In November 2016, the United States stumbled into an unprecedented democratic experiment by electing a man for the most powerful and demanding job of the world, who had no political experience up to this point and mainly caused excitement through a mixture of spiteful statements and boorish non-conformity. Regarding his opponent in the race to the White House, he over and over again suggested to “lock her up”, one of the things he was most proud about to promote was building a “great wall” at the southern national boarder and when speaking at the Republican Party’s nomination event he told the world that “I alone can fix it”.
Now, four years later, the United States (and thus the whole world) is at a crossroads. Donald Trump has left behind a political shamble after his first term, making the worst-case case come true which many people might have imagined but not really believed in. But of course, America is not just Donald Trump – from an European point of view, the idea of a thriving transatlantic partnership is something we should try to keep up as long and as intense as possible. This country still is home to impressive companies which have advanced our way of living substantially, terrific masterminds who never stop pushing for a world in which the best is yet to come, wonderful natural landscapes which might never disappear from top-ranked travel destination lists and a social attitude towards life in general, that has encouraged millions of people all over the world to follow their dreams and pursue their individual idea of happiness.
In other words, to put it briefly: it would be an immeasurable loss in any thinkable way, if emphasizing differences rather than commonalities would continue at the political level. Having made a mistake is not good but excusable – just when not learning from previous failures, things often tend to get really bad. Hence, from my perspective it’s in particular 7 things which are on the ballot in this election (and which all require a resolute turnaround immediately).
1 – INTERNATIONAL COLLABORATION is on the ballot
The day of Donald Trump’s Inauguration ceremony, when even one of the dignified spots in front of the Capitol Building could not hold him back from proclaiming his slogan of #AmericaFirst over and over again, probably might have marked the dreadful shift in American foreign policy away from multilateralism by no longer pursuing international progress in terms of win-win outcomes. From then on, Haiti and African nations were called “shithole countries”, regarding the European Union he concluded “Nobody treats us much worse” and just this year he repeatedly renamed COVID-19 as the “China-Virus”. And while dropping of the Paris Agreement and stepping back from the Iran Deal, the President called Kim Jong Un a “great leader” and expressed his hope that Vladimir Putin might one day “be a friend”. To put it short: the damage he has caused to the reputation of American Global Leadership is terrible – and this hurts even more, as these days such diplomatic efforts might be needed more than ever before. Fighting back the pandemic needs global cooperation, dealing adequately with the continuous rise of China needs global cooperation and most and foremost tackling the climate crisis needs global cooperation. But working on something together rather than against each other seems to be illusionary during a second-term Trump presidency. His only partner in crime might be the Taliban and the Bin Laden family, as they both endorsed him for a reelection.
The conclusion however Joe Biden has drawn from this selfish ideology couldn’t be more accurate: “America first has made America Alone”.
2 – HEALTHCARE is on the ballot
“I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters” – that’s what Donald Trump said back in 2016 on a campaign rally. A couple of years later he has admittedly not put under proof whether this specific prediction might be valid or not, but he and his administration are clearly responsible for many tens of thousands of deaths due to inaction and mismanagement during the Corona virus pandemic. Regarding cumulative confirmed COVID-19 deaths per million people, the United States report ~5.7-times more cases than Germany (120 vs. 680 per million) and have even surpassed Italy (617 vs. 618 per million) few weeks ago – the country, which has suffered as one of the first and consequently as one of the most. However, when looking back to several statements of Donald Trump along the last months, there might be no doubts that he himself is the Master of Disaster: either suggesting to inject disinfectant as treatment, blaming the Spanish Flu for ending WWII or even admitting to play it down for avoiding “to create a panic” although knowing that the virus is “deadly stuff”. In the end, it all indicates that Bob Woodward was totally right when he said: “It’s a conclusion based on evidence, overwhelming evidence, that he could not rise to the occasion with the virus and tell the truth.” Nevertheless, as long as Donald Trump is in office, this nightmare might not end: when unveiling Amy Coney Barrett as Supreme Court nominee in September, the White House caused a ‘superspreader’ event and just a few days after he recovered from a (obviously) very serious progression of his own infection, the President himself continued to twist the facts on the pandemic while conducting campaign rallies with hundreds/thousands of people ignoring social-distancing and not wearing masks.
When making the case for Joe Biden on this topic, it might be enough to mention just one thing: “We are not prepared for a pandemic. (…) We need leadership that builds public trust, focuses on real threats, and mobilizes the world to stop outbreaks before they reach our shores.” – that’s what the former Vice President tweeted. Last October.
