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EXCLUSIVE: U.S. Election By our Bureau Chief Vijaylakshmi Nadar, Edited By Adam Rizvi, TIO: The US presidential elections on November 3, holds tremendous significance for not only the country, going through it’s worst health and economic crisis but also the world, which is seeing an unprecedented spread of fascist and dictatorial regimes. The US president is the most powerful leader in the world or has been, until the recent past, when the world accepted the US as the undisputed superpower.
The world order is however shifting, with neither the president nor the country looking as infallible as it did, until recently. A dismal failure in handling a pandemic; though the US has only 4.25% of the world’s population, it now has more than a quarter of the COVID cases and fatalities, a crumbling economy and skyrocketing joblessness, inhuman immigration laws and its execution and a marked dip in foreign relations is scaring not just the liberals, including media personnel, Hollywood celebrities, past and present defense personnel, but also some conservatives who see President Donald Trump as a disaster for the country and would like to put the country first, before their party interests.
A recent damning report in the New York Times claims that Trump, a self-proclaimed billionaire, paid only $ 750 in taxes in his first year in office in 2016, after years of not paying any taxes, and a similar amount the next year. This is what an average American earning $20,000 annually would pay. The explosive report also claims that he has, however, paid $ 300,000 in taxes abroad, making a complete mockery of his claims of “America first”. He has also had business dealings worth $ 73 million, in just two years after he assumed office, in countries like the Philippines, which has dictatorial regime. Russia, China, Saudia The report has also alarmingly revealed that Trump has a personal debt of $ 421 million, with all his pretentious, luxurious hotels, and golf courses making heavy losses, even after he assumed office. All of which have to be paid back while he is still in office if re-elected. This has forced his rivals to declare that a president in severe debt is “a national threat”, who needs to be removed from office.
In contrast to his critics, however, the dictatorial premiers of many countries with vested interests, like Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the Philippines, North Korea, and even India
would want an incoherent buffoon and an incessant liar to continue in the top post.
Donald Trump’s surprise win in 2016, despite losing the ‘popular vote’ to his rival Hillary Clinton, by almost three million votes, has not only cost the country dear but is also disturbing the world order, by setting up bad precedents. Trump’s sheer incompetence in dealing with the pandemic
and the country’s sinking economy, fomenting hate to distract, is not the only shocking aspect of his presidency. His belligerent anti-immigration, anti-Muslim, and anti-European Union stances, lack of environmental concern, and a total disregard for the constitution, is being emulated around the world, with the rise of fascist and dictatorial tendencies, like never before. Four more years of an incompetent leader, with dictatorial tendencies, would just end up sounding the death knell for democracies, as we have known it for decades.
Things have taken such an ugly turn in the last couple of months, that almost half of the US is waiting to throw Trump out of the office and the White House, especially if Trump carries out his threat to deny a smooth transition of power. On one hand is the question of how did a US president, one of the most powerful men in the world, become the subject of so much hate and ridicule. On the other hand, is the raging confidence of his critics, that Trump can be voted out this November. Especially since the battle is still tight, with the former vice-president and now contender for the top post, Joe Biden, ahead by just seven points. Biden has been consistently retaining his 50 points to Trump’s 43, a gap which may close just days before elections when all plugs are pulled to ensure a victory to the red corner.
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President Trump is so convinced of a continuation of power for a second term that possibilities of him declaring himself the winner, on the basis of the polled ballots in person, counting of which would be done the same day, is quite high. The country at the moment is so divided that in complete disregard for COVID protocols, republicans have decided to vote in person, at the polling stations on election days, while a large number of Democrats have decided to take the cautious approach and have opted to vote by postal ballots. Postal ballots are now an option in 44 states. But there lies a flaw in the US election system wherein if the polled votes on election day show a winner, all the electoral votes, especially in swing states would go to the winning candidate, declaring him the winner. This despite the fact counting of postal ballots wouldn’t be concluded for days after elections, as was the case in the last elections as well.
Trump is not expected to wait for the counting to be completed this time too since he has been calling postal ballots fraudulent from day one. Just in case the issue lands up before the Supreme Court, just as it did in 2000, to settle the presidency between George Bush and Al Gore, Trump has hurriedly nominated Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative federal appeals judge, to the Supreme Court, just five weeks before the election.
This election, there will be twice the number of voting by ballots, than it happened in 2016, and the highest ever in any election. However Donald Trump’s insecurity with the postal services,
since mail-in voting typically throws up high turnouts, which may not help him win, is so acute that he started attacking it as soon as it became obvious that the pandemic would necessitate
He cried fraud despite the fact that In the last 20 years over 250 million ballots have been cast by mail, with just 0.00006 % voter fraud. Something which was backed by FBI director Christopher Wray, who testified in the Senate recently that the agency has not seen evidence of a “coordinated national voter fraud effort”, historically or currently.
The postal services, facing a multi-billion dollar funding deficit over the years, worsened during the COVID crisis, as revenues dropped. It was forced to ask for a payout of $ 75 billion, and it was the house democrats who proposed $25 billion dollars in emergency funding and cleared it. In an attempt to keep the postal services functional, at a time when they are needed most. Needless to say, Trump opposed the funding tooth and nail…
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To allay his own fear, Trump has appointed one of his biggest donors, General Lois DeJoy, who has donated $ 1.2 million to Republicans, since 2016 and $ 400,000 just this year alone as the postmaster. Despite zero experience in postal services and with no background check whatsoever. His multimillion-dollar stake in his former company XPO Logistics, a postal service contractor, causes a major conflict of interest which seems to have been lost on the Trump administration. Democrats have accused Trump of bringing DeJoy in to “kill” the postal services, not to “revive” it. In the event of the postal services being “privatized”, because of “poor performance”, DeJoy stands to gain immensely.
