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2020 US Presidential tide is shifting on a wave of protests




President Donald Trump has arrived at a bit of a slump in the election cycle, plunging in opinion polls to a new nadir and falling behind presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in political betting markets. And the catalyst for the shifting political landscape is a succession of national disasters to descend on the ‘land of the free and the home of the brave.’


Navigating a global pandemic that respects no state borders is challenging for any government, never mind the ensuing economic fallout as a direct consequence of extreme measures deployed to combat the new and unfamiliar virus’ deadly spread. Confronting a gathering lightning cloud of civil unrest ushering a third wave of national crisis is nothing short of the quintessential tipping point.


That is uniquely the case before the United States. Three consecutive events overwhelming society, the latter of which was brought on by the horrific death of George Floyd captured on video while in Minneapolis police custody – casting a spotlight on pathologies that have been rotting underneath the surface for many years, as citizens ponder fundamental questions about profound social injustice, debilitating racial discrimination and glaring socio-economic inequality.


It’s an election year in the United States but instead of electioneering, it’s America’s recession, riots and protests that have sidled up to the 2020 US Presidential race to the point of overtaking the narrative completely in American media agenda. Campaigns and election officials may be scurrying about in an attempt to get elections back on track. However, the focal point keeps reverting back to how one of the most unprecedented periods in American history, if not world history, is being managed.


Before the coronavirus pandemic came like a meteor out of nowhere, the US economy was robust. Unemployment figures were at a half-century low, financial markets were hopping, wages were on the up and so to was economic growth. All these points Trump was relying on to get him re-elected for a second term in office. Indeed, political analysts, pundits and bookmakers all cornered the race to the White House firmly with ‘the America first’ president.


And yet: in the space of 10 weeks it’s all come down like a house of cards. The US economy is on its knees with 40 million people rendered unemployed as a result of virus-mandated edits that forced widespread lockdowns, shuttering of businesses, and sent scores of people to shelter at varying stay-at-home restriction levels. A state of affairs that is inviting comparisons with the Great Depression of 1929.


Prognostications by the chair of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, who said that unemployment could reach 25% this year and that many of the jobs lost may never come back hasn’t helped the Trump administrations cause ahead of the 2020 US Elections.


Still worse is the knowledge that while the pandemic may have blindsided many nations not at the ready to deal with a public health crisis of such magnitude, it hit the US far greater than any other country. The week of George Floyd’s brutal death saw the United States’ Covid-19 death toll crack 100,000. Overall, the US has far more confirmed cases of covid-19 and far more deaths than any other nation around the world and that trend is continuing to grow.


Around the world, the toll of the coronavirus pandemic has been particularly significant within the Black, Asian and ethnic minority (BAEM) community. In the United States, where African Americans and Latinos combine for 100m (nearly a third of the population), they represent a large cross-section of those affected by the coronavirus pandemic, exacerbating the great gap in society which naturally spilled forth into the third national crisis to hit the United States in the first half of the year. When all is said and done, it may prove to be the most pivotal and defining event in modern history.


As it is, President Donald Trump or former vice president Joe Biden stands to inherit a divided America in November when the general elections get underway. As things currently stand, it appears that Biden is the frontrunner for the enormous challenge of repairing a broken nation. National opinion polls and oddsmakers all corner the presidential race in Biden’s camp and he’s come out to say he’s the right man for the job of ‘healing’ the nation.


However, punditocracy and bookmakers all got it spectacularly wrong in 2016 when the elections were tipped in favor of Hillary Clinton. The former Foreign Secretary did secure three million more votes to win the popular vote, but Trump won the only vote that really matters as far as claiming residency at the White House is concerned: the electoral college vote. And he did so by a huge margin.


The 2020 US Elections are five months away. If the lesson of the first six months of the year is: things can change in the blink of an eye. Then surely it is reasonable to expect more change to come. In other words, the presidential race is far from decided and the betting on it is a right tossup between Trump and Biden.