By Kartikay Singhal,
Donald Trump started his presidential campaign in 2016 piggybacking on his popularity as a celebrity, a successful billionaire businessman and a reality show host in 2003 and by picking up sensitive, volatile and controversial issues like advocating for stricter immigration laws and building a wall on Mexico – the USA border to prevent illegal immigration, bringing back jobs lost to China, etc. He spoke his mind on any issue without verifying the facts and publicly defamed his own party compatriots. His campaign slogan of “Make America Great Again”, (first said by former President Ronald Reagan) a message of both fear and hope resonated among the conservative ‘white American voters’, who form the majority of the Republican party members.
Donald Trump’s campaign through his vast resources used AI programs by Cambridge Analytica, to allegedly manipulate voters based on their individual beliefs. Voters received tailored messages based on fear and people with a conservative predisposition received advertisements which reiterated conservative beliefs. This showed each voter a different side of Donald Trump, simply pulling the right emotional trigger to influence voter opinion in his favour.
His rise to power has been a fairy tale of sorts. But that’s where the dream ended for the Americans, with the creation of a great divide amongst them on almost all issues of national importance, which was probably last seen during the Vietnam war.
The election was won, but President Trump almost immediately started losing ground due to his rather knee jerk approach to governance. This is what was capitalized by the Democrats in 2020 elections. Hence, Trump v/s Biden is an obvious comparison these days and it’s important too, so as to anticipate the shape of things to come.
The Republican party fears change and a shift in the balance of power. Their core belief is in favour of things to continue based on the ideals of the past which may have gotten outdated overtime. The rekindled Black Lives Matter movement brought back to focus on systematic racism, ignored for far too long by the Republican Party and denied by President Trump. Biden promises to bring about reforms and give out grants to address this issue in the justice system. Also, Joe Biden’s, choice of Kamala Harris a ‘women of Indian and African origin’ was akin to ‘hitting the bull’s eye’. This brought people out to vote.
On the free market, or simply put, capitalism in the context of the USA and its ardent support by the Republican Party manifests in the form of tax cuts and minimal regulation for the industry. At the same time, President Donald Trump is against American corporates outsourcing manufacturing to countries like China, to bring back jobs to America. He pledged to create ten million jobs in ten months. But this was ‘all talk and no result, even though the economy did come to life. President-Elect Biden plans to raise taxes for people having an annual income of over $400,000, and use them for public service along with raising of Federal minimum wage to $15 per hour (from $7.25).
On COVID, after his initial attempts to downplay the COVID-19 pandemic, Trump finally put $10 billion towards treatment and vaccine development. US withdrew from the WHO, blaming it for colluding with China on true facts about the origin of Coronavirus. Trump never attempted to fight COVID in a serious way. Biden is planning to set up a contact tracing program and plans to restore support for WHO. He also has declared “…….I’m going to ask the public for 100 days to mask. I think we will see a significant reduction…………”
On Climate change, a sceptic that Trump is, he advocated non-renewable resources to be used for electricity generation, etc. Yet the US withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord when he first became President and USA will formally exit it by end of 2020. Biden has assured the American people that he would re-join the accord as soon as his term begins and intends to ban new leases for oil and shale gas drilling on public land. Biden plans for the USA to reach net-carbon zero emissions by 2050, by investing $2 trillion in green energy.
On foreign policy, Trump’s biggest weakness, be it his promise to bring down US troop levels abroad or continuing to invest in military. While he failed with North Korea peace deal, withdrew from Iran deal and stumbled awkwardly by trying to intervene between India and Pakistan, he recently brokered few peace deals in the Middle East between Israel and UAE, Bahrain, Sudan termed as the Abraham Accords. Biden has been more cautious on his commitments, though gives an impression of building on whatever good been achieved.
Trade has been the other big highlight of Trump regime wherein he announced stiff tariffs against China and even product-specific ones on other Asian countries, challenging international alliances which are seemingly against US interests. Biden assures that he would do away with unilateral tariffs imposed on China by the Trump Administration and would instead, bring out policies with an international coalition which will instead hold China accountable.
In conclusion, the unconventional approach to policy and governance led to President Trump’s fall, including his love for Twitter. Yet, even as President-elect Biden is preparing for his presidency by appointing various members in his cabinet, Trump continues to baffle the world by alleging widespread voter fraud and still refuses to believe he has lost. Although President-elect Joe Biden has emerged the clear winner, after the confirmation of the majority of 270 electoral votes on 14 December 2020, the wait and watch game must be played till he takes oath as the 46th president of the United States of America.
Notwithstanding, surely the story of Rise and Fall of Donald Trump is over.
(This article has extracts from a previous research paper written by the author, who is a student at Jindal Global Law School, India, and can be reached at [email protected] Views are personal.)