With the Democratic Party having confirmed the nominations of former Vice- President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris, the stage seems set for possibly the bitterest electoral battle the United States has ever seen. Certainly, political rhetoric will plumb the depths, and early indications came as President Donald Trump announced immediately after the Democrats had confirmed their nominations that if Mr Biden won, China would “own the country”.
“I’m the only thing standing between the American Dream and total anarchy, madness and chaos,” the President told the conservative Council for National Policy, in Arlington, Virginia. He went on to accuse the Democrats of having spent “four straight days attacking America as a horrible and racist country that must be redeemed.”
Warning that the future of the country and of American civilisation was at stake, Mr Trump painted a doomsday scenario if his rivals triumphed. “It will be a totally different country…economically, it can’t work… we’ll go into a depression… your stocks will crash.” Mr Trump charged the Democrats with being anti-religion, of being determined to take away the Constitutional right to bear arms and of wanting to defund or even disband the police.
That many Americans believe every word Mr Trump says suggests that the debate will not see a nuanced conflict between varied prescriptions for the same ailment, but a no-holdsbarred battle between politicians with irreconcilable differences. Certainly, the Democrats can be expected to attack the President on his record of telling lies, on his inept handling of the coronavirus epidemic and on the stain of corruption that appears to have soiled his Presidency.
When, and if, the tenor of the debate becomes less acerbic and more substantive, they will target Mr Trump on each of the decisions he counts as an achievement ~ his withdrawals from the Paris agreement on climate change and the deal with Iran cemented by his predecessor; his handling of the Middle-east; his botched attempt at wooing North Korea; his cut back of taxes and his scrapping of environmental restrictions on American farmers.
An abiding theme through the course of the debate, and possibly even after polling day, will be the role of the United States Postal Service, with Mr. Trump already having charged that mail-in voting, a fairly common method of casting votes, will be riddled with fraud and delay.
Certainly, recent delays in mail delivery suggest there is substance to this argument and Democrats believe that the US Postmaster-General may be involved in a partisan attempt to sabotage the delivery of ballots to help Mr. Trump claim a victory; a charge that draws sustenance from the fact the officer has donated over a million dollars to the President’s campaign. A fifth of American voters had mailed in their votes in 2016, and thus the potential for mischief cannot be underestimated.