The US polls will shape the world - Hindustan Times
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The US polls will shape the world

ByHT Editorial
May 17, 2024 11:20 PM IST

Donald Trump has a slight edge but do not underestimate Joe Biden. This is an open election which could go either way

Every American election is consequential, not only for the US but also for the world. But rarely has an election been as consequential as the one that will see voters decide whether to re-elect Joe Biden or bring back Donald Trump to the White House this November. As the incumbent, Biden didn’t face any significant primary challenge from within the Democratic Party and will officially become its nominee at the party convention in Chicago in August. As a former president who threw every norm of American politics out of the window, lost the 2020 elections but attempted to block the peaceful transfer of power, and faces 91 criminal charges, Trump was expected to face significant challenges within the Republican primaries. But it is a testament to his grip over the base that Trump sailed through and will officially become the party’s nominee at its convention in Milwaukee in July. This week, both candidates agreed to debate each other in June and September.

Donald Trump marched March 6, 2024 towards a bitter rematch against President Joe Biden in November as his final Republican rival Nikki Haley thew in the towel after a thumping defeat in the "Super Tuesday" primaries. (Photo by TANNEN MAURY and Brendan Smialowski / AFP)(AFP) PREMIUM
Donald Trump marched March 6, 2024 towards a bitter rematch against President Joe Biden in November as his final Republican rival Nikki Haley thew in the towel after a thumping defeat in the "Super Tuesday" primaries. (Photo by TANNEN MAURY and Brendan Smialowski / AFP)(AFP)

This election is unique, for voters will have to choose between a president who will be 82 if he wins again and a former president who will be 78 if he wins. It is unique because both the Democratic and Republican Party bases are fractured. While Biden faces the fury of Muslim-Americans, progressives and liberal young voters for his position on the Israel war and the manner in which universities have dealt with protests, Trump has alienated moderate Republicans shocked by his alleged crimes, and worried about what four more years under him may mean for the US’s democracy and its global leadership. It is unique because this election places at the centre the issue of a woman’s right over her body after Trump’s nominees to the Supreme Court tilted the judicial balance and overturned the national protection to abortion. It is unique because the presumptive nominee of one party is in the middle of cases where he is defending himself from charges of stealing classified files, pressuring officials to alter election results, obstructing the certification of election results, and, in the ongoing New York trial, falsifying business records to pay hush money to an adult film actress. It is unique because Trump has promised the most disruptive domestic policy agenda, including mass deportation of illegal immigrants and a reversal of all of America’s climate commitments, and radical external agenda, including a clear renegotiation of American commitment to European security and an across the board 10% tariff on all imports.

The peculiarities of the American electoral system mean that the future of the world will essentially hinge on merely tens of thousands of votes in six to seven swing states. At the moment, polls suggest that Trump has a clear edge. Issues such as illegal immigration and inflation, a more intangible sense that Biden is too old for the job and is presiding over a world in disorder, and a spike in support from Hispanic and even Black voters is helping Trump. But Biden has always thrived on being the underdog. His governance record is impressive, from his management of the economy, investment in climate and infra and manufacturing, and protection of freedoms. He has far more money than Trump, women voters remain furious with Republicans, and as polling day approaches, even progressive voters who want to abstain at the moment may rethink their decision. The debates, a healthy feature of an America that is facing its own democratic backsliding, will give citizens a chance to reassess the two candidates they know only too well.

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