3 – EQUALITY/JUSTICE is on the ballot
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.“ – that’s how it is written within the second paragraph of the United States Declaration of Independence. In general, there should be no scope for interpretation – but when President Trump commented on New York City’s decision to write “Black Lives Matter” on Fifth Avenue by calling it a “symbol of hate”, he obviously admitted a fundamental lack of emotional connection towards the issues and disadvantages many BPoC still experience in America as well as all over the world. And instead of trying to heal these conflicts, he even fueled it during the first presidential debate back in September, when he refused to condemn white supremacists. But this intentional failure fighting basic equality rights is just one of several, as also expressed by his never-ending disrespect against women and his administration’s cruel approach of separating migrant children from their parents at the Mexican border in order to demonstrate a policy of “zero tolerance”. This very one-dimensional understanding of justice is extremely toxic for social peace and proves above all one thing quite clearly: for complying the demands of his loyal supporters and making them feel good, this man is able and willing to sacrifice the lives of many other (often disadvantaged) people by neglecting assistance to their everyday and often most basic challenges and needs.
A Biden presidency would probably not lead to an immediate solution for all issues (as the Obama presidency has shown) – but with Kamala Harris as a first female and first black Vice President ever, there might at least be no doubts that these issues get addressed with the required persistence and sensitivity for progressing in the long term.
4 – CLIMATE CHANGE is on the ballot
“It’ll start getting cooler, you just watch.” – that’s what Donald Trump responded to the alarming reports from California Secretary for Natural Resources regarding the terrifying wildfire season this year. Against this background, it probably does not need much more evidence to make clear that this man might be one of the worst choices to lead the biggest economy on this planet into a carbon-neutral future. The current President of the United States is just giving a shit about the most dangerous threat for humanity to be tackled in the 21st century, which might also have made him decide to drop out of the Paris Agreement. The good news however: many people and organizations have already moved beyond this incredible amount of ignorance and stupidity – Tesla is leading the shift to electric vehicles, Beyond Meat is building meat based on plants, NextEra (world’s largest solar and wind power generator) just surpassed ExxonMobil in market cap and generation from coal-fired powerplants is shrinking substantially although Donald Trump promised a comeback of this dinosaur-technology. Nevertheless, as the climate crisis is probably advancing faster than expected, these efforts might not be enough as time is running out: large-scale governmental investments for ramping up the deployment of clean energy technologies as well as ambitious environmental protection regulations will be key to ensure compliance with the goal of keeping the global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius.
Joe Biden seems to have got this message: his climate agenda proposes investments of $2 trillion over the next four years, while power-plant emissions should get down to zero by 2035. And (imho) equally important – the former Vice President is also expecting huge opportunities to be unleashed by this massive transformation ahead: “When Donald Trump thinks about climate change, all he can muster is one word: “hoax.” When I think about climate change, I think of a word as well: “jobs.” Good-paying, union jobs that put Americans to work.”
5 – The American Dream is on the ballot
MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN – that’s what Donald Trump has repeated like a prayer wheel during his presidential candidacy and beyond. And against this background, the most important (and maybe also only) thing which really matters to him seems to be the stock market – at least, when regarding how often he is keen to talk about it and mention his “tremendous” achievements. However, as with almost every other issue during his presidency, he is just spreading fairy tales of macro-social success all over the place. “Holding up the stock market as the barometer for how the middle class is doing is totally erroneous – and very misleading. […] It widens the gap between the top groups and those in the middle. It exacerbates wealth inequality.” – that’s how NYU professor Edward Wolff has put it into the right context. Consequently, it gets pretty clear what his economic focus and thus his policies are really all about: not as much prosperity as possible for the majority of the American people, but rather enriching himself, multinational corporations and his affluent friends. Individual contributions to the public budget are mainly seen as a waste of money, which makes it no surprise at all that his federal tax cuts were in particular one thing: a huge gift to for the wealthy 1%. And the president himself is a shabby crook, as the latest investigations have debunked a man paying $750 of taxes within the year he got elected Commander in chief. His bigotry of trying to fix every issue conceivable by closing a financial “deal” and making another one pay more – be it friend or foe – is so disturbing that one might come to the conclusion he is totally unable to distinguish between leading a country or a business. And derived from this, his divisive guiding principle might be summarized best by the following words: “If everyone thinks of himself, is thought of all.” (while knowing not everybody’s having equal opportunities and not giving a shit about it)
When Arnold Schwarzenegger, former governor of California and Republican, was recently asked about whether he is promoting “socialism”, he delivered a quite refreshing response: „Socialism is when you guarantee the same outcome. But what we’re doing is promoting the idea of starting at the starting line equally. And having everyone have a chance to start equally. So it’s like everyone should be able to go the gym, use the best gym, use the same equipment, same food supplements, whatever it is, but the outcome is never guaranteed.” Joe Biden’s vision of an America future which needs to be #BuildBackBetter aims exactly to this direction – from giving every American affordable health care, to improving racial economic equity and rebuilding the middle class.
