Defend Truth

Opinionista

Unless the Democrats get a grip on America’s violence, Trump will win

mm

Jordan Griffiths is the acting chief of staff in the mayor’s office in Tshwane; he writes in his personal capacity.

I love Joe Biden, I think he is a skilled politician, a great person, someone whose political values I identify with and would likely support. But unless the Democrats get a grip on the violence in America’s cities, many of them Democratic strongholds, Donald Trump will be re-elected.

The US elections are just two months away. Scheduled for 3 November, they will see Joe Biden contest with Donald Trump to become president of the United States of America.

Personally, I love Joe Biden, I think he is a skilled politician, a great person and would make an excellent US president. He is someone whose political values I identify with and would likely support. I am also somewhat biased. 

I was a Mandela Washington Fellow (MWF) in 2018, which gave me the opportunity to spend six weeks at Arizona State University. It was a programme which was started by Barack Obama to draw in young leaders from around the African continent and to expose them to the US. Joe Biden was, of course, his vice-president.

Critically, one of the driving factors behind my support for Joe Biden is that he is a globalist. It is a position he has been criticised for by his opponents. While Trump chants America First as his motto, Biden has stood by the fact that he feels the US has a critical role to play in the world. 

Trump’s politics have included rallying against international organisations such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) and the United Nations, while embarking on prolonged trade wars, withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, and at times alienating some of America’s closest allies.

Biden has been the opposite, seeking to reassure allies, reinforce America’s position globally, and ensure its commitment to international treaties.

It is worth reflecting on globalism as a foreign policy approach in appreciating one of the most notable globalists of our time, namely Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister who recently announced his retirement due to health concerns. Abe is credited with providing clarity to Japan’s global identity. He ensured that the country took an assertive defensive position in response to an increasingly ambitious China, while balancing this with the provisions of the country’s pacifist constitution. 

As South Africans, we are watching from afar as the US electoral cycle plays out. While everyone will have their own opinions on the election and their favoured candidates, it is worth considering who, in fact, would be a better president for Africa – and for South Africa in particular. 

Abe has been at the forefront of driving major international trade agreements with the European Union and rallying economies in the Asia-Pacific region. He has advanced large-scale immigration reform to open up Japan to draw in migrants to help grow the country’s economy as it faces an ageing population. In the face of Covid-19, he also made the difficult decision to delay the Olympics. He leaves a legacy of championing globalism and strengthening Japan’s international position.

As South Africans, we are watching from afar as the US electoral cycle plays out. While everyone will have their own opinions on the election and their favoured candidates, it is worth considering who, in fact, would be a better president for Africa – and for South Africa in particular. 

If you are living in a developing country it is in your interest for leaders of the developed world to be globalists. Globalist leaders are more likely to drive through trade deals, engage proactively on immigration and international security, and often provide valuable funding or loans for core development projects. If you were to adopt this position, it would place Joe Biden as the better choice for the African continent. Particularly if one also considers Trump’s own personal views, when he referred to some parts of the continent as “shithole countries”.

Trump’s anti-globalist agenda has been reinforced by his criticism of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in its communication and management of the Covid-19 pandemic. The US is the biggest funder of the WHO, and Trump has leveraged this by continuously declaring that the organisation has failed in its role. He has furthermore indicated that the US will be withdrawing from the WHO. It is a position that has largely gone without criticism because, in many instances, what he said is correct. No one is authoritatively defending the WHO, because right now the organisation does not appear to have done a particularly good job. Trump’s position on the WHO has further entrenched his messaging of America First, and likely emboldened his core support base and the anti-globalist movement.

….Trump has been consistent in his messaging, calling for “Law and Order”, an end to the violence, and at times deploying federal forces. Whatever gains the initial BLM protests had hoped to achieve have now virtually been wiped out by the continued instances of violence, looting and deaths. 

Despite this, the Democrats were still unable to create a relevant critique of Trump’s own management and approach to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The response to the pandemic in the US has been fraught with politics and Trump’s messaging about the pandemic has often been callous and, at times, deeply unscientific, even politicising trivial matters such as the wearing of a mask. It was also clear that the approach wasn’t succeeding, with Biden reporting double-digit leads in the polls due to his more honest and compassionate approach to the impact of the virus. 

