The 2020 American presidential election has not yet yielded a winner. It is a watershed moment in America’s political life. It has seen the largest voter turnout in a century. Both candidates are over the age of 70. The campaign has been marked by bitterness and acrimony.
“Whoever wins this race, one thing is clear. Going forward, America will not be defined by the Democrats or by the Republicans. It will be defined by the Trump Americans,” writes Vijay Gokhale, a former foreign secretary, in an opinion column in The Indian Express.
If President Donald Trump wins re-election, it will put to rest the presumption that his election in 2016 was an aberration or a momentary lapse on part of the American populace. If Trump loses, can the new President-elect afford to forget or ignore that nearly half of all Americans who cast their ballot this time round endorsed Trump with their eyes wide open? Either way, America will wake up to a new age tomorrow or the day after.
If Joe Biden wins, it is possible that America will re-engage with dignity and restore mutual respect in its relations with allies and partners, beginning with the trans-Atlantic alliance. The new administration may begin to look like it was earlier, with properly staffed departments of State and Defence, and coordination of policy through established presidential processes. However, these are optics.
“Beyond the optics, the Trump Americans, who are the new political base, will still shape American policy irrespective of who the President is,” he writes.
“America First is here to stay. The American people believe that their education, employment and retirement have been impacted by the immigration, outsourcing and liberal trade policies of past administrations. Trump America does not want more migrants, legal or otherwise, in the United States. Trump America will not support the outsourcing of jobs at the cost of their own. Trump America wants a fair deal on trade that does not allow cheaper imports to put small American businesses out of business,” writes Gokhale. 📣 Express Explained is now on Telegram
Even a Biden administration cannot return America back to the days of open borders and free trade. It might terminate the travel ban, but it cannot reverse the immigration policy. It might relax some categories of work-visas, but it cannot return to the time when outsourcing was the preferred option for American companies. It might re-engage with the World Trade Organisation but it cannot tear down the trade barriers that Trump has erected in the name of Make in America. Biden’s own trade agenda looks a lot like Trump’s, if you leave out the tactics that are so offending to others.