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New Poll Shows Republicans Losing Voter-Base

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The Morning Consult poll released on March 30th headlines “Republicans Drive Biggest Decline in Voter Optimism since Trump Took Office: Record drop isn’t matched by a similar decrease in president’s approval rating.”

The U.S. budget-bill and its soaring federal deficits and debt, are driving this, as I pointed out on March 23rd, but I was mistaken at that time to interpret the data as showing more of a Republican disenchantment with Trump than a Republican disenchantment with congressional Republicans. It now seems clear that Republican voters aren’t moving away from Trump; they’re instead moving away from the Republican Party. Basically, there are as many Republicans as before, but their intensity of support for their Party is diminishing, and this declined voter-intensity will probably show up in November’s elections by a decreased voter-turnout at the polls in the mid-term elections.

The just-released MC poll was taken during 26-27 March, which was after my analysis on March 23rd, “Trump’s Base Abandoning Him”, had pointed out (correctly) that, “Increasing the size of the U.S. Government’s debt is, to Trump’s main base of political support (as reflected by the biggest online news-site that informs his electoral following), absolutely unacceptable. … The federal-debt issue is killing Trump politically. His voters don’t much care whether he starts World War III by his respecting and appointing such people as the super-neoconservative John Bolton. Bolton’s being loathed by ‘The libbys’ (liberals) convinces Trump’s followers that Bolton is ‘the right man for the job.’ By stark contrast, they’re rabid against Trump’s signing the Government’s budget bill. And, to them, that’s a much bigger issue than whether there will soon be a WW III.”

They’re not angry against Trump on account of their opposition to the soaring federal debt, such as I had inferred; they are instead blaming their Party for it.

Is Trump, consequently, like Reagan was, “the Teflon President”? Or, perhaps, instead, a tendency might exist for any authoritarian political party (such as Trump’s Republican Party, and also Clinton’s Democratic Party) to avoid despising its leader, regardless of how bad he or she might actually be (in this case, bad enough, even in the view of increasing numbers of Republicans, so as for Trump’s followers to start acknowledging that even when their Party controls all branches of the government, such as now, things become yet more “wrong track” than they had been before). After all: in authoritarianism, all praise goes upward to the leader, and all blame goes downward to the followers, and that’s exactly what’s now happening. Trump is home-free because he’s the leader, so only congressional Republicans receive their voters’ blame. (Perhaps, if Hillary Clinton were President, congressional Democrats would be the ones feeling the heat, as much as congressional Republicans are now. American voters were given a real choice only between two unappealing options, and the outcome could just as well have been determined by a coin-toss.)

Whereas Trump infuriated his base on March 23rd by saying he’d sign the budget-bill, Republicans are overwhelmingly blaming congressional Republicans, instead of blaming the Republican President, for this outcome, which so depresses Republicans.

The MC poll shows that among Republicans (including Trump’s core base): “there was a 22 point negative swing on the right direction/wrong track question, with 64 percent of Republicans saying the country is moving in the right direction and 36 percent taking the opposing view. In the March 15-19 survey, 75 percent of GOP voters were optimistic and 25 percent were pessimistic.” That’s a sudden +11% surge in national pessimism, and a sudden -11% plunge in national optimism, among Republicans, which, together, has produced a 22% swing amongst Republicans toward the pessimism-direction. (By contrast, “Among Democrats, net approval of the nation’s direction in the latest poll slid 8 points, while independents had a 14 point decline.” Those figures are obviously much smaller than the 22% decline amongst Republicans. Right after the budget-bill which so disturbed the Republican base, their national optimism plunged from 75/25 optimism, a 3-to-1 ratio, to 64/36 optimism, a 1.78-to-1 ratio — a huge and sudden fall — and the simultaneous appointment of the hyper-neoconservative Bolton had nothing to do with any decline of support from Trump’s base. But the soaring federal debt definitely does.

The Morning Consult article also says, “This time around, though, public opinion and political experts interviewed on Thursday struggled to reach consensus on why voter optimism declined so significantly.” In my March 23rd article, I had explained it on the basis of key data: the massive swing was amongst core Trump-supporters, because they are enraged that their Party is causing the federal debt to soar, which is thus clearly the biggest issue among Trump’s base. But are they really blaming only their members of Congress for that? They’re not at all blaming their Republican President? Seems so, on the basis of the data.

