, because both of them had forged personal ties during the past four years. Similarly, the Israeli Prime Minister, Banjamin Natanyahu, too may be missing a president who helped Israel to befriend a large number of Arab countries. It would not be easy for Biden to script a new West Asia policy, though he may appear to be softening towards the Muslim countries. The statement of the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, is quite significant that “It is not important who wins , but what actions the next president takes towards sanctions on Iran”.
The high-voltage ballot counting drama, which began on November three, was watched across the globe. In India, it enabled many to learn the political geography of the USA and trickling in the details of the counting kept interest in the election even during late hours. For the first time, many journalists and others learned the details about the election process in the USA, and how demographic changes were influencing the election outcome in various states, especially in the battle ground states Pennsylvania, where its 20 voters assured victory to Biden to achieve the magic number of 270.