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‘Reflections on the American election 2020’ by Stephanie McDermott

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The last eight days were exciting. We waited for every news bulletin in expectation. We went to bed wondering, if, by the time we woke up, what the latest news would be. There were conflicting reports, depending on what news channel we flicked on to, Trump is ahead, Biden is making gains, the postal ballots will favour Biden and so on. We all waited to hear who would get to the magic number of 270! On Saturday evening the news networks finally made a call on it. This was followed by Biden declaring the presidency. For many democratic and Biden supporters there was celebration, there was cheer. This was the dawning of a new day. His staff and supporters promised that he will bring dignity back to the White House. The dawning of a new chapter in American politics. A remove from what we have been witnessing for the past four years. A president who speaks his mind, who puts America first, whom, ‘calls it as it is’, whose diplomacy (if you could call it diplomacy) left so many heads of states, politicians and opponents lost for words, which also provided much fodder for the news networks, whatever their allegiance.

So now, president elect Joseph Robinette Biden Jr, has announced his presidency with the campaign slogan ‘its time for America to unite’. The election has heightened divisions in American society. We have been hearing a lot of rhetoric on class, gender, ethnicity, religious and cultural divisions in American society. Joe Biden has some job on his hands if he thinks he is going to unite America. Another white man in the white house!

The world watches and reports the election of Joe Biden. The world is also watching for the next move of Donald Trump. The action and behaviour of Donald Trump has become a preoccupation of millions, across the world, ‘what’s his next move’!! Joe Biden’s eventual declaration of the presidency has been overshadowed by the anticipation of Trump’s next move. It is a Soap Opera in many ways, entertaining if it was not real, that the election of the 46thpresident of the US has been eclipsed by the anticipation of actions of the 45th president of the US.

In many ways we need to feel a certain amount of sympathy for Joe Biden. Whilst million of voters voted for him and support a different approach in the White House, many of those voters were anti-Trump supporters. They may not have been pro democrat but rather anti Trump and were not happy with the Trump rhetoric, his record of ‘make America great again, again’, his perceived dismissing of people and issues, not listening to the medical experts on public health and the pandemic, his lack of commitment to acknowledge and condemn racism and the activities of White supremacists.

For days and weeks, we have listened to the reports of both Biden and Trump ‘fighting it out’, ‘neck and neck’ and ‘too close to call’ from well-respected and celebrated reporters and journalists. We have not considered the real change in American politics. Kamala Devi Harris, is the first female vice-president of the United States. Kamala, whose father is Jamaican, her mother Indian, was born in California. Harris, has had an illustrious career as a lawyer. She was also a leading advocate for social-justice reform following the death of George Floyd in police custody earlier this year. Racial injustice has become a major issue in the US. Some are sceptical as to Biden’s motives for selecting Harris as his running ‘mate’. That aside, the reality is that America has, as its vice president, the first female vice president that happens to be the child of immigrant parents.

Women, historically, have been overlooked, under-represented and systematically ignored. After Hilary Clinton’s surprise defeat, in the US election in 2016 many analysts cited misogyny as one of the reasons for her defeat. Is American society ready to embrace its first female vice-president? We await, with anticipation. The unfolding of the plan to ‘reunite America’ may need Kamala Devi Harris to execute that plan given the complexity and some would say, insurmountable task of the Oval office.

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