Election 2020: The Politics of Race, Gender, Economics and Xenophobia.
We have finally reached election eve 2020. Given this fact, numerous pundits, politicians, columnists, plain janes, and average joes are all weighing in with their analysis. Throughout the election season. Joe Biden and the Democrats have emphasized pluralism and diversity of all stripes — age, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, etc. Earlier this summer, California senator Kamala Harris made history by being the first woman of color to accept a nomination for vice president of the United States of America (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNaWPhzCcoo).
The message Biden and his fellow Democrats have sent to the country is that the America that he and Kamala Harris will preside over would be one of fairness and inclusion, where people from all walks of life would be welcomed, embraced, and treated with dignity and respect. Donald Trump and the Republicans have presided over an administration that has relied upon racism, imperialism, nationalism, virtue signaling, xenophobia, tribalism, embracing authoritarianism and a deliriously dangerous dose of fear and paranoia.
Donald Trump has made it clear that, if reelected, he and Mike Pence will continue to ensure that the nation is further riven with chronic levels of restriction, exclusion, illegality, and nationalism in a manner hitherto unseen. The tacit message of “Let’s make America great again” is that the nation should be White, male-dominated, and as homogeneous as possible. Needless to say, there was /is nothing “great” about such tyranny.
Those of you reading this article are likely to be politically active or, at the very least, politically curious citizens who are deeply attuned to and avidly astute about the current national political environment. Thus, rather than offering a detailed analysis of events, debates, and other issues that you have probably voraciously viewed, tenaciously tweeted on, or rabidly read about throughout this tumultuous presidential season, I will summarize the highlights of each campaign that I think are most noteworthy.
Joe Biden and the Democratic establishment have sent a message (arguably, subtly) to middle-aged, elderly, and more conservative voters that the moderates will control the party if Biden is elected. This is evident from the marginalization of the party’s more progressive voices.
However, this strategy may cause the Democrats problems on Tuesday if the Left feels they have been disrespected. Many left-wing, in particular, Bernie Sanders supporters who had their hearts and minds set on a Sanders presidency, view Biden as a business-friendly moderate. The truth is that many of them have decided to “hold their noses,” place their personal passions and emotions aside and reluctantly vote for Joe Biden, seeing him as the slight lesser of two evils.
If Biden wins, the party’s left wing has no intention of allowing him to freely run a neoliberal, corporate-friendly, business-as-usual presidency. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/10/16/progressives-warn-biden-no-corporate-lobbyists/?tid=ss_tw. They believe (and possibly rightly so) that a Biden victory would be due to the willingness of left-wing, progressive Democratic voters to place their trust in him and Kamala Harris. Thus, they will expect Biden to deliver on many or most, if not all, of their expectations and demands. Otherwise, 2022 could prove to be a repeat of 2010, when the Democrats were demolished in the midterms or eve result in a political debacle resulting in even more dramatic consequences.
The acidic message that Donald Trump and the GOP have sent to their sizable MAGA-inspired base and to undecided voters is that the Republican party will brutally confront radicals and other dissenters (read “left-wing protesters”) who dare to challenge the supposedly “silent majority” (read conservative White people)for perpetrating racial, political, social, and other injustices. Such politically, retrograde rhetoric has echoes of Richard Nixon’s racially coded distorted law and order message that defined his 1968 presidential campaign.
No reasonable person would dispute that the Democrats have decided (although awkwardly at times) to promote an inclusive tent filled with a potpourri of diversity. In contrast, the Republicans have chosen to employ a searing, regressive, nationalistic, right-wing populistic message, venomously laced with rancid racism, anti-Semitism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia with the perverse intention of inducing horrifying levels of fear among White voters. Such brazenly naked appeals to racial fear and resentment could end up backfiring on the GOP, as many moderate Republicans may either refuse to vote and stay at home on election day or opt for the Democrats. In fact, recent polls have indicated that many have already done so. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/09/29/biden-republicans-may-transform-american-politics/?tid=ss_tw
One thing that has been very disconcerting to many people, myself included, is the fact that neither Biden nor Trump have effectively or even adequately addressed the current state of the less than stable economy, people losing their jobs, being deprived of health care, a decent living wage, education, environmental issues and other everyday issues that affect the majority of ordinary rank and file Americans. While the CVID-19 pandemic is REAL and must be aggressively addressed. it is not the sole in the lives of most of us. The basic kitchen table issues that impact more than a few people have been marginalized and largely ignored by both parties. This is unacceptable.
The hard truth is that most voters have already made up their minds. Although there are pockets of undecided voters, they are few and far between. Third-party candidates will prove much less decisive than they have been in more recent campaigns. Voter suppression, intimidation, mail fraud, and other sinister shenanigans aside, only a minute segment of the non-partisan, independent, and eligible voting block will decide in which direction the nation will head.
Indeed, election eve is finally upon us. Will Trump and Mike Pence win a second term, or will Joe Biden be elected the 46th president of the United States and Kamala Harris become the first Black, first East Indian, and first woman elected as vice president of the United States of America? We will know the answer on November 3rd. One thing is for certain, regardless of the outcome, for good or ill, the nation is headed in a new direction. Period.
Elwood Watson PhD Historian, public speaker, and cultural critic is a professor at East Tennessee State University and the author of the recent book Keepin’ It Real: Essays on Race in Contemporary America (University of Chicago Press, press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/distributed/K/bo40060337.html), which is available in paperback and on Kindle via Amazon and other major book retailers.