Once that’s done you’ll be able to experience the Michael McDowell website perfectly.
US Politics

Can Joe Biden devise a strategy to pull ahead of Trump?

This is election year in the United States. As things stand, the Democrats look set to nominate Joe Biden and the Republicans seem on course to select Donald Trump to contest the election in November. And in such a contest the odds currently favour Trump.

Can Biden devise a strategy to pull ahead of Trump? If he thinks that abortion rights are going to swing many undecided voters in his favour he may be right, but that by itself is not going to win him enough votes to secure the presidency.

Democrats also hold onto the hope that criminal charges will halt the Trump campaign. That hope looks increasingly forlorn. The decision by authorities in Colorado and Maine of the Colorado state supreme court to disqualify him from appearing on the ballot paper was not followed in Michigan and it seems unlikely that the Colorado vote will survive an appeal to the US supreme court.

Trump will use every possible legal strategy to delay and derail legal proceedings against him in civil and criminal courts. The Colorado decision - and a decision by the senior electoral official in Maine to remove Trump from the ballot paper - simply played into his hands. He tells his supporters that he is the victim of a political witch hunt to prevent him from becoming president with a majority vote. And he blends that charge with his ongoing, dangerous, and delusional claims that he actually won the 2020 election that was stolen from him. None of these events has dented his surge to the front as an electable Republican candidate.

Biden, on the other hand, looks politically frail. He is belatedly facing up to the fact that illegal migration across the Mexican border is a potent political issue for many US voters. Sending Blinken to negotiate a package to halt migration with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador seems perhaps too little, too late.

On Capitol Hill, Republicans are handcuffing US financial and military aid for Ukraine to strong anti-migration measures at the southern border. Obrador is facing his own elections and is demanding that enhanced Mexican cooperation on the migration issue is matched by US aid for those Latin American states from which the migrants are coming.

Realpolitik demands that Biden is seen to deal effectively both with migration and Ukraine. Republicans in Congress hold the whip hand. Biden’s problem is to avoid being seen to lose political control.

It may shock us in Europe to realise that the Gaza war is not Biden’s biggest political problem; if the Gaza slaughter develops into wider Middle East conflict, it may loom larger in the minds of middle America. But backing Israel, however reluctantly, seems a US political imperative for the moment.

The Republican voter base doesn’t care about the slaughter in Gaza; those Americans who do care that the Israelis have already killed over 20,000 civilians including 8,000 children are Democrat voters. If the death toll in Gaza keeps rising over the coming months, Biden will find himself increasingly isolated from international public support; in those circumstances, his warnings about the effect of a Trump presidency on American influence and allies will sound increasingly flat.

The US economy is doing well. But even if that continues, it will not of itself re-elect Biden. Nobody fears that Trump will crash the economy.

Biden is also faced with a running-mate issue. At his age, it really does matter who is the vice-president. And Biden’s problem is Kamala Harris. Has she the standing or profile with American voters to be a credible president? Has her vice-presidency turned out to be a disappointment and, if so, why? Does she widen voter appeal for Biden? Is it now too late for the Democrats to field a stronger, younger and more charismatic ticket for the November polls?

Readers of this column know that I greatly fear and detest Trump’s politics. A second Trump presidency would probably result in a substantive victory for Putin in Ukraine and an increased Russian threat in the Baltic, the Balkans, and eastern Europe. EU-US relations would deteriorate.

China, Russia, and North Korea have forged closer links, which bode ill for western democracy. Trump squared up and backed down with Kim Jong Un on the DPRK’s atomic missile programme, ludicrously claiming he had created a great relationship with the dictator. He capitulated to the Taliban in his Doha deal. The democratic world has everything to fear from a combination of Trump’s erratic foreign policy and growing cooperation among its erstwhile cold war opponents.

The internal US consequences of a Trump presidency seem frightening. He has recently claimed that migrants are “poisoning the blood of America”. He has threatened prosecution and jail for his political opponents. If the Republicans win the House, the Senate, and the White House in November, chances of a nasty, intolerant, internally divided, and introverted America over the next four years are almost certain. Happy New Year.


(Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay)

Other posts in this category