Joe Biden, looking plausibly presidential in Germany. In Detroit on July 31, he said that he would win Michigan by telling voters that he had a hand in the 2009 taxpayer bailout of General Motors. That GM spent much of the money on robots, financial machinations and offshore operations instead of jobs for Michiganders is something that he apparently expects those living in difficult circumstances to ignore. Photo by Kuhlmann – Munich Security Conference.
Trump, between panic and ethnic wars
by Marco A. Gandásegui, hijo
Few observers predicted two and a half years ago the impact that President Donald Trump would have on the world once installed in the White House. Similarly, many were surprised by the policies that apply within their country. In the case of Latin America, he acts with total detachment from international laws and without respect for the people who live here.
On a global scale, his declaration of commercial war against the Peoples Republic of China has caused panic among financiers and speculators. Uncertainty is added to this concern, since not even his intimate circle of collaborators knows what his next step will be. He discarded the climate change agreement. He abandoned the pact signed with Iran to prevent is nuclear proliferation. He is still active in the Middle East causing anxiety from Afghanistan to Libya. In sub-Saharan Africa, he endorses military coups, massacres and all kinds of abuses in order to keep that continent in a state of permanent instability. Something similar is promoted in Europe, dividing the “Old World,” demanding that it be militarized via NATO and subject to trade rules imposed by the White House.
During the 2016 campaign, he announced that he would put an end to the “globalization” proposals, regional trade agreements and policies to curb climate change upon which his three predecessors had worked for almost 25 years. He kept his word and, in addition, broke the silent pact with China, approached Russia and supported the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union. All under one slogan: “Make America Great Again.” Internally it has generated a war between protectionists and supporters of globalization. He has also taken historically retrograde steps that exacerbate the differences between the Euro-descendant (“white”) and African-American (“black”) ethnicities. He managed to put black, Hispanic, Asian and Native peoples into a single “non-white” category. Latin Americans, from Argentina to Mexico and in between are lumped together and dismissed as brown Latinos. White supremacists are organizing a movement that gains adherents, among other reasons, thanks to Trump’s speeches.
He is already on the presidential campaign trail preparing for the November 2020 elections. In 2016 he defeated favorite Hillary Clinton on the basis of a negative discourse that he used against both his Republican and Democratic opponents. He accused her of being a crook and insulted her supporters in television debates. His strategy, coupled with a devastating criticism of the de-industrialization caused by neoliberal policies, gave him the victory.
Trump figures that he can keep the advantage that he mustered in 201t and build on that to win other states that he lost in the last elections. The Democrats don’t think so. At the moment various of their primary candidates lead Trump in the polls.
The 2020 elections are going to be a Trump approval referendum. The New York magnate bets that economic growth (without decent jobs), a wall on the border with Mexico (which is not underway) and his ethnic discourse (which polarizes), will mobilize the votes of his base next year.
The Democrats have various cards to play. The main one is the powerful establishment machinery that has great financial resources and controls most of athe major new media. They have more than 20 primary candidates, none as fierce as Trump. The Democratic establishment has no coherent program to excite the voting mass. The left wing of the party is fierce enough to defeat Trump but has not yet built the broad social base it needs to win.
If nothing significant happens before November 2020, he’ll again win the Electoral College vote by the minimum difference.
Marco A. Gandasegui, hijo is a sociology professor at the University of Panama and a researcher at the Justo Arosemena Center for Latin American Studies.
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