6 – DEMOCRACY is on the ballot
The democratic implicitness President Obama has talked about on 9th November 2016, the day after last election night, should basically not be something worth mentioning: “I have instructed my team to follow the example that President Bush’s team has set eight years ago and work as hard as we can to make sure that this is a successful transition for the President Elect.” However, 4 years later, even the imagination of such a peaceful handover is a very hard thing to do if not impossible. In particular throughout recent months, Donald Trump has left no stone unturned to not only damage but also threaten American democracy. The US Postal Service got undermined by opposing to provide additional money for handling the significant increase regarding mail-in ballots. Ballot drop-off locations were to some extent reduced to a minimum (e.g. 1 ballot box for 4.7 people in Harris County, Texas). And whenever possible, the President himself is raising unsubstantiated doubts on the validity of this election in terms of voter fraud, refusing to commit to a peaceful transition of power and even ruling out a defeat in this election (“The only way we’re going to lose this election is if the election is rigged”). And as if this madness was not enough, there were many more very concerning developments throughout the past: abusing the presidency for improper purpose (Trump-Ukraine Impeachement), being not willing to denounce far-right QAnon conspiracy theories as well as having no scruples to push a new Supreme Court Justice – extremely aggressive and just 8 eight days before an upcoming federal election – through the Senat (probably by having in the back of his mind to “steal” the election by legal means throughout this new conservative majority). Putting the pieces together, it all indicates the Donald Trump is continuously trying to expand his personal power in office and trample down the barriers of the American constitution. Or, to put it in the words of David Frum who recently published a brilliant article at The Atlantic: “The most important ballot question in 2020 is not Joe Biden versus Donald Trump, or Democrat versus Republican. The most important question is: Will Trump get away with his corruption – will his crooked and authoritarian tactics succeed?”
With a change of power in the White House, this ceaseless sawing on the branch of democracy would for sure have an end and give the country at least four more years to not only get over this nightmare but also recover from it. And if you’re not yet convinced that the former Vice President definitely can be the right man for such extraordinary times ahead, I highly recommend taking a couple of minutes to watch Joe Biden receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom back in 2016.
7 – CHARACTER is on the ballot
Apart from all political issues mentioned above, this election in its core is also about personal values – and one’s expectation towards leadership. Donald Trump is a narcissist, calling himself a “very stable genius”, he is not even able to show a minimum of respect as he named Americans who died in war “Losers” and “Suckers” and he is a chronical liar (which probably doesn’t need any further evidence). Furthermore, he cannot stop disparaging his competitors (“Sleepy Joe”), he is a never ending attention-seeker (otherwise his whole media appearance couldn’t be explained) and he is sowing fear for his advantage wherever he can (“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending the best. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists and some, I assume are good people”). His amount of hubris is staggering (“Grab ‘em by the pussy. You can do anything.”), his “Art of the Deal” might be just about winning by being as ruthless as possible and his lack of self-discipline is unbelievable (“Trump reportedly got bore during one of his first classified briefings on Afghanistan and ordered milkshakes in the middle of it”)
Against this background, it is not surprising at all how John Kelly, retired Marine general and former White House chief of staff, has put it: „The depths of his dishonesty is just astounding to me. The dishonesty, the transactional nature of every relationship, though it’s more pathetic than anything else. He is the most flawed person I have ever met in my life.” And even beyond that, 780 retired generals, admirals, senior noncommissioned officers, ambassadors and senior national security officials have signed a letter in which they conclude a devastating judgment: “The current President has demonstrated he is not equal to the enormous responsibilities of his office; he cannot rise to meet challenges large or small.” In consideration of all of this, it might not be exaggerated to call Donald Trump the biggest disgrace for America in modern history.
Joe Biden, on the contrary, embodies so many personal traits that position himself as an excellent choice for leading the United States of America (and which Donald Trump fundamentally all lacks of): decency, dignity, humility, compassion, integrity, empathy and respect for office. In other words, to frame it a bit more precise: Joe Biden is the only one of both being able to behave and act presidential.
For summarizing now what is on the ballot in this election, it might just need four words:
THIS SHIT-SHOW MUST END (on Nov 3rd).
#BidenHarris2020 #BuildBackBetter #BidenLandslide #VoteHimOut #BlueWave
>> Cover Picture is taken from stocksnap.io <<