The Morning Consult article then provided analysis from some of those “political experts”: for example, “Henry Olsen, senior fellow at the conservative Ethics & Public Policy Center, said the drop could be attributed to volatility in the stock market or recent developments regarding a potential conflict with North Korea.” However, according to my methodology — and no methodology was provided for Olsen’s analysis — neither of those factors shows in any data as being even relevant. However, I was wrong to have assumed that Republicans would blame the President instead of their Party. Here is how this absolution of Trump for the Republican core’s rage shows in these latest two MC polls:

Looking more deeply into the latest Morning Consult poll: Amongst Republicans, job-approval for Trump is 45% “Strongly Approve” (and this 45% of Republicans would constitute yet another measure of his voter-base, as consisting now of 45% of Republicans) and 36% “Somewhat Approve”; while 10% “Somewhat Disapprove” and 7% “Strongly Disapprove.” The total Republican electorate is the group which includes his voting-base, and his voting-base is measured either by that currently 45%, or else by the readers at Breitbart News — which latter group can reasonably be assumed to be even higher “Strongly Approve” than is the 45% of Republican voters who show up in MC’s “Strongly Approve” column for Trump. By comparison against that 45%: The second-highest-approving group for Trump that was tabulated by Morning Consult was “Conservative” at 38%; the third-highest was tied between “Evangelical” and “Retired,” both at 31% “Strongly Approve”; and the fourth-highest was “Rural” at 27%. So, clearly, Trump’s voter-base is mainly Republicans — even more than it’s conservatives, or evangelicals, or retireds, or rural voters. (Democrats, therefore, would be, at the very opposite extreme: progressives, seculars, young, and urban. Those are the weakest groups for Trump.)

In the immediately-prior MC poll, on 15-19 March, Republicans’ job-approval for Trump was 48% “Strongly Approve” and 33% “Somewhat Approve”; while 7% were “Somewhat Disapprove” and 9% were “Strongly Disapprove.” So: in the interim between these two pollings, the “Strongly Approve” went down, -3% from 48%, and the “Strongly Disapprove” also went down, -2% from 9%; and this simultaneous decline at both ends of intensity, means that amongst Republicans, sentiments regarding Trump’s Presidency are moving toward lowered intensity. Though overall there was 81% approval of Trump by Republicans in both of the pollings, Republicans are now less intense than they previously had been regarding Trump.

Inasmuch as the main impact is therefore against congressional Republicans, and those are the very people who are running in the mid-term elections, this is yet another indication that the Democratic Party stands a chance of retaking either or both the House and the Senate. (Unless, of course, the anti-Bernie-Sanders — pro-Hillary-Clinton — Democratic Party faction continues its control of that Party so much so that voter-turnout on the Democratic side becomes likewise depressed in November — which could happen; it might even be likely to happen, because the Clintonites won the battle for the DNC’s leadership after Hillary’s defeat; they’re even especially seeking out candidates from the military.)

The Breitbart homepage on March 30th was dominated not by stories about the soaring federal debt (which the readers there are more concerned about than they are about any other issue), but by stories about gun-control

, though with sprinklings of other targets of hostility from conservatives, such as against prominent Democrats, and such as against perceived threats or dangers to Christianity in America. Whereas Democratic Party propaganda focuses on minorities and women as being victims, Republican Party propaganda focuses on the majority and men as being victims. The two Parties label opposite ends of the political power-structure as ‘victims’, which are being characterized, as such, depending not on economic class, but instead upon such factors as gender and ethnicity.

Both Parties focus away from economic class as being an issue, and make their voter-appeals on the basis of other factors, such as race, religion, gender, etc., in order to keep the focus away from the money-power matter — the aristocracy’s control over the country.

This is the standard way for political parties to operate. For thousands of years, partisan (cultural and gender) differences have been the way the aristocracy — the 0.01% who own more than the bottom 50% and who always fund politics — get each “I” among the public (the bottom 99.9%) to self-identify, so as to blame some “non-I” category (men, women, Whites, Blacks, etc.), instead of to blame the aristocracy, for any problems the particular “I” might have. The rulers’ purpose is to prevent their accountability — for each citizen, all blame will go either sideways, or else downward to that individual’s ‘inferiors’; and all credit will go only upward, to the person’s ‘superiors’. For examples of this: both Bush and Obama are viewed merely as former Presidents, instead of as also having been traitors; and both Charles Koch and George Soros are seen merely as successful businessmen and “philanthropists,” instead of as top gangsters, who shape and bend the laws, instead of merely break the laws. That’s normal.

