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US Elections Enter Final Stretch (6 August 2020)

US Elections Enter Final Stretch (6 August 2020)

Why in News:

Amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the United States is all set to vote in the upcoming presidential elections due in November.

Context:

The elections are a direct contest between sitting US President and Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden, who was vice-president during the Barack Obama presidency.

Background:

Earlier on July 30, through a series of tweets, President Trump sparked a political firestorm in America after he suggested that the upcoming presidential elections should be delayed on account of the Covid-19 pandemic. Though, he later clarified saying that he does not want to delay the election, but expressed apprehension that counting of mailed ballots could take weeks and hamper the results, leading to a compromised poll. His suggestion was immediately criticized by leaders by the opposition Democratic Party. Meanwhile, Biden’s supporters have also announced a launch of outreach in 14 languages to influence the Indian-American community.

Summary of the Debate

Factors likely to influence the US election:

  • The coronavirus and the pandemic have really affected an outreach in terms of real campaigning that used to happen in the traditional manner.
  • The three vital issues going to figure this election are firstly coronavirus, secondly the economy and thirdly foreign policy particularly as regard to China.
  • The healthcare of the USA is wicked in many ways.
  • Both the candidates have been going hard at China because it does matter to convey that they are prepared to be tough where China is concerned.
  • There is a growing concern that China has taken away American jobs and China has adversely affected the American economy, China is playing a negative role in global affairs. So it does seem quite relevant for both the candidates to take a tough line towards China at this particular juncture.

Indian-Americans:

  • About 1.3 million Indian-Americans are expected to be voting this year and they are in a sizable presence in some of the biggest states of the USA like California, Texas, Florida, New York, etc. That is why the Indian-American community is watching with great interest.
  • The Indian-Americans make up only a very tiny voting or electoral group. However, this is one time where they will be more influential and their voice will be heard more and it will matter more, because of their increasing ability to support financially candidates and voice out their preference digitally as well as through word of mouth.
  • Indian-Americans are stuck between a rock and a hard place during this election. On the one hand they align with the values espoused by the Democratic Party like freedom, liberty liberal values, etc. And traditionally they voted a democrat. Almost 80 percent of Indians usually vote democrat in a previous couple of elections.
  • But in recent time in the democratic party even on Biden’s official election manifesto, his sort of what he wants to do for the Indian-American community is somewhere at the very very bottom.
  • There has been a divide between Indian communities regarding the US election.

India-USA relationship:

  • Both countries have witnessed a relatively good relationship for the first two years of Trump's presidency.
  • In the first half of 2019 the relations went off the track after the US terminated India's Generalized System of Preferences which allowed India to send certain goods to the US duty-free.
  • In most of Trump’s campaigns, he has emphasized the “America First" policy and criticizes the migrants of other counties for the Americans employment.
  • The democratic candidate Joe Biden in his campaign laying out his foreign policy vision stated that the US had to reach out to India and other Asian partners to strengthen ties with them.
  • But ahead of US Presidential election Biden has criticized the Indian government’s decision on the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), and has also asked New Delhi to take all necessary steps to restore rights of the people of Kashmir.

                    India – US New Age Relations [Mains Article] | IASToppers

Conclusion:

  • Whether the India factor will play a role in this election or not remains to be seen but the China factor will because China is increasingly regarded by American politics as a menace and both the candidates Trump and Biden is going very hard on China.
  • The largest democracy in the world and the oldest democracy in the world ought to work together, so one way or another both India and the USA need to take this relationship further.
  • The results of this upcoming election in the US matter greatly for the future of the United States. They matter greatly for the future of India-US relations as well.

Important points made by the Guests

Preity Upala, Political Analyst, California 

  • This is the most extraordinary election in US history. On the one hand, it is a very important election but on the other, it’s incredibly subdued the most ever in the entire history.
  • Foreign policy is going to end up being the heart of the election, with the COVID crisis and the dwindling economy President Trump had no choice but to now push the foreign policy agenda, he will make China the central focus in the month leading up to the election and in this regard he actually will have support not just from his base but also from across the country because the recent posts have shown the distrust and the disdain that the American public has shown towards China vis-a-vis the pandemic.
  • So, this actually works nicely for Trump on the contrary with the candidate Joe Biden he finds himself kind of on the back foot because he thinks the public does see him and his party being a little weaker on national security.
  • We have never seen a situation when the economy has played or will play such a big role in any election. This pandemic has had irreversible effects on the US economy.
  • According to the second quarter data USA may had the worst quarter in history this is worse than the depression of the late 1920s, the decline of the second-quarter GDP is 33 percent which is more than it’s ever been. Employment is higher than 11 percent.

Prabhu Dayal, Former Ambassador

  • President Trump has been blamed by the democrats for mishandling the coronavirus situation.
  • There are 4.8 million cases in USA today and there have been more than 15,9000 deaths and Trump is being blamed for having been very very careless in regard to handling the epidemic when it started.
  • Secondly, the economy has hit everybody; the economy is in really bad shape in the USA.
  • The Trump has promised to cut taxes in contrast Biden has promised a 3 trillion dollar package and has offered to raise the minimum wage, so they are pandering two different sections of the American electorate.
  • Their focus on China as the evil player in this entire situation is going to be very much there, Biden had been known to be in favour of comprehensive dialogue with China but now his position seems to be weakening in this regard he is changing his position and beginning to take a tougher position as regards human rights violations in China.
  • There is a certain degree of anger with President Trump and Republicans and even within the Republican Party; there is a sort of divide on this in this regard.
  •  Projecting China as an evil power and taking a tough stance towards China does suit their electoral policies and does fit in with the dynamics of the global situation.
  • President Trump has praised India for being tough with China in his view it is important to stand up to the Chinese whether it is in terms of technology or whether it is in terms of geopolitics, whether it relates to Ladakh or whether it relates to the South China Sea.
  • The relationship between Trump and Prime Minister Modi is warm and it has become warmer as time has elapsed, the Howdy Modi event was very significant then Namaste Trump here in India, but surprisingly this has not held back Trump from taking some tough steps against India whether it concerns H-1B Visas or whether it concerns tariffs on steel and Aluminium products or taking India out of the GSP preferred list.   

K.V. Prasad, Senior Associate Editor, The Tribune

  • The emerging issues in the USA in the recent time are which happened in Minneapolis for instance, defunding the police that became a big issue for a while and the Portland crisis has come in, the way American president has used the federal police or federal force in various aspects is already reaching out it’s standing out a debate in a different kind and also the Black lives matter.
  • Some of the Indian-Americans who voted the democrats last time half they can kind of bring them over, so while the number may be less but everything matters when the numbers add up because one thing which is a bane of American politics as much as another is getting the voter off, that has been an issue all the time.
  • One issue that India and the Indian-American would always like to look at it is what is going to happen from H-1B and the immigration issues.  

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