DeJoy promptly got on with the hatchet job, by imposing service cuts, overtime bans, hiring ban, change in personnel and changes in routes, which has already slowed down and degraded mail delivery according to American Postal Workers Union President Mark Dimondstein.“The states run elections, not the postal service. But the postal service is here to move those ballots. And when mail gets slowed down, it becomes a concern everywhere.”
The US is going to polls at a time when there is a raging health crisis, consistently topping the charts since April, with as many as 20800 deaths, and 7.21 million cases, compounded by 87 million medically uninsured or underinsured citizens. About 27 million who had healthcare lost it due to job losses. The US has never had it this bad, since the great depression in the 1930s. “60% of the population today does not even have $ 400 in their bank account”, according to senator Pramila Jayapal, one of the only14 immigrants to serve in the congress.
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Homelessness is touching new records. 40 million face eviction with notices which started going out in August itself. Many are 1000’s of dollars behind in rent with no new federal stimulus coming their way, until after the elections.
While the US president was caught off guard, with no vision whatsoever on how to overcome the COVID crisis, the Chinese government worked with military precision to not only contain the spread of the virus but increased production of masks 10 fold, producing 50% of the world’s requirements of N95 masks and respirators. It is also producing 90% of the pharmaceuticals and antibiotics necessary to treat secondary infections. “China has become the country that everyone is relying on, to fulfill even basic requirements to deal with the pandemic”, according to Jayapal.
The Trump administration however had no plans to tackle the spread of the virus, ignoring expert advice to increase contact tracing/testing, and lockdowns, with all the governors, pretty
much left to “manage” their own states. At a time, when the entire country should have come together to defeat the virus, the disparities between democrat and republican governed states
became too obvious, with the president missing no chance to take potshots at the democrat governor’s.
Trump continues to mock his opponents at rallies, cheered on by his supporters, with no focus on what was achieved in the last four years and what more will be accomplished in his second
the term, if he does retain his seat.
Biden camp on the other hand is very vocal about what is in store if they come to power. Besides health care for all and increasing hourly wages from $ 9-10, to $15, as was done in Seattle recently, Biden has also promised to make the bill of rights, introduced by his running mate Kamala Harris and Pramila Jayapal a law. According to the bill, there are an estimated 2,500,000 domestic workers across the US working in homes to provide home and personal care, child care, and house cleaning services, most facing low wages and unacceptable working conditions. The bill seeks to address this.
COVID has exposed a broken health care system in the US, despite one of the richest countries in the world, Health care for all is a big part of the Biden campaign. Trump on the other hand has been promising for years, “much better healthcare than Obamacare” that he plans to replace soon. Obamacare is at the moment helping millions get medical cover, even those with existing pre-medical conditions, which most insurance companies shy away from.
In a series of 18 interviews with journalist Bob Woodward, Trump has incomplete arrogance or ignorance stated that he always wanted to play the virus down, “still like to play it down,
because I don’t want to create a panic”. At the end of those interviews, Bob had concluded that “Trump was the wrong man for the job”.
Though Trump was warned as early as on January 28, in a top-secret intelligence briefing, that the fallout of the pandemic would be the biggest national security threat of his presidency, it was not taken seriously enough. Trump was also told that it could be as bad as the influenza pandemic of 1918. This had killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide, including 675,000 Americans. He was also warned that asymptomatic spread was occurring in China: when there were fewer than a dozen reported coronavirus cases in the US.
But Trump has spent the entire pandemic period boasting that the virus was very much under control and that cases in the US would “disappear”, instead of taking aggressive measures to contain the virus, the way other countries did.
His critics, therefore, believe that Trump not just panicked but also froze because the virus was simply too big for him to handle. A highly risky, ill-advised trip to India on February 25, put both the countries at risk. He also insisted the very next day of the trip that the number of US cases within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero”. Even in April, when the US became the country with the most confirmed cases in the world, Trump’s public statements contradicted the data available. His insistence even in recent interviews that the US will overcome the pandemic, even without the vaccine, which he was hoping would be ready before the elections, has filled viewers with disbelief.
As the pandemic drags on, it is threatening even well-established businesses that were financially healthy before the crisis. Tens of thousands of restaurants, bars, retailers, and other small businesses have already closed. A few managed to stay afloat because of the ‘paycheck protection program’. It provided hundreds of billions in loans and grants to help businesses retain employees and meet other obligations. The unemployed got a $ 600 weekly supplement, while many households got a $ 1,200 tax rebate, all of which however dried up in August. With the congress not likely to replace it before the elections, the economic package has only managed to delay the failures, rather than prevent it.
The package which was initially welcomed was later marred by reports that large corporations received 1.5 trillion in tax giveaways, strengthening accusations that Trump’s presidency has
benefitted his tax defaulting cronies the most. The hard-working, honest taxpayer, who expected a sweeping change with the Trump presidency, was instead stripped of whatever little
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