Polls and pundits cannot be trusted when it comes to predicting the winner of a US presidential ballot. In early November 2016, pollsters and so-called expert election analysts were left with egg on their faces.
Trump pulled off a coup that had political elites shaking their heads in disbelief. But with less than 100 days to go, can he do it again? Common sense suggests he has no hope.
A growing number of Americans view his handling of Covid-19 with despair. Others are angry about this self-ascribed Law and Order President’s disinterest in revamping crony police forces or what they see as his trampling upon the Constitution by sending military style federal forces to quell prolonged street violence.
His approval rating, currently standing at around 40 per cent, is sinking. History tells us that no US president with such an abysmal rating has won a second term.
That said, Trump may have a few surprises up his sleeve. Interestingly he has so far refused to confirm that he will respect the election’s outcome. Secondly, you can bet that his team is busy attempting to dig up dirt on his rival Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic candidate, who will be 78 years old when America votes in November.
Trump has already insinuated that the former vice-president is senile, a claim that Fox News has echoed. Donald Trump Jr. has gone a stage further baselessly accusing Biden of preying on children. “I will not get down in the mud with these guys,” said Biden in response.
Biden should romp ahead to secure an easy win but his advantage can turn on a dime. For the sake of argument let us suppose that next January Biden will have his feet tucked in under the famous Resolute Desk poised to implement his manifesto. And what might that be?
Just as Trump reversed or attempted to reverse his predecessor’s execute orders and decisions, it appears Joe Biden would change course on just about every aspect of the Trump presidency with few exceptions.
For instance, he has pledged to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord as well as the Iranian deal (JCPOA) provided Iran agrees to comply with certain conditions.
He says he will terminate Trump’s travel ban and immediately end the practice of separating children from their parents at the Mexican-US border.
Annual refugee acceptances will be fixed at 125,000 but migrants would once again be free to apply for asylum.
He is determined to restore America’s global leadership role. To further that aim he will work to improve relationships with his country’s traditional allies in order to form a powerful union of democracies to defend the erosion of democratic principles and to stand against fascist or dictatorial states around the world.
On his watch there will be no more damaging trade wars and he is open to securing trade agreements that treat the American people fairly.
So far so good you might think except that there exists a danger that he will be soft on Iran and critical of the Arab World as was his former boss, Barack Obama. A statement on his campaign website may give a clue as to which way he leans: “Building on the successful model instituted during the Obama-Biden administration, with the Nuclear Security Summit, the United States will prioritise results by galvanising significant new country commitments in three areas—fighting corruption, defending against authoritarianism and advancing human rights in their own nations and abroad”.
America’s democratic principles
Reading between the lines, a President Biden would not be averse to meddling in the internal affairs of other nations in order to enforce America’s democratic principles which have been supplanted by chaos and are now in a state of collapse.
In recent speeches he has warned Saudi Arabia and Egypt there will be no more “blank cheques” on human rights issues, which is insulting.
Will a Biden presidency be an Obama Mark II in all but name? If he’s throwing out threats now what will he come up with post-inauguration! Obama messed up the Middle East.
Not only did his intervention turn Libya, a well-functioning oil-rich country into a cash-strapped terrorist playground, he cheered on the misnamed 2011 Arab Spring and supported the Muslim Brotherhood over secular parties.
The Egyptian people ruined his strategy by turning to the streets in their tens of millions demanding an end to Brotherhood rule. Many of those advising Biden today took Cairo’s unwillingness to bend to Washington’s diktats as a personal affront.
Conversely, there is hardly a chink of light between the approach of Trump and Biden who is talking tough on the need to gather a coalition to rein in China and Russia.
Israel has nothing to fear because in essence Biden is as fervent a Zionist as Trump is. Biden wears a silk glove as he says all the right things to appeal to Democrats but his words lack any steel.
Lastly, although Biden has some good proposals, instead of worrying about imposing democracy on the MENA region, he should focus on an out-of-control rampageous virus, a struggling economy enmeshed in massive debt, a burgeoning crime wave and violent protests that together signify that America is indeed embroiled in one of the worst crisis in living memory.
Linda S. Heard is an award-winning British specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She welcomes feedback and can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.