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Analysis of USA Presidential Elections

  • 08 January, 2021

  • 17 Min Read

Analysis of USA Presidential Elections

  • January 6 was supposed to be a day of reckoning for the delicate balance of power between the American legislature and the upcoming presidency.
  • The Democrats had barely managed to retain control of the U.S. House of Representatives in November 2020, even as their candidate, Joe Biden, had achieved a decisive victory over a first-term President.
  • The Senate elections ended on a near coin flip as Georgia headed to run-offs with no candidate, Republican or Democrat, managing to win 50% of the vote, and the Democrats needing two more seats for a 50-50 split in the Senate, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris providing a tie-breaking vote.

Change in a ‘red’ State

  • Georgia, traditionally, has been a Republican State, a fixture of the Deep South in the U.S. that has been a stronghold of the Grand Old Party (GOP), years after the Civil Rights Movement and Lyndon B. Johnson’s institution of the Voting Rights Act flipped the Democrats’ support bases and won the GOP white majority support.
  • But demographic changes due to urbanisation and changes in the nature of the economy brought in new objective factors favouring the socially liberal and diverse Democrats.
  • The work done by Democrat leader Stacey Abrams in increasing the turnout of the black minorities against overwhelming odds set by a Republican-controlled legislature to constrain voting, provided the heft that the Democrats long needed to change the contours of a traditionally “red” State.

  • The fact that the Democrats fielded an African-American pastor in Rev. Raphael Warnock who went on to become only the 11th African-American U.S. senator, and a Jewish documentary film-maker in Jon Ossoff, who at 33 was the youngest senator to be elected since Joe Biden, suggested that this was the outcome of substantive change.
  • The Republican candidates were rich plutocrats in incumbents Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, who positioned themselves on the far-right to secure support.
  • After all, despite Donald Trump’s decisive loss, he did manage to enhance the overall vote for the Republicans in 2020 and consolidate support among the white working and small business-owning classes.
  • Loeffler and Perdue branded their opponents as radical socialists, creating a bogey of the demands for welfarism from the progressive wing of the Democrat party even if the policy palette of Ossoff and Warnock was hued closer to the moderate and socially liberal wing.
  • Scare tactics have been successful in the U.S. against progressive candidates in the past, with a willing right-wing media ecosystem providing the misinformation machinery to do that.
  • But the Republicans hit a road block. Unlike the GOP’s agenda of retaining control of the U.S. Senate and to continue its well-honed obstructionist tactics to stymie any progressive change — something that characterised the second term of the Barack Obama presidency — Mr. Trump’s main agenda was to sow misinformation about the presidential election results and a quixotic pursuit to overturn the presidential mandate.
  • By discrediting the 2020 election and calling into question the mail-in balloting in particular, Mr. Trump depressed the GOP turnout in the Georgia run-offs relatively as a section of his most ardent supporters believed that the voting process was already flawed.
  • This helped the Democrats flip the script in Georgia in the run-offs — a motivated Democrat base adeptly organised by Abrams’ endeavours helped increase the turnout to a historic high (nearly 4.4 million voters), with African-Americans in particular voting in large numbers.

Advantage Biden

 

  • The Ossoff-Warnock wins on January 6 helped the Democrats get a controlling majority in the U.S. Senate and allowed the Biden presidency the breathing space to push for at least minimal reform, away from the Trumpian era.
  • It will now be much easier for Mr. Biden to get his government nominees confirmed and to pass meaningful COVID-19 relief and vaccination measures.
  • Substantive reform, something that progressives seek, would still be difficult as conservative sections among the Democrats could tie up with the Republicans to block policies such as filibuster reform or greater state spending in health care, but this is a definite contrast to a Republican majority which was a cul-de-sac, with reform proposals more or less becoming dead on arrival to the Senate.
  • A Democrat control over the Senate, Congress and the presidency is also a welcome change for the world.
  • The Republican party, after all, has transmogrified significantly in the last few years.
  • A classification of major political parties by the Swedish research institute, V-Dem, located the Republicans (as of 2018) as having moved further into the “Illiberal Right” (in terms of commitment to democracy). Only three right-wing parties were worse-off among electoral democracies — Recep Tayyip Erdo?an’s AKP in Turkey, the Viktor Orbán-led Fidesz in Hungary and, to no surprise, the Narendra Modi “led” Bharatiya Janata Party in India.
  • The clipping of the wings of the authoritarian and populist Right in the U.S. at the national level heralds genuine change for liberal democratic positions worldwide, at least on some issues – climate change and immigration. The protectionist driven impulses and the trade “wars” initiated by the Trump regime, will on the other hand take much more effort and coordination in international relations to wither away.

Trump and history

  • Mr. Trump will be remembered as a narcissist and a pathological liar who managed to rise up to the U.S. presidency and retain support despite his naked recourse to crony capitalism and venality.
  • He did so by playing into the fears and discontent of the white working class and small business sections with globalisation and affirmative actions.
  • But his success was also enabled by a plutocratic Republican party that gained from his rise by pushing for scores of conservative judicial appointments and achieved comprehensive tax cuts benefiting the ultra-rich and the corporate sectors in the country.
  • Having achieved these sops for the fiscal and social conservative wings of the party, the GOP tolerated Mr. Trump’s repeated excesses and lies, even to the extent of allowing him to discredit the 2020 presidential election.
  • Even though Republican office-bearers at the State and judicial levels resisted the soft coup attempt by Mr. Trump’s allies (which were based on fiction and falsehoods), the party’s senior leaders in the Senate allowed the charade to continue unimpeded till late December 2020, leading a large section of the Republican supporters into believing that the election was stolen.

Self-imposed ignominy

  • A thoroughly immoral section of the Party led by Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley among others sought to use a routine certification ceremony in the U.S. Congress on January 6 to repeat lies about the election being stolen.
  • These efforts only emboldened Mr. Trump further and the consequence was there for all to see — the insurrection led by a ragtag bunch of white supremacists and other lumpens egged on by Mr. Trump who sought to violently disrupt Congressional proceedings.
  • The Republican party has brought this ignominy upon itself, and the turn of events in the U.S. have shocked and alarmed the world.
  • It will take a while to overturn the rot in U.S. politics heralded by the Trumpian turn in 2016 but the world will breathe a sigh of relief that the stranglehold of the Republican party has loosened somewhat.

Source: TH

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