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Opinions Sun, 8 Nov 2020

The Biden factor

During the run-up to the presidential primaries of the Democratic Party in the US, there were a lot of homegrown machinations from the other political divide to be able to set the agenda to choose a candidate not worthy of standing against President Trump.

The Democrats were on the road looking for a candidate who can best match Trump and possibly undo him in the November Elections. Those fuelling such views were of the view that Bernie Sanders will be the best Democratic nominee to lead the party and to be able to match Trump boot-for-boot. Some had the view that both candidates are of the same stock but represent two sides of the same coin.

Framers of these conspiracy theories were again of the view that these two candidates are hardcore social influencers who can motivate their voting base to come out to vote no matter what. To give you a perspective (no malice intended), both (Trump & Sanders) were/are viewed as having a similar base to the core voting base of high caste Hindu voters in India — of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Mr Biden’s road to the White House did not come on a silver platter. The race to lead the Democrats was keenly contested by prominent party members in positions of trust, media gurus and senators. Somewhere along the line of intense campaigning and lobbying for support, some major candidates withdrew or suspended their campaigns after the Iowa Caucus to the endorsement of either Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders. Some of the prominent candidates who featured to lead the Democratic Party but were unsuccessful are: Bernie Sanders ( U.S. Senator from Vermont), Michael Bloomberg (Former New York City Mayor & CEO of Bloomberg L.P.), Cory Booker (U.S. Senator from New Jersey), Kamala Harris (U.S. Senator from California), Steven Bullock (Montana Governor), Pete Buttigieg (Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor), Julian Castro (Former Mayor of San Antonio, Texas), Bill de Blasio (New York City Mayor), John Delaney (Former US Congressman from Maryland), Tulsa Gabbard (U.S. Congresswoman from Hawaii), Kirsten Gillibrand (U.S. Senator from New York) etc. When the mantle of leadership was placed in the hands of Joe Biden as a Democratic nominee and leader of the Democrats into the 2020 elections, the missiles of destruction from the right-wing were turned against him.

The Republicans were all out to paint Joe black for their political advantage. Because they (some of the fast-right-thinkers) knew that Joe Biden is a possible candidate to lead his party into the land of salvation. So, the camp of the right-wing started forming unsubstantiated allegations of misconduct and trying all hard to form an established-agenda bedevilled with conspiracy theories in the minds of the American voters.

The shots started — here comes Lucy Flores (a 2014 lieutenant governor nominee in Nevada) who accused Biden of violating her personal space by touching her shoulders and kissing the back of her head before a campaign event. Also, another international shot silently spearheaded and crafted by homegrown ideas of the leader of the right-wing to pressure President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to open an investigation on the Bidens and his business son, Hunter. These and many unsubstantiated allegations went through the political trajectory of the Bidens. During all that, he remained resolute, firm and focused.

I knew very well that the Bidens will be able to survive all the bogus allegations. Because Mr Biden is a person who has gone through a lot of pain in life. There is nothing painful to losing your first wife (Neilia Hunter Biden, 1942-1972) and daughter (Naomi) in a car crash. In recent times, somewhere 2015, Biden again lost his son, Beau, to brain cancer. What still keeps him is faith; and by extension, his son, Hunter — who also was badly injured in the crash but survived.

During the 2016 American elections which gave Mr Trump a vehicular movement into the White House, he's (Trump) victory wasn’t all that a carefully crafted and executed one. To me, I will say that it came to him as a surprise. Because, America has for a long time wanted to give an outsider, a business person a shot at the office. It was different and exciting. They (Americans) thought his supposed success in the world of business would again manifest in his real transformation of policies that would benefit the country. Surprisingly and very shocking to voters who actually voted and supported Trump into the Oval Office, the reality was far from what they thought of him. Surely, at least some people are seeing it’s not what they had hoped it would be.

No longer can Trump really claim he’s an outsider? For this reason, the anger of the American voter is clearly seen in the way they reacted to the early voting. It is a record time of massive pour of voters ever before in the American generational electoral history; one that saw over 101 million voters casting their votes within the October early voting space.

That alone, by far, should have been a wake-up call for Trump to intensify his campaign and pull last minutes political strings in a carefully executed move to confuse voters into accepting him for his final term in office. That did not happen; I don’t even know whether he realised that or his advisors thought of the change in dynamics of the turnout.

He was rather on Twitter or Facebook seriously running down the Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, for unsubstantiated allegations. That’s why my Dagomba people will say: If a donkey is about to disappoint you to the ground, you hardly see its ears. And so Mr Trump.

There is no space for contesting the fact that a greater number of Americans are disappointed in the way the Trump administration is managing the coronavirus pandemic. The way he dealt with COVID-19 is questionable to most Americans. A president who does not believe in science and data would never get things right as Chief Executive Officer of a free country like the US. The American voter knows that there will be long term economic disruption for not eliminating the virus. All the elderlies and people with underlying health conditions and people living with them cannot leave their home for the foreseeable future, so businesses and life will not recover until the virus gets eliminated. For a better elimination of the virus means to vote for a president who believes in science, who is willing to work with all sections of the American society and that calibre of personality is found in Joe Biden. No doubt that Joe Biden understands the nuances of government. He has worked to create many of the successful policies the U.S. developed in dealing with foreign nations.

He also knows what works because he and Obama have already been widely successful in creating one of the most enduring and powerful coalitions of all time. Biden can speak with depth and skill in understanding how healthcare works, how it fails, and what to do to make it better. He has submitted legislation favouring women’s equality. He did much of the heavy lifting for getting many of Obama’s policies passed into law.

