America’s next president will be the oldest ever, but who will it be?
By Matthew Fraser, Opinions Editor
The unfortunate reality is that few are likely motivated to vote for Joe Biden; many who are voting for Biden are voting against Trump.
November 3 is fast approaching (though you may be reading this after that day has come and gone). The strange and violent turmoil of this past summer may come to a head as some ballots are counted while others continue to pour in. Here in Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has already said that no matter the results, Canada will continue to work with whomever is chosen by the American people. However, the unique dynamics driving this election cannot be overlooked: the disastrous shouting match that both men put forth as the first debate, the shocking announcement of the President’s contraction of the coronavirus (and subsequent quick recovery), the fear of violence that may follow the election, and the economic pain that has been the story for millions of Americans throughout the pandemic—and lest we forget the continued spectre of police violence and racial tensions that looms over the American image and internal dynamics. Both men have been eager to castigate the other as the hand that will destroy the nation while portraying themselves as the hand that will rebuild, yet is it debatable how much good is in either of their legacies or future proposals. Still, here we are, a world as one watching an empire trapped in hysterics elect a leader to either correct its course or hasten its downfall.
Thus far, most predictions in mainstream media have Biden set to win the election; everyone from Politico to US election predictor Alan Lichtman are favouring Biden to return to the White House, only this time as Mr. President (granted almost every single poll got the 2016 election wrong). However, we are where we are in our world today because the Teflon Don has already achieved what seemed to be the impossible: in the 2016 election, although he lost the popular vote by 2.9 million votes, he was able to secure the electoral college and climb from The Apprentice’s high-backed chair into the world’s most powerful office. Which winds will blow and land a septuagenarian in the office this year?
Despite right-wing commentators like Ben Shapiro describing Joe Biden as a “Potemkin village of a candidate,” Biden is not at all popular with the left; in fact, Biden has gone out of his way to remind those on the left that he put down Bernie Sanders in the primaries and has supposedly closed the door—albeit gently—to people like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Though some may think Biden better than Trump, the fact that he will not support Medicare for All in the midst of a global pandemic wounds him in the eyes of the poor and downtrodden. And though Democrats tell workers they fight for them more than Republicans do, Biden has not managed to shake the stigma of NAFTA sucking jobs out of America (as former presidential candidate Ross Perot predicted).
While older voters tend to lean his way, Biden is nowhere near as popular with young POC, the group that many thought would be most alienated by Trump. According to polling data from Democracy Fund and UCLA Nationscape, Biden and Democrats struggle more with the young black voter; and it’s not surprising if you consider that this is the man who infamously authored the 1994 crime bill, who spoke highly of his segregationist coworkers and declared to radio host Charlamagne Tha God, that, “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.” And the Latino youth who came out to support “Tio Bernie” have not been drawn to Uncle Joe and his strangely hairy legs. Florida and Arizona, both states with large Latino populations, have shown increased support for Trump amongst Latinos. Not exactly a good sign for dear ole’ Joe.
If Trump won in 2016 due in no small part to the fact that he ran against Hillary Clinton (the most beatable woman in modern politics), Biden’s potential victory may come on account of Trump’s tremendous ill-repute. Nothing could be a bigger godsend for the seemingly senile saviour than Trump’s behaviour. The unfortunate reality is that few are likely motivated to vote for Joe Biden; many who are voting for Biden are voting against Trump. Trump’s previous high approval rating of 49 percent has been washed away by the self-induced beatings he has taken in the form of his COVID approval ratings which fell to 43 percent in October. Though many won’t admit it, it seems to be a reasonable surmisal to say that had coronavirus not dragged our world to a standstill, Trump may have been comfortably ahead in public support. Indeed, Democrats as a whole, and Joe Biden in particular, will be riding what may prove to be the largest rejection vote in American history. It is not for the policies Biden has proposed that will open the oval office doors to him again; it’s not for his radical, hope-filled campaign messages that Americans have braved a pandemic to line up for hours in order to vote; for many, the cold, horrified opinion that four more years of Trump might be impossible to survive—coupled with a disgusted rejection of what may be created if nothing is changed—is what makes Biden’s name on the ballot viable.
However, alongside his loyal contingent of dedicated and unshakeable supporters, Trump has managed to pull rappers like Lil Wayne, Lil Pump and 50 cent (though 50 is now saying he never liked him) into the fold. Granted many are minimally motivated by stars on either side, and celebrity endorsements of Trump may be meaningless, Trump’s support amongst Black and Latino men—like the aforementioned rappers—has grown. On top of this, anyone voting for Trump is motivated to cast that ballot for him. Despite his unique unpopularity, Trump may be able to wiggle out a win simply because too few people want Joe Biden compared to those who really do want Trump.
Though I mentioned that the left does not see Biden as a man from their ranks, Trump’s and the Republican party’s efforts to paint Biden as such may actually land with some Americans. As much as he has done anything, Trump has tried to paint Biden as a destroyer. His claims that Biden would “indoctrinate our children […] abolish the suburbs,” or the strange accusation that Biden “hurt God […] guns […] energy,” may find a home amongst some voting blocks. More accurately, Biden’s “return to normal” rhetoric is a thinly coded promise to continue the very policies and disregard for the working poor that made Trump possible in the first place. Though it is probable few people see Biden as the anti-Christ hellbent on annihilating suburbia, he is rightly recognizable as the embodiment of all that failed or broke and led to Trump’s demagoguery; 47 long years in politics for Biden and nary a feather for his cap. Obama may have chosen Biden as a symbol to the establishment that he was not too radical and that he would not shake up the system too much. Trump may not be running against a radical like Bernie Sanders, he may not be opposing an Alice Cooper-esque anti-Christ, but he is facing the old rock that stood against real progress.
So, what is to be made of all of this? Well, the first thing is that it is not impossible for Trump to recapture lightning and get re-elected. The second is that neither of these two historically old candidates are particularly desirable for their benefits to the world at-large. Dr. Cornel West said that he would rather a Joe Biden neoliberal disaster than a Donald Trump neofascist catastrophe. Which would you rather have?