Especially worthy of note is that the Breitbart site — where, on March 23rd, it was clear that the overwhelming concern of Republican voters is the federal debt — the response from Republican propagandists has been to turn away from the Government-debt issue, into strictly partisan issues, instead: that is, into, basically, distractions. Democratic Party propagandists, likewise, use this tactic, on their side (its Hillary faction especially does; its Bernie faction, which doesn’t control the Party, does not, but instead focuses on class-issues — and it loses because the aristocracy don’t want that type of political focus).

By thus confusing and distracting the voters, the same Establishment continues to rule, regardless of which of the two Parties is in control. Thus, for example, Americans went from invading and occupying Iraq for the U.S. aristocracy in 2003, to invading Libya for the U.S. aristocracy in 2011, and to invading and occupying Syria for the U.S. aristocracy since 2012, and increasingly to surrounding Russia by our weapons and troops (in Ukraine and in NATO) for the U.S. aristocracy, thus constantly all the while militarizing the U.S. economy. So long as the voters remain distracted and split by nationalistic or other partisan concerns, the Government remains the same, and it effectively controls the public (and public policy), in the ways (such as militarizing the economy) that the people who are in actual control require the public to be controlled, in America’s ‘democracy’. It’s like a guided economy, but the real “guides” are billionaires, instead of Government officials (who actually are indirectly being paid by, and serving, those “guides”).

For at least thousands of years, the aristocracy have commonly controlled the public by spreading dissension amongst the public, and especially by demonizing the residents (and especially the leadership) in a foreign territory that the given aristocracy wants to grab: ‘the nation’s enemies’. (For example, the Sauds and Israel’s aristocracy are America’s ‘allies’, while Iran’s and Russia’s are America’s ‘enemies’.) It’s the same now, as ever. In such a country, there’s no change, but there instead is ‘change’. So: usually, the ‘change’-candidate wins. And the more that things ‘change’, the more they just stay the same. And voters consequently become increasingly alienated from ‘their’ government, because it’s not really theirs. That’s what’s actually happening, to America, as shown by the relevant data.

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010

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The crisis of positivist, “evidence-based” political science in US

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Right from its birth in the 18th century, the United States of America emerged as one of the most advanced countries, or even the most advanced one in terms of government organization and the ideology of state building. The newly independent British colony got a chance to shed off the past and start from the ground up, and the Founding Fathers, as they are called in the US, used this chance to the max, erecting the three pillars of the American political order – the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which laid out the most progressive ideas of their time: human rights, democratic procedures, separation of powers, trial by jury, broad state autonomy, social contract, free speech, and many others.

The period of the rapid development of these ideas, akin to the French Enlightenment, has since been known in America as the “Age of Reason.” This time period, just like the ideas and principles it generated, is closely associated with empiricism and positivism – the two dominant philosophical streaks of that time, which denied philosophy as such and prioritized a scientific fact, an observed phenomenon, an experiment, logic, and ignored theoretical philosophical constructions, complex models and hypotheses not supported by scientific data. Back then, this new philosophy was the philosophy of science and was conceived as something that would replace the outdated classical philosophy with its interweaving of worldview, morality and faith, and remove ethics from the speculative structure of society, with its characteristic disregard for experiment as a method of cognition.

Today, almost 250 years since the adoption of the US Constitution, many elements of the American state system have not only lost their original progressive meaning but even look downright archaic. The most vivid examples of this are the life-long appointment of Supreme Court justices, who maintain their positions for decades, the electoral system of voting, whereby members of state electoral colleges are not obligated to vote according to the will of the people of that state, and the decentralized legal system, where precedents are superimposed on precedents, and the passage of a new law does not entail a revision of the old one.

Even though this archaism is obvious to any unbiased observer, not only are there no active discussions about constitutional reform or at least new amendments to the fundamental law of the land, but there are heated discussions going in Congress, the media and universities about how to interpret provisions of the ancient document in such a way as to better reflect the founding fathers’ ideas.

Any liberal arts education in the United States, from the high-school level  up, includes a detailed study, not critical, but apologetic, of the history of the founding of the United States, the adoption of the Constitution and the early  period of the US as a country. The personalities of the founding fathers and their philosophical views are front and center in most of these courses, and the higher the prestige of the educational institution, the more diligently the knowledge of the “essential foundations” of American statehood is implanted in the students’ minds.

As a result, the overwhelming majority of America’s intellectual elite leave their universities with deep faith in the sacredness of the US Constitution and the principles embedded in it. They are also steeped in the very spirit of empiricism and positivism of the Age of Reason. These are exactly the philosophical doctrines that shaped the development of humanitarian sciences in the United States and continue to do so today, even though they have long been considered in Europe as limited, to say the least.

