08:51:27 am on
Wednesday 23 Sep 2020

Crises in America
RK Samuelson

The world watches as American goes through upheavals and displays its insecurity because of the covid-19 pandemic and racial equality protests. Across America, in large cities and small enclaves, citizens are trying to understand, rebound and make headway during one of the most turbulent times ever experienced in the history of America. Questions, confusion and opinions abound as to what has happened, what is currently happening and what could happen in the future and why.


The list of problems is long, covid-19 leads the pack.

Top of the list on the action agenda for America is the covid-19 outbreak and its affect. When Trump announced a ban on travel to and from China, there were those that thought he was crazy, but he wasn’t thorough enough. Thousands of infections came from those entering the USA from Europe. Trump helped reduce the overall effect the virus had infecting citizens, but it didn't stop the spread of the virus in America's largest cities, which Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York State did.

Nationwide shutdown of non-essential services was implemented, at once, and America went into hibernation. Reports from government sources, independent sources and other sources began describing the problems people were having, not the least of which was not receiving any income from jobs that had been shut down; other countries, such as Canada, found effective ways to sustain those unemployed by the pandemic. In the US, decisions were made on the national level that lumped everyone together rather than addressing outbreaks in affected areas.

Americans don't like being told what to do, let alone being directed to not work, not go to school, not go anywhere except to buy food and, otherwise, to stay away from everyone. America's economic activity lessened, significantly, in just a handful of days. Efforts to rebound from the disaster are underway and yet to be determined as effective or not.

As if the covid-19 outbreak wasn't enough stress for America, the murder, on 25 May 2020, of George Perry Floyd by Derek Chauvin, a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, caused complete upheaval. Underlying racial tensions have been a part of life in America since the beginning of slavery and continue to this day. The malicious killing of Floyd supplied a new focus for Black Rights activists and protests.


Radial injustice fuels protests.

The killing of Floyd was another in a long string of unnecessary deaths, at the hands of police, of against minorities in America and especially people of color. The list, of police killings, is almost endless and grows almost every day. Eric Garner, as Floyd, was choked to death by New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo, on 17 July 2014. In Austin, Texas, Javier Ambler II was killed by police during a pull-over for a traffic violation.

Nothing divides America as clearly and acutely as the issues surrounding racial inequality. Despite the danger posed by the potential spread of covid-19, Americans were protesting in huge crowds through the streets of every major city and most smaller towns. In a handful of cases, the protests led to violence and damage to people, government offices, monuments and businesses, large and small. The images on television and the internet seem replays from earlier racial conflicts all rolled together into one confrontation that was happening across America at the same moment.

President Trump wasted no time in declaring how he won the battle against the Coronavirus. With a cadre of experts and cabinet members to march in front of the public, Trump, repeatedly, presented America with his view of how well he and his administration have responded to the pandemic. In typical Trump style, he lavished praise on himself and his team for being ahead of the pack in confronting the danger. Few of his assertions were true.

Although the overall estimates of the pandemic death-rate, by Trump, have been low, his vigor and determination to put the best light possible on the situation have shown through in numerous ostensible press conferences and photo-ops. The events that occurred after the death of George Floyd were a chance for Trump to tout his leadership and administrative response to the disasters happening across the nation.

How Trump responded to the protesting, which took place in Washington DC, for example, has come under much scrutiny, as overly aggressive and unnecessary; pepper spraying and tear gassing non-violent protestors in Layfette Park, for example. The policies and decisions surrounding his handling of the covid-19 outbreak are under intense review. How Trump these crises raises ever more questions of his competence and leadership.


As the economy re-starts, covid-19 cases soar.

The pandemic and racial protests have brought basic changes in the way America works, now, and will into the future. The good news is the virus outbreak seems to be subsiding, although, as communities re-open, cases and deaths trend up. The unwelcome news is racial justice protests and social unrest have replaced the virus as the cause du jour and have garnered a great deal of attention from the media, worldwide.

The worse news is the combination of being cooped up for so long added to the social unrest over race issues and they have combined to form a lethal cocktail of economic, social, political and legal conflict. News reporters are having a heyday; there’s so much to cover. There is fodder for opinion columnists and talking heads on televised shows.


Election 2020 focus on lack of leadership.

The question for American voters in the November presidential election centres on leadership or a lack of leadership. President Trump and former Vice-President Biden are engaged in one of the most visceral political campaigns ever seen in the United States. Mudslinging and character assassination have risen to a new level for American politics, with derogatory remarks, name-calling and every other political nasty jab hurled unabashedly in front of media reporters and cameras.

