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In January of this strangest of years, unaware of what was coming down the line, I made a couple of what could be seen as rash decisions.
One was to resign from my full-time, relatively well-paid marketing job. I’d had enough and I wanted to focus on some personal, yet financially impotent projects.
Along came corona
The other was to write a piece suggesting that a Donald Trump re-election might be the least-worst option for the United States of America. Despite what some doomsayers had predicted when he won his first term in 2016, the world didn’t descend into complete chaos. There was no apocalypse, much to the disappointment of some radical leftists. What’s more, at the time of writing, there appeared to be a real possibility that the Democrats would select a candidate too leftist for the majority of the electorate, thereby playing into Trump’s hands.
Then, along came coronavirus and the Black Lives Matter protests. Things certainly did get quite chaotic, apocalyptic even, the world over and particularly so in the Land of Opportunity. The mishandling of both was levelled firmly — and understandably if exaggeratedly — at the feet of President Trump. It was looking so grim for the incumbent that it seemed the Democrats could put forward Nicolás Maduro — replete in a US tracksuit to entice some jingoistic Republicans to the cause — and still expect to comfortably win November’s election.
That fascinating prospect aside, up until recently, the biggest challenge for the challengers had been to ensure that their actual candidate, Joe Biden, stayed alive. The rest would take care of itself.
However, with the conventions of the Big Two now done and dusted, what were considered advantages for the Democrats just a few short weeks ago now appear to be working against them.
Whilst receiving widespread support initially, many US citizens are growing increasingly tired, angered even, by the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests. The Democrats, having fully supported the movement, are struggling to distance themselves from the rioting.
‘While the thoughts of a Trump victory are anathema to many, it could be the saving grace for the Democrats, a realisation that lunging left is politically suicidal.’
Trump’s playing of the law-and-order-president card appears to be hitting a sweet spot, despite the opposition pointing out, correctly, that the violence is happening under his watch. The thing is, while he is commander-in-chief, he can easily and effectively shift the blame. Radical leftists, who are pulling the Democrats’ strings, are behind it all. Images of the burning of his effigy by protesters serve to reinforce the point. With time and a November endorsement, he will restore calm. A Biden presidency, on the other hand, will do anything but.
The right calls?
The current pandemic will, of course, play a big role in the outcome of the election. Yet, despite the relatively high death toll in the US, should employment figures continue to improve ahead of election day, Trump has another positive to play with. ‘I had the economy roaring BC (Before Coronavirus), and the signs are it will bounce back quickly under my watch. All you’ll get with “Sleepy Joe” are higher taxes and rising unemployment.’ This is sure to resonate with many undecided, centrist voters.
The one, really only, bipartisan issue is the need to deal with a menacing China. Again, Trump can point to the hard line he has already taken in this regard. Can a soft-centred Democrat Party with its radical leftist undercurrent really be trusted to play tough with Beijing? It’s a pitch that the many doubters may just find too worrying to let slide.
Also, while the thoughts of a Trump victory are anathema to many, it could actually be the saving grace for the Democrats, a realisation that lunging left is politically suicidal. By veering back towards the centre, the party would become a far more formidable force for a Republican Party that will have its own soul-searching to do post Trump.
So, as we move into the final quarter of a year that many of us wish we could wipe from memory, my January rashness, despite all that’s happened, might actually prove to be rather prudent.
Getting out of my job when I did may have been the right move. I don’t feel worse off mentally in any case. And the US might just decide that it is better to go with ‘the devil you know’.
Whatever happens, the closing chapters of 2020 are set to be intriguing.
Listen to Wrong Way’s Colombia Cast podcast here.