This is also why scientific psychology has been reduced to behaviorism and the theory of historical stages has been dismissed, replaced by a civilizational approach and the so-called “evidence-based” or “fact-based” political science, which is the centerpiece of this article.

The seeds of political science and sociology, which fell into the fertile American soil in the first half of the 20th century, were soaked in the juices of the developed political class, their young shoots basked in the rays of a fleeting electoral cycle and an all-pervading electoral system, and their flowers were brighter than anywhere else. Election managers have never experienced any shortage of money and resources, and experts, who were able to predict the voters’ reaction, awaited universal respect and cushy jobs. 

Now, in the run-up to the 21st year of the new century, America has a whole army of sociologists and political scientists, with regiments and divisions “deployed” in every state and in every district of each state. This army is big enough to simultaneously serve the election campaigns of two presidential candidates, dozens of candidates for state governors, hundreds of congressional and senatorial hopefuls, and thousands of candidates for elected positions in local administrations. This 300,000-strong army has its own soldiers – street agitators, and its generals – campaign managers. It also has its own intelligence – sociological institutions and political spin doctors, trying to analyze the voters’ preferences and work out the best strategy and tactics.

It would seem that all this multitude of people, endowed with almost unlimited resources, should have long ago studied the political landscape of every single corner of America and provided an accurate forecast of the locals’ reaction to statements made by a politician, or steps taken by his  opponent. This doesn’t happen, however, and forecasts made by political scientists are disproved by reality. The biggest such flop ever was Donald Trump’s victory in the November 2016 presidential election.

This discrepancy between spent human and economic resources and the results attained has much to do with the culture of science and positivism that still prevails in American science. The positivist approach to science focuses on the search for objective truth, which can almost exclusively be achieved with the help of empirical facts and formal logic. This logic for centuries prevailed in physics, but even there it has been a subject of scathing criticism as it eventually turned out that the research method can affect the result of the research, and that one and the same object can have mutually exclusive properties, depending on how it is measured. This means that the fact obtained with so much effort is no longer absolute, and formal logic is simply insufficient in its toolbox.

These are the conclusions reached by physicists who study laws that are not subject to rapid change and are independent of human culture – a discovery that seems to have been completely overlooked by US political scientists, who still conduct public opinion polls as if the question never predetermines the answer, even though this is almost always the case. They avoid making assumptions, because they do not know all the facts, and try to objectively measure the immeasurable – the constantly changing moods of the mass of people divided into thousands of groups according to geographic, gender, age, educational, professional and other factors. And each of the millions of people polled represents a mixture of cultures, religions and ideologies and can change his or her opinion on a given issue every day, even a dozen times a day.

Such a system of studying the electorate and the related forecasting method are doomed to failure. Even if the combined forces of sociologists and political scientists were a hundred times larger and at a certain moment in time could collect data on the people’s preferences that would meet the strictest scientific criteria, the next day this information would be no longer relevant, and the whole work would have to be done again… In real life, however, this does not happen either.

Thus, US political scientists, who have always been taught not to invent theories, but only generalize the available facts, are chasing these facts and use them indiscriminately. Can an ordinary Biden election campaign expert run a scientific check on and compare multi-page descriptions of survey methods, when dozens of surveys are conducted each week, and sometimes, each day? Of course not, and so experts rely on the authority and decency of the organization that provides the “facts.” At best, they summarize the results of several surveys, and at worst, they use the one that suits them best.

This is the case at the level of data synthesis and forecasting, based on this generalization, but things are even worth when it comes to research and data collection. In an ever-changing environment, when precious “facts” become irrelevant in a matter of hours, research teams have to rely on the speed of research, rather than its coverage, representativeness or accuracy. This constant race leads to the emergence of such Frankenstein sociological monsters as a poll, where the difference in the candidates’ ratings is less than the margin of error allowed by the researcher, or a methodologically flawed survey, deliberately presented as an All-American poll that less than 1,000 people took part in.

And yet, US sociologists and political scientists still stick to positivism, because positivism is the true-blue American way. Never mind that these principles and methods, invented to study the eternal laws of nature, are now used to “study” the ever-changing mood of the crowd.

The bigger the process that the American system of public opinion research  tries to study or predict, the worse the result: while it works almost impeccably in local elections, at the level of elections to Congress it starts to fail, and during presidential elections things get real bad. A positivist analysis is impossible where you have no positivist facts, which means that the winner will be the one who better applies different methods of analysis. However, such methods are nowhere to find in the American universe, and those who successfully apply them are said to have “guessed.”

