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America’s future hangs in the balance till November

The economy is going into a tailspin as stock markets, where most people invest their life’s savings, tremble in fear of an impending recession.

ASHOK NILAKANTAN | New Delhi |

What ails America today? It is struggling with historic high inflation, never-ending gun violence, soaring gas prices in a car country, and to top it all shortage of several commodities including infant foods triggered by the sanctions against Russia and Iran that have crippled imports of vital commodities including crude, minerals, fertilisers and ores. The economy is going into a tailspin as stock markets, where most people invest their life’s savings, tremble in fear of an impending recession. Abortion rights have been struck down adding to young women’s woes. New gun laws agreed on by Congress are far from satisfactory to end violence. None of these appear to be the making of President Joe Biden, an experienced politician from Delaware who himself has led a troubled life.

He seems to have inherited a troubled legacy of misfortunes through the mismanagement of the pandemic and its aftereffects by his reckless predecessor, Donald Trump, a rank outsider to the Washington administration, and famous more for his rhetoric than for his governance. More pandemic protocols saved Democrat-ruled states as compared to Republican ones. At the last count USA was no 1 in Covid 19 infections and its variants with 5 million infected and no less than 500000 deaths. Under Biden, the USA was probably the first in the world to roll out Covid-19 vaccines to its citizens through Pfizer and Moderna.

Trump’s delayed response to the pandemic resulted in late shutdowns of the economy causing much harm to the economy. The American healthcare system came under severe stress although it may not have collapsed as in Spain, Italy, France or Germany. The point is that this was the turning point in the 2020 elections which cost Trump his presidency as people rallied around the Democrats and a seasoned politician in Biden. Due to the shutdowns, most American blue-collar workers living on daily wages lost their jobs, had mortgages to pay on their home loans and children to educate, all of which snowballed into a vote against the Republicans. More action than rhetoric was needed.

Trump was in a make-believe world and thought his problems would go away. They did not and greeted Biden. He inherited a bad economic and cultural legacy from his predecessor, one that had divided the nation bitterly. Even before Biden could settle down, a pile of garbage landed on his table and here’s only the recent rundown. First, the Buffalo shopping mall mass shootings in which 10 blacks died; second, the horrific mass shootings in a public school in Uvalde, Texas leaving 19 dead, third, the Russian invasion of Ukraine causing much distress to Nato members, fourth, the Russian president constantly threatening the West that he would press the nuclear button if Nato came to Ukraine’s rescue, and finally, the Supreme Court rulings on gun laws of New York state, and the overturning of the 50-year-old Roe vs Wade judgment that legalized abortion.

The US was forced to impose sanctions on Russia so that it would cripple Moscow’s exports and hurt its economy so that Vladimir Putin would find it difficult to sustain the war. Unfortunately, this is not the world of Swiss banks but of crypto currency, and Russia reportedly had spirited its reserves of billions of dollars into caches of crypto currency to absorb any shocks from sanctions as per leaked intelligence reports. Russia is one of the biggest suppliers of crude oil, fertilizers, iron ore and other minerals to the world. Post the meltdown of 2008, the US economy had recovered under the Obama administration. Just when things started to look up, the pandemic broke and its after-effects neutralized the gains. Biden had to start with a clean slate.

Biden found himself up against the Republicans and the powerful lobby of the National Rifles Association that was opposed to any form of gun control. Yet he got bipartisan legislation through Congress. But a conservative Supreme Court struck down a centuries old NY gun law putting a question mark on the new laws and their interpretation by lower courts. To add salt to the wound came the second Supreme Court ruling that overturned the 50-year-old Roe vs Wade abortions laws on the plea that it was murder of an infant.

While Biden was stunned, Trump felt triumphant that the three conservatives appointed by him to the bench swung the judgment. As America is in the midst of the midterm 2022 poll process, usually considered a referendum on an incumbent President, Trump has managed to hijack the agenda with huge publicity for himself through stunning victories in the GOP primaries where all his candidates have won tickets for the upcoming election.

Senior journalists and leading academics question the American media mindset to focus on Trump, facing impeachment in the Capitol Hill riots case in the Senate judiciary committee, while the nation is troubled by economic recession, soaring gas prices, infant food shortage and the RussiaUkraine war. Biden has supported the Democrat move to trump up the abortion rights reversal by the SC and the truncated New Gun law for the midterm polls, to counter the Republican tirade against economic recession and soaring gas prices. The Democrats want to nail Trump with impeachment for the Capitol Hill riots to expose his lies of a stolen election in 2020.

Ultimately, the future of America seems to hang in balance over the November House of Representatives elections where 435 seats are on the ballot and those to the Senate where 30 seats are in the fray. The outcome will determine the course of action of voters in the 2024 presidential elections. Trump is a clear winner for the Republican 2024 ticket even if he is impeached as his supporters don’t care. Can the Democrats crush the incoming tidal wave of Trump in the mid-terms and 2024?