How Trump fashioned a turnaround for the ages

President Biden has a tough battle on his hands as he faces his predecessor, Donald Trump, in the upcoming US Presidential poll. This follows Trump’s spectacular back-from-the-brink win against Republican frontrunner Nikki Haley on March 5. by Gopal Misra

The two main contestants for the earth’s most powerful executive position, i.e. the presidency of the United States, the incumbent, Joe Biden, and the former president, Donald Trump, are again locked in the poll fray scheduled in November this year. It is natural that the forthcoming election is drawing worldwide attention at a time, when the planet’s only super power, the USA, is increasingly grappling challenges from its one-time crony, China besides facing the growing alienation of the oil-rich Muslim nations.

The forthcoming contest is not between a statesman or a mediocre politician, but between an intellectually accomplished Joe Biden and aggressive tycoon-cum-politician Donald Trump.

For most Indians, Joe Biden resembles Bahadur Shah, the last emperor of the Mughal dynasty, who finally witnessed the final collapse of his regime to the East India Company, a business conglomerate, having support of the British crown. The penetration of the Chinese companies representing the imperial ambitions of Beijing has already a sizable share in the American economy. Also, through its proxies, China has huge shares in the media companies, big newspapers and channels, and also it has liberally funded the movement, Black Life Matters. Interestingly, the growing influence of the dragon has already alarmed the civil society of the western world, but the poll issue is being focused on the immigration issues. The two contestants, Biden and Trump, have swept to victory to be nominated by their respective parties, the Democrats and the Republicans, without any discussion on the geo-politics, especially the Ukraine-Russia conflict, the Israel-Hamas War in West Asia and China finally invading Taiwan, thus asserting its supremacy as a World Power. In spite of their low-rating among their respective party workers, they finally became their party’s respective candidates on March 5, now called the Super Tuesday.

Another factor enabling the two leaders getting the party’s nominations despite having a low-rate of approval could be the party system, which is loaded in favour of the incumbent. Therefore, it is not surprising that Biden could not be replaced unless he himself decides to quit the contest.

Another dimension of the electioneering is that Biden will be locked in a fierce electoral battle against Trump, who might be convicted in the ongoing criminal trial before a New York court, thus ensuring his victory against the Republican nominee. Also, it is yet to be ascertained what would happen, if Trump is convicted after he takes over as the president. The Trump supporters, however, dismiss such possibilities by describing the legal issues as politically motivated. Trump’s main political plank is against the illegal presence of the migrants and inability of the Biden administration to take any effective measures in controlling illegal immigration.

As soon as it became clear to the two contestants that they would be fighting the electoral battle, they started a fierce campaign against each other. Trump, in an aggressive posture, called Biden as the “worst president” in American history for his immigration policy. Biden has reciprocated by calling Trump a threat to American democracy. In a statement, he stressed that the American electorate has to decide whether they would like Trump to drag us backward to chaos, division and darkness.

It goes to the credit of Biden that he could finally get the nomination despite a section of his party, especially in Minnesota, being opposed to his support for Israel in the ongoing war with Hamas. He also won 14 other states, thus becoming the nominee of his party for presidency. With the former US Ambassador in UN, Nikki Haley’s inability to muster up adequate votes, the decks were finally cleared from Donald Trump. It is believed that if she had withdrawn without complaining, she might have become a natural choice to become Vice-President, if Trump finally returned to the White House.

Trump’s reassertion with the Republican Party is also quite significant. Earlier, Trump was blamed at a Las Vegas meeting of his party’s key financiers for the party’s poor performance in the 2022 US midterm. A section of them had even called him a drag on the party. Trump, however, finally staged a historical comeback. His comeback has astonished many in the US as well as in other countries. “It’s totally nuts. Most defeated presidents don’t come back and run. There is no reason to think he should have won the nomination, especially this fast,” said Lindsay Chervinsky, a presidential historian at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

Trump’s Strategy

Trump’s return to the political arena is being attributed to his unshakeable strong base of loyalists and a capable fundraiser aided by a disciplined team that stayed with him despite the Biden Administration’s bid to shackle him in multiple litigations. Another factor could be the firm belief of a large number of his supporters trusting his claim of election fraud in 2020 which allegedly prevented his return to power. The cases against him not only restored his political image, but have turbo-charged the sympathy campaign by his party voters.

His top opponents within the party, the Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley, were reluctant for months to reproach him – and even stood by him in the face of criminal and civil charges. At the same time, Republican voters’ top concerns – the economy and border security – were the issues where he was much more assertive than DeSantis and Haley.

Interestingly, Manhattan’s district attorney, Alvin Bragg’s, a Democrat, indictment of Trump accusing him of falsifying records to hide hush-money payments to a porn star could not adversely affect his political fortune. It is a case based on technicalities. Trump’s survival perplexes political observers, because his resurgence on the American political horizon is contrary to every known political law of gravity. The charges have allowed Trump to claim he was a victim of a politically-driven prosecution; his supporters rallied to his side and money flooded his campaign coffers.

Trump has adopted another unusual, norm-breaking strategy by refusing to debate his Republican rivals in any of the party-sanctioned debates. It helped him in regaining his political position, while the other candidates were seen spending much of the time denouncing one another; while largely giving him a pass.

The Israel-Hamas War

It appears that the failure of the Biden administration in ending the Russian-Ukrainian conflict in Europe and the Hamas attack on Israel has also given a powerful tool to Trump; thus the global events also began to influence American politics in the election year. With Republicans increasingly skeptical of providing more aid to Ukraine and the Hamas terrorists attack on Israel has allowed him to unabashedly play up the failure of the Biden administration. Another tool to malign Biden could be the administration’s failure to effectively contain a surge of migrants crossing the US southern border with Mexico.