According to the American elite, in 2016, Trump “guessed” exactly what the conservative voter wanted. He is “guessing” again this year, while Democrats, also forced to engage in guesswork, use their favorite tactics of “identity politics”: they nominate those who they believe best relate to their typical supporter in terms of demographic indicators – an elderly white middle-aged male, and an African-American woman.

Which of them guessed better the whole world will know very soon.

From our partner International Affairs

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Israel, the Middle East and Joe Biden

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Photo by Adam Schultz

How will a Biden Administration change American policies on Iran, the Palestinians and Israel’s tightening relationships with Arab states?

Some two years ago, Democrats harshly attacked Trump for withdrawing US troops from Syria and thereby undermining the alliance with the Kurds. However, Democratic leaders also favor a reduced US presence in the Middle East and understand the region’s declining relevance to US global policy.  It was Democrat Obama who withdrew US troops from the Iraqi bloodbath; Biden, if elected, will presumably continue a similar course. The US is no longer dependent on Middle Eastern oil, China is perceived as its greatest threat, and the defeat of ISIS has lowered the strategic terror threat level to US national security.

Biden, just like Trump and Obama, probably believes that the US can downscale its presence in the region and rely on its allies (the Gulf states, Egypt, Jordan and Israel, of course) and on the alliances being forged between its partners over the past two decades. The US could increase aid to a specific ally at a time of need (as was the case with the massive 2014 influx of Syrian refugees into Jordan) or Iraq (during the fighting with ISIS), but it is loath to continue meddling in local conflicts. What is more, the painful lesson of the intervention in Iraq has dissolved the Bush Administration’s messianic belief in the democratization of the Middle East. Concern about Russia or China filling the vacuum left by the US is also no longer deterring US leaders (like Obama and Trump) who are trying to score points with voters by troops drawdowns and free the administration up to deal with different matters, among them the “Pivot to Asia”.

As a Democrat, Biden is expected to be more sensitive than Trump to human rights violations in the Middle East. He condemned the conduct of the Saudi regime following the murder of exiled journalist Jamal Khashoggi in fairly harsh language several times and also called for curbing weapons sales to Riyadh.

However, if elected, Biden’s first order of business will be dealing with the biggest health and economic crisis the US has experienced since 1929. He will have to create jobs and deal with thousands of burning domestic matters. Those will be his flagship issues. He may have to set aside his moral repugnance and allow weapons exports to prevent job and profit losses for Americans. Trump, too, was harshly critical of Saudi Arabia prior to his election, but subsequently changed his tune and conducted his first overseas trip there as president.

One can cautiously assess that any change in US policy toward the Gulf would not undermine Israel’s rapprochement with those states. The strategic regional threats (expansion of Iran’s hegemony and its violations of the nuclear agreement, as well as Turkish activity in the region) will remain unchanged, and therefore the interest in economic and security cooperation between Israel and Gulf states will remain. Arab states that traditionally view Israel as a bridge to the White House could try to exploit this now official relationship to promote their standing with Congress and a new administration, if one is installed.

Biden’s position on the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) is of concern these days to both Israeli and Arab leaders, which could further cement their ties. Arab leaders are concerned about Biden rejoining and reviving the deal that Trump abandoned. They are relying on Biden’s criticism of the unilateral US pullout from the agreement and his declaration that he would make every effort to rejoin it. Nonetheless, Biden’s people seem to understand that they cannot simply turn back the clock. Blinken, one of Biden’s closest aides and potential future national security adviser, has said in interviews that the US would not return to the agreement until Iran fulfills all its commitments – meaning, until Iran walks back all its violations of the agreement. It is hard to predict just how Biden might draw Iran to the negotiating table, but as long as such an option is viable, Israel, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other Gulf states will have sufficient grounds to close ranks.

Biden is a sworn supporter of the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He is expected to re-open the US Consulate in East Jerusalem, restore US aid to the Palestinians and invite the PLO ambassador back to Washington. However, this does not mean that he will place the Palestinian issue on his list of priorities, especially given the domestic crisis and ongoing tensions with China. The Palestinian issue is unlikely to return to center stage following a change in the US administration. The Arab world is growing increasingly weak as the coronavirus continues to spread, the economic crisis deepens and unemployment rises. Arab states also fear that the major non-Arab states in the region – Turkey and Iran – will exploit this weakness. Should that happen, the Palestinian issue is unlikely to attract much interest from key Arab states, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt, which also dictate the conduct of the Arab League.

