Trump vs Biden: First it was wild–then came COVID-19

first_imgFour months ago the narratives of the 2020 election seemed clear.Touting record low unemployment and solid GDP growth, Trump promised four more years of a presidency molded on his persona of the hard-nosed businessman.Biden, milking nostalgia for the now seemingly calm years of his vice presidency under Barack Obama, vowed to end the scandals and division of Trump’s reality show-style administration and restore “the soul of America.”Biden, 77, led in polls, but many believed that Trump, 73, would seize the upper hand on November 3. President Donald Trump’s reelection battle against Joe Biden was always going to be wild — and then came the coronavirus, killing nearly 90,000 Americans, scuttling the economy and throwing the race into surreal confusion.Less than six months before election day, neither candidate can campaign normally, voters wonder whether they’ll be safe, and Trump suddenly faces what amounts to a referendum on his handling of a once-in-a-century crisis.”We really don’t know how this is going to play out,” politics professor Christopher Arterton at George Washington University told AFP. The last incumbent to lose reelection was George Bush in 1992 and, historically, presidents presiding over strong economies are almost invulnerable.Exuding macho self-confidence, Trump toured the country for political rallies with his adoring right-wing base, and delivered a seductively simple message: aggressive nationalism abroad, jobs at home.How, Trump openly wondered at his rallies, could the man he brutally insults as “Sleepy Joe” even compete?Then the coronavirus tore up the script.Trump wanted America praising his triumphs. Instead, his fate rests on how people will judge his handling of a disaster.Referendum election”This election will be primarily a referendum on President Trump,” said Allan Lichtman, a presidential historian at American University renowned for his accurate predictions of previous contests.The COVID-19 crisis poses a test of leadership at least as high-stakes as the 9/11 attacks in 2001 or the massive 2008 recession.And Trump thinks he’s more than passed.”I’d rate it at 10,” he responded when asked once to grade his performance.But many don’t agree.They don’t like his divisive political style, his only rare demonstrations of empathy, and the haphazard marshalling of federal resources on testing and treatment.According to the latest CBS poll, 57 percent of Americans think Trump has done a “bad job.” In March the number was 47 percent.This might seem a golden opportunity for Biden. Instead, like millions of Americans, he has been locked down at home.Although Trump has had to give up his beloved rallies, he still gets out occasionally on Air Force One and frequently dominates evening news broadcasts from the White House.Biden, by contrast, has gone no further than his Delaware home’s garden, while relying on amateurish video platforms to communicate.Yet ironically, Trump’s massive advantage may be working partly in Biden’s favor. Yes, Trump is in the spotlight, but what he does there enrages half the country.”It has exposed all his flaws that were apparent throughout his presidency, but are much more immediate now in the lives of Americans,” Biden spokesman Michael Gwin said.In other words, Biden doesn’t have to lift a finger.”There is an old saying,” Lichtman noted: “‘Never interrupt an opponent when he is making a mistake.'”Wild cardsMost days Biden rips the president on Twitter, as he did Thursday, saying Trump “failed the American people on every single front.”But Gwin said the Democrat is wary of trying to out-attack the attacker-in-chief. “We need to present a better alternative.” While the latest polls show Biden still ahead nationally, US presidential elections are decided by electoral college votes, meaning the result will likely come down to a handful of swing states like Florida and Wisconsin.Polling there is tighter and Trump could retain the presidency even while winning fewer votes nationally than Biden — as happened in 2016 against Hillary Clinton.And just one of a half dozen wild cards could make the difference.- Will economic recovery start in the third quarter, as Trump predicts, allowing him to sell a powerful message of renewal?- Will there be a foreign policy drama, perhaps a showdown over North Korea’s nuclear arsenal or conflict with Iran?- What role will Russia play after sowing discord and misinformation in 2016?- Will tension with China, which Trump is working overtime to make the coronavirus bogeyman, trigger a devastating new trade war?But the biggest wild card, almost certainly, will be Trump himself. How far will he go in a last-ditch fight?Already last year the Republican was impeached, though not convicted, in Congress for abusing his office to try and whip up a scandal around Biden in Ukraine.Now he’s pushing a new conspiracy theory, claiming the existence of an “Obamagate” plot involving Biden to bring down his presidency.In this atmosphere, six months will be an eternity. Ultimately, Arterton said everything still hangs on one simple question: do more people adore or loathe this ultra-polarizing president?”Is Donald Trump going to be so odious to a number of moderates…, independent voters and Democrats to drive turnout on the Democratic side as much as he’s capable of driving turnout on the Republican side?”Topics :last_img read more

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Opposition’s criticisms on role of Govt GECOM Commissioners are valid

first_imgDear Editor,The comments by the PNC-led coalition Government-nominated GECOM Commissioner, Vincent Alexander, as captured in the Guyana Chronicle report on Wednesday, September 11, 2019 – captioned “No space for polls this year” – make it clear that the parliamentary Opposition’s criticisms on the role of the Government Commissioners at GECOM are valid.Vincent Alexander’s maintained demeanour during this uncertain period and comments demonstrate clearly that the primary focus of the Government Commissioners at GECOM is to delay General and Regional Elections that should have been held since March 21, 2019 – even with their principal talks about elections being held before the end of the year.Editor, I was part of the parliamentary Opposition delegation that met with the full Commission on Tuesday, September 10, 2019, and the GECOM Chairperson, retired Justice Claudette Singh, was pellucid when she stated that the views articulated by the Opposition Leader would be taken into consideration, with a view to having elections before the end of 2019.Despite this, Vincent Alexander – happy with elections being delayed until 2020, a full year after it was constitutionally due – insists, according to the Guyana Chronicle report, that the GECOM Secretariat’s election timeline has no space for an election this year.The election activities timelines that give March 2020 as the election date, which was proposed by the GECOM Secretariat – where elements have clearly been influenced by the likes of Vincent Alexander and others – can only be described as notorious, given the lengthy delays. For example, the allocation of 55 days between Nomination Day and Elections Day, when the standard period is 35 days.The most recent version of the timelines of elections activities contemplates the start of Claims and Objections all the way until November 19, 2019.  It also proposes other activities – the necessity of which has been discredited.Also, only last week, I pointed out that any merger of data from the House-to-House Registration with the NRRDB is worrisome for several reasons. Firstly, the merger of the data with the existing National Register of Registrants will contaminate the database and it will/may take months to address any such contamination.  Secondly, the data gathered is suspect since the gathering of said information was not scrutinised. Thirdly, the form used in the House-to-House Registration was not the statutory form required for such a purpose.Editor, I wish to remind, that since March 2019, a work-plan was proposed by the Opposition-nominated GECOM Commissioners, which would have seen election activities being run concurrently and concluded within 60 days.  I wish to also remind that the 2015 General and Regional Elections was completed within 71 days of Parliament being dissolved on February 28, 2019.The logical and simplest way, using a time-tested method, is a move to a Claims and Objections exercise, which would kick off once the Preliminary List of Electors (PLE) is extracted from the NRRDB and published.There is now one question that must be answered. Are the PNC-led coalition Government-nominated GECOM Commissioners, apart from protecting a political interest, some pecuniary interest? Is this the reason that they are actively pushing for constitutionally mandated elections to be delayed further?I dare say, it is time for the international community to focus their attention more closely on elements within the GECOM Secretariat, given what is at stake – Guyana’s standing as a constitutional democracy.Sincerely,Bishop JuanEdghill,PPP/Cparliamentarianlast_img read more

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