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Crunch Time

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The 59th quadrennial Presidential election will take place on 3 November in the United States. Few elections have been so bitterly contested under stressful circumstances like the Covid-19 pandemic. Incumbent Donald Trump evokes strong sentiments among supporters and opponents, alike. Both sides believe that the US needs to be saved from the other. The world, too, is watching with bated breath as the US still plays a critical role in global affairs. Having seen the way Trump does things, people are also worried that, if he loses or seems likes losing, he could create problems by not conceding, or even claiming victory – like any run of the mill third world dictator. And unless there is a runaway victory either way, it might take some days to declare the winner, giving Trump the chance to even launch a legal challenge.

Even though nobody is very excited about Democratic candidate Joe Biden, he is being considered the better alternative by those who define themselves as progressive, inclusive, secular, anti-racist and anti-fascist, etc. Their narrative is that the election is about overturning a white-supremacist system that is seeking to hold on to its privileges. They are hoping that a rainbow coalition will come together to oust the old order exemplified by Trump.

On the other hand, recent events might well stampede the large number of conservatives in the US to consolidate behind the incumbent. Despite the lead for Biden in the opinion polls, it is believed that a large number of ‘silent’ voters could favour Trump. It is difficult to get an exact idea because, much like India, the media has long ceased to be objective. Not only are sections of it backing their favoured candidate openly but also twisting the news and analysis to match their narrative.

India under PM Modi is believed to have come close to the Trump establishment. So, a Biden victory could prove a setback. In the context of the Indian origin voters who could play an important role in deciding some states, the crumbs being offered by the Democrats are that policies will remain favourable. It must not be forgotten, however, that US policy under the Democrats, particularly, has been intrusive, patronising and obstructive. Trump’s inward looking policy has been purely transactional, even if eccentric, and has not had any imperialistic agenda. Despite that, in the stand-off against China, it has not hesitated to extend the necessary helping hand. These considerations are bound to weigh upon the Indian-origin voter. It would be safe to say, however, that a Biden administration would be a continuation of the neither here nor there approach to global affairs that led to the present Chinese domination in the first place. US impact on world affairs is bound to diminish further.