Never has the divide between Republicans and Democrats been so wide, so obvious, so vicious and so seemingly irreconcilable. Republicans want law and order and emphasise order at all costs. The Democrats want to reinstate governmental authority, reduce the power and presence of police throughout America and protect the Affordable Care Act.

Because of the way the President managed the covid-19 outbreak and the race protests, there is the never-ending conflict of his animosity towards Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Party, in general. From the inauguration of Trump, in 2017, political progress and governance has ground to a halt; well, almost. Incompetent federal judges were approved by the Senate, which did little else, save obstruct House efforts to more the country forward.

Former Vice-President Joe Biden, at this writing the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, has limped along, with the failed Russian collusion campaign, impeachment and failure for the Senate to remove Trump and not being locked at home, unable to get out to political rallies to drum up support for his candidacy. He's also coming under increased pressure past involvement, of his son, with the Ukraine and China, although he’s out spent Trump, so far, on social media.


Americans are more frustrated than ever.

The outright anger and frustration Americans have directed toward the President have been largely due to his mishandling of the covid-19 outbreak and the race large-scale and widespread protests for racial justice. Although Trump is not responsible, directly, for the killing of George Floyd, in Minneapolis, the nationwide assault against minorities by Federal and State police agencies is a result of his attitude. Few citizens remember a time when political divisiveness and division was so clear, so violent or so stoked by the White House.

Older events, such as the Rodney King racial justice protests in Los Angeles, in 1992, return to focus as examples of the on-going failure of American leaders to address the social and economic disparities that exist among races and enforcement practices by police. The feeling runs deep and is a line has been drawn in the sand as far as what American citizens are willing to accept from their politicians and what they won't stand for. Issues, such as enforced sheltering, police tactics and other conflicts are pivotal subjects that must be decided and will be decided by the next election.


Ideological war of words and actions

The differences between President Trump and former Vice-President Biden couldn't be more distinct. Trump is a raging conservative, without a plan, but he pretends he isn't afraid to take on China, the global pandemic and the upheavals in his administration. Joe Biden, a buttoned-down liberal, wants to improve the structure of American politics, economics and social order.

Five hundred years ago, Niccolò Machiavelli, in The Prince, presaged the faceoff of Biden and Trump. Biden is a fox, against violence, favouring persuasion, innovation and a better future. Trump is a maniacal lion, willing to do whatever it takes to win and impede change, including violence, cutting individual rights and deception.

Trump and Biden share a problem. Both must get a disheveled and discontented nation back on track, ready for an election and they have only roughly six months to complete out the task. Traditionally, the run-up to an election is full of media advertisements, political rallies, and primary election results, but next election isn't going to follow the old rules.

This won’t be a time for niceties; there's no time to be nice if you want to win the Presidency of the United States. Shadows of Barack Obama, Hilary Clinton and, even, Bill Clinton swirl around both candidates. It will be a decision made by voters between all five players that will determine the outcome of the election.


Lying, cheating and stealing to get votes.

The last election showed, without a doubt, that a political neophyte, without a meaningful plan can win the presidency by lying, cheating or stealing. Trump found what it took to win an election, even as the underdog. Joe Biden spent eight years in the Obama White House; he gets what it takes to make headway through the political mazes of Washington. The question, in 2020, is what American wants, more chaos or order.

Trump is a businessman. Biden is a politician. Who will win the next election is a complete toss-up, for now?

Biden and Trump have significant funding, a history and controversies for the American public to consider. The future of America is quickly devolving into a race for the Presidency, as each candidate has a completely distinct perspective of how America should be run by its Chief Executive.

Polling makes the 2020 election outcome harder to predict, as no one, even pollsters, know if the problems they faced in 2016, such as exclusion of smart phone users, are solved. In 2016, pollsters had Hilary Clinton winning by a landslide, which didn't happen. Confidence in political polling has not recovered from the election of 2016, at least for the public and, perhaps, the media.


What will be, will be, fortunately or otherwise.

President Trump is counting on his record with the Stock Market, China trade, the covid-19 response and economic success to carry him in November. Joe Biden is counting on his opposition to President Trump on every front, the increased number of younger voters disillusioned with the current administration and having a larger number of the population on voting registers as Democrats than Republicans to win the election.

The question is whether the Trump constituency will turn out enmasse to re-elect him and be joined by independents, as in the 2016 election, or will Biden supporters turn out and overwhelm the process with sheer numbers? Policies, history, and provocations aside, the decision to be made in November by America's voters will be monumental and historic by all expectations, not only for America, but for the world.

Robert King Samuelson, in his own words, "is a perspiring writer trying raise his voice above the cackling insolence and fractured language of the bloggery."

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