That said, should Biden decide to revive the Arab Peace Initiative and mobilize Saudi and other Arab support (perhaps in return for a more determined US stand on Iran, the supply of US strategic weapons, etc.), pressure on Israel over the Palestinian issue could re-emerge. If Israel chooses to respond with accelerated construction in the settlements, in defiance of US policy, states such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE would likely toe the line of the US administration but would not cut ties with Israel as a result.

In conclusion, a Biden victory would not affect the strengthening relationship between Israel and Arab states, especially if he opts to focus on the Iranian issue and a US return to the JCPOA. The Middle East’s relevance to the US is expected to continue its decline, prompting cooperation among its partners in the region in order to forge a robust front and repel threats from the non-Arab states (Iran and Turkey). A changed US approach to the Palestinian issue could increase pressure on Israel slightly, but is not expected to substantially change the current dynamics.

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Prospects for U.S.-China Relations in the Biden Era

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The U.S. presidential election which will be held on November 3 is drawing ever closer. As the Trump administration performs poorly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, where the death toll in the U.S. exceeded 210,000, the election trend appears to be very unfavorable for Donald Trump.

According to a recent poll conducted by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal, Joe Biden led Trump by 14 percentage points in the national elections. It is worth noting that retired American generals, who have traditionally been extremely low-key in politics, publicly supported Biden this year, something that is quite rare. On September 24, 489 retired generals and admirals, former national security officials and diplomats signed a joint letter in support of Biden. Among them are Republicans, Democrats, and non-partisans, showing that they have crossed the affiliation, and jointly support Biden to replace Trump. Although the opinion polls do not represent the final election, with the election only being one month away, the widening of the opinion gap is enough to predict the direction of the election.

For the whole world, especially for China, it is necessary to prepare for the advent of a possible Biden era of the United States. During Trump’s tenure, U.S.-China relations have taken a turn for the worse, and China has been listed as the foremost “long-term strategic competitor” of the United States.

There is a general view in China that after the Democratic Party comes to power, U.S.-China relations may worsen. The reason is that the Democratic Party places more emphasis on values such as human rights and ideology and is accustomed to using values such as human rights, democracy, and freedom in foreign policies against China. However, as far as U.S.-China relations are concerned, it is too vague to use the simple dichotomic “good” or “bad” to summarize the relationship of the two countries.

However, it is certain that after Biden takes office, his policies will be different from Trump’s. An important difference between Biden and Trump is that Biden will follow a certain order and geopolitical discipline to implement his own policies, and he will also seek cooperation with China in certain bottom-line principled arrangements. It should be stressed that it is crucial for China and the United States to reach some principled arrangements in their relations.

From an economic point of view, should Biden become the next President, the United States will likely ease its trade policy, which will alleviate China’s trade pressure. It can be expected that the Biden administration may quell the U.S.-China tariff war and adjust punitive tariff policies that lead to “lose-lose” policies. If Biden takes office, he might be more concerned about politics and U.S.-China balance. In terms of trade, although he would continue to stick to the general direction of the past, this would not be the main direction of his governance. Therefore, the U.S.-China trade war could see certain respite and may even stop. In that scenario, China as the largest trading partner of the United States, could hope for the pressures in the trade with the U.S. being reduced.

China must also realize that even if Biden takes power, some key areas of U.S.-China relations will not change, such as the strategic positioning of China as the “long-term strategic competitor” of the United States. This is not something that is decided by the U.S. President but by the strategic judgment of the U.S. decision-making class on the direction of its relations with China. This strategic positioning destined that the future U.S.-China relations will be based on the pattern dominated by geopolitical confrontation. Biden sees that by expanding global influence, promoting its political model, and investing in future technologies, China is engaging a long-term competition with the U.S, and that is the challenge that the United States faces.

On the whole, if and when Biden takes office, the U.S. government’s domestic and diplomatic practices will be different from those of the Trump administration, although the strategic positioning of China will not change, and neither will it change the U.S.’ general direction of long-term suppression of China’s rise. However, in terms of specific practices, the Biden administration will have its own approaches, and will seek a certain order and geopolitical discipline to implement its policies. He may also seek to reach some bottom-line principled arrangements with China. Under the basic framework, the future U.S.-China relations will undergo changes in many aspects. Instead of the crude “an eye for an eye” rivalry, we will see the return to the traditional systemic competition based on values, alliance interests, and rules. Facing the inevitable changes in U.S.-China relations, the world needs to adapt to the new situation.

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