Healthcare system is an area where every president must uphold the latter; thus any developed nation should have a decent healthcare system. The neglect of Obamacare by Mr Trump has posed untold hardships to millions of Americans living on ‘peanuts’. What is shocking is that Trump does not have a health care plan, despite having promised and describing it with glowing generalities. He has made a variety of claims about health care, including that he would cover everyone, that it would cost much less than current plans, and that it would be available to review very soon now.

The fact is that he has not proposed any health care plan, he only triggered to try and repeal Obamacare (the Affordable Health Care Act), and yet he is in court attempting to overturn Obamacare (including its mandate to cover pre-existing conditions.) The most notable “achievement”, in health care Trump has actually accomplished is to allow millions to lose their employment-based health care during the difficult times of Coronavirus. The reason is that after four years of boastful promises, it still hasn’t been proposed, much less passed. Neither Trump nor the GOP has a plan to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Neither Trump nor the GOP has a plan to provide health insurance for poor people or people without jobs.

Simply put, the Republicans did not roll out a plan to reduce the health care costs in America. None of the “abolish Obamacare” bills passed by the GOP controlled House of Representatives included any replacement for Obamacare. That is why wise men/women will say: Election has consequences. If the president won’t create a better condition of service for the middle class and below, if he won’t take his time to be properly briefed on the health challenges of the country upon which his policies affect, if he won’t respect the American values of creating a free society where everybody can live in harmony, peace, love and hungry-free, then... the ultimate voice of the people is to get a compassionate candidate like that of Mr Biden. Because he would listen to the cry of all, he will go down with the American people if they are in tears and he will equally rejoice with them in good times. Very sympathetic and empathetic to all.

One problematic development for Trump is his most reliable voters and senior citizens. The actions and inactions of his support base gave all indications that their support was being shifted to Biden. The crowds flocked to Biden because no one wants to be left out of the winner’s circle. The President who can’t get a 50% approval rating in more than half the states he carried last time, and who is the first incumbent president in history not to get the endorsement of a single former President? This again was a big surprise to me why Trump didn’t recognise the silent but loud shift of his own inner-core members. Remember that when your own support base is weak, it gives your opponent the best position to strike you to the bone. Could it be that Mr Trump’s advisors did not see it coming? Or Trump ignored their advice for his own way of handling matters! President Trump is championing the cause of racists, misogynists, skinheads and other misbegotten hangers-on to the fringes of civilization. Intelligent people will not vote for Trump to help him finish creating his own alternative universe for his base, one in which reputable news sources are considered fake news, facts are considered not true. He is the president in American history who is able, consistently, get his fervent supporters to believe in conspiracy theories.

Most Americans felt bad about the way Mr Trump handled the refugee brouhaha. There are many US citizens who have families and friends in Mexico. The separation of children from their parents was also an issue that cannot be left on the radar. Innocent children who really have no knowledge of their crime were made parentless and treated like prisoners out of supposed ‘unpardonable’ crimes. Under Trump’s watch as president of a Free Land, self-constructed style refugee camps were made in his administration that warehoused crowds of desperate asylum-seeking people; the forced separation of refugee children from their parent(s) and then managing to lose them, some times for months! Trump’s appropriating of Military Budget funds to pay for segments of the Trump wall has hardly caused a ripple of displeasure with a good section of the American people. These issues and many more are consequential to Trump's electoral waterloo.

One remarkable thing Biden did during his campaign was to look back from the days of Mrs. Clinton, the states she overlooked and more importantly to tap into the experience(s) of Mrs. Clinton relative to how she stood with Trump’s verbal attacks on her personality. Based on that score, Joe Biden visited every swing state, especially the ones that got overlooked by Hillary in 2016—Michigan, Wisconsin, North Carolina, etc. Joe Biden didn’t joke with Pennsylvania despite the fact that he shares his birthrights from there. He knew that Pennsylvania would be a battleground state. It is worthy of note that Joe Biden is from Pennsylvania, one of the three biggest swing states in the nation and one in which it is virtually impossible to win the presidency without winning. Another important thing Mr Biden did was to speak to the frustrations of the Rust Belt and the Midwest. How is he going to bring jobs to an area that appears neglected and how is he going to make their lives better in his Build Back Better Agenda. Those were his roadmap of Build Back Better Agenda to the good American people of the Rust Belt and Midwest.

Mr. Joe Biden, as human as he is, just like us, does not claim to be a superhero. But there are a lot of things that Trump is not. He is not a racist, corrupt businessman who has had to shut down a fake university for handing out fake certificates. Neither is Biden caught committing impeachable offences during his watch as Vice President of a free country. More so, Biden is not divisive but sympathetic and empathetic towards people. He is nothing but a former Vice President whose sterling qualities are enviable, lovable and a congenital statesman who always wants to bring people together. You would note that throughout his addresses to the American people, he has been admonishing the American people to keep the faith burning whilst doing the right thing as children of God. If you can’t admire such sterling and remarkable personality in him ... then you have got a problem. Biden is moderate enough to appeal to patriotic, fiscally-conservative Republicans and Independents who know what a danger Trump is to the country. Biden is also just Progressive enough to appeal to young voters, Berniecrats, and other Progressive Democrats. He is what the nation needs to heal from the disastrous COVID-19 pandemic that caused a precious loss of lives of the working class. He has his faults just like any other fallible beings; but not as grave as Trump.

To this end, Mr Biden has learnt a lesson that caused the Democrats unsuccessful electoral polls four years ago. The lessons he learnt from Hillary’s defeat in 2016 and that of the master strategy from President Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, as well as all the Democratic Party members have really paid off.

© Abdul-Razak Lukman abdulrazaklukman6@gmail.com
Columnist: Abdul-Razak Lukman