The American economy had also gone into a massive slump as a result of the virus, thus providing another avenue with which to criticise Trump’s administration.

The domestic situation in the US would change dramatically with the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on 25 May, which sparked Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests across the country. These protests were demands for changes to the justice system and reforming of the police, and they provided another rallying call for the Democrats. 

However, it soon became a political issue which the Democrats lost total control over. Increasingly, the protests became a cover for what would turn out to be full-scale looting, violence and destruction of property. The lines between Antifa and BLM have also become increasingly blurred, which has hurt the BLM cause. In Seattle, a Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) was established, declared a no-police zone, and administered by the community. It lasted a month, then a series of shootings in the area forced the Seattle mayor to sign an executive order to have the area cleared

Protests in Portland, Oregon, have been a daily occurrence since Floyd died at the hands of police, and have been running for over 90 days. Increased violence and looting in the city led to the deployment of federal troops to assist in restoring law and order. However, tensions increased significantly last week after another police shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where Jacob Blake was shot in the back. This resulted in mass protests in the city, which then saw another shooting take place where two BLM protestors were killed and another wounded. The shooter was not a policeman, but 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, who had driven from out of state to “protect businesses” from looting, only to then come into conflict with protestors.

The Democrats are caught between treading a line of trying to be progressive while confronting the fact that some of their cities are in a near-constant state of anarchy – and they are failing to adequately respond. If the violence continues, it will be incredibly difficult for them to rally their supporter base.

A few days after this shooting, protests intensified in Portland. Then, on Saturday 29 August, Trump supporters created a rally of their own and decided to drive into the city, which led to further confrontations with BLM supporters. This not only resulted in violent clashes, but also led to the death of a Trump supporter who was shot in the street.

In all of this, Trump has been consistent in his messaging, calling for “Law and Order”, an end to the violence, and at times deploying federal forces. Whatever gains the initial BLM protests had hoped to achieve have now virtually been wiped out by the continued instances of violence, looting and deaths. 

Joe Biden and the Democrats have been found wanting in their attempts to control this narrative. Their first problem being that the worst instances of violence have taken place in cities run by Democrat mayors in states with Democrat governors. Politically, BLM is closely associated with the Democrats and thus it has become easy for the Republicans to paint the violence as being orchestrated by Democrats. It is a strategy that has worked: as the violence has intensified, Biden’s strong lead in the polls has plummeted.

While Biden blames Trump for the riots, Trump blames Biden – this is increasingly polarising the politics in the country. However, Trump’s messaging is working: in Michigan, Biden’s lead dropped from 8.4% to 2.6%; in Pennsylvania it went from 7.4% to 5.8%; and in Wisconsin it dropped from 6.4% to 3.5%. All three of these states were traditionally Democrat and yet they were won by Trump in 2016. Biden needs these states. 

National polls at the end of August also show significant drops in Biden’s lead. JP Morgan has already indicated to investors that they should be prepared for a rising chance of Trump winning the election.

If the current protests continue, they will only further weaken Biden and undecided voters will switch to Trump, who is offering a clear solution to the violence, one on which he has been consistent. 

The Democrats are caught between treading a line of trying to be progressive while confronting the fact that some of their cities are in a near-constant state of anarchy – and they are failing to adequately respond. If the violence continues, it will be incredibly difficult for them to rally their supporter base.

Meanwhile, Republicans are rallying: Trump has already travelled to Kenosha to inspect the areas where the damage occurred during protests, while pushing the message that America will not be safe under Biden. 

The Democrats have two months to counter this; a process that will fail if the violence continues.

And if they fail, Trump will win. DM

Gallery

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted

MavericKids vol 3

How can a child learn to read if they don't have a book?

81% of South African children aged 10 can't read for meaning. You can help by pre-ordering a copy of MavericKids.

For every copy sold we will donate a copy to Gift of The Givers for children in need of reading support.