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How Does the George Floyd Incident Play into U.S. Election?

Chan Kung

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Authors: Chan Kung  and Yu(Tony) Pan*

As one of the earliest organizations in China to conduct continuous tracking studies on the 2020 U.S. election, ANBOUND had previously published its findings to the world through various means from time to time. Back then, our overall findings showed that Trump administration’s policies are unnecessarily hindering his odds of being re-elected. Meanwhile, Joe Biden who has unified the different factions within the Democratic Party, shows a more favorable outcome. However, the George Floyd incident has visibly impacted the prospects of U.S. elections and ANBOUND’s international relations researchers believe that the following points demand the attention of all concerned analysts:

First of all, the Trump administration has once again demonstrated a populist leader’s incompetency in responding to the killing of George Floyd. While these poor responses were already present during the administration’s attempts in handling the Covid-19 pandemic, the Trump administration had deflected the people’s blame towards him by faulting China and the World Health Organization. With the George Floyd incident however, the blame game no longer works. More importantly, due to his inability to govern the country successfully and the need to satisfy his primary group of voters, Trump has landed himself on the short end of the protesting crowd. For the past two weeks, Trump could have maintained a neutral stance while delivering a speech, like any experienced politician would concerning the incident. He could temporarily give in to the public opinions to prevent further mishaps, even garner himself some black voters from Biden’s group of supporters by doing so. Instead, Trump nearly made the situation worse by accusing the governors of being “jerks“, by setting up a heavy wrought-iron fence along the White House, and cowardly hid away from the protesters while dispersing peaceful demonstrators through violent means. All these caused the incident to intensify even more and become harder to resolve. Therefore, Trump is going to lose the black voters in the 2020 election, something that even the White House is acutely aware of. On June 8, a White House spokesperson expressed that the president was shocked by the incident and would introduce relevant measures to solve the problem of racial discrimination in the country, though it was a little too late. In a way, this speaks of the pressure the White House is facing.

Second, the Trump administration’s response has further triggered a split within the Republican Party. Similarly on June 8, Colin Powell, perhaps one of the most famous Republicans in the past two decades, who was also once known as a typical “American Dream” success story, publicly expressed his support for Biden. As the first African-American in American history to serve as the Secretary of State, and also the first to hold key positions in several Republican government, Powell’s public support for Biden has no doubt showed things have shifted. He accused Trump of being a liar and a threat to the American democracy. Aside from Powell, Trump’s two senior government officials. former Secretary of Defense James Mattis and former White House chief of staff John Kelly expressed similar views too. John Bolton, who failed to appear in the impeachment deposition, also publicly stated recently that regardless the White House allows it or not, he will publish his new book in June (which may contain direct evidence sufficient to convict Trump on the Russian Gate issue). Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers who had strongly supported Trump in the past no longer comment as much in interviews with the media. On top of that, several Republican candidates have already lost the election due to their close ties with Trump. With the populist trend since the “Tea Party Movement”, Trump has transformed the old Republican Party that advocated elitism in the past into the “Trump Party”. Yet, the pro-establishment faction in the Republican Party remains defiant, and their resistance may further hinder Trump from achieving his re-election goals. From another perspective however, this crisis may just be the “last straw” to crush the Republican Party. For the Republican Party, if the situation deteriorates further, it will have to face the dilemma of choosing to fight alongside Trump and sink, or completely give up the 2020 presidential election but preserve its influence over the next few years.

Third, Biden has benefitted from the George Floyd incident. The consensus on Biden is that he heavily stresses on stability, and can sometimes come off dull because of that. But his view isn’t far-fetched, seeing that during the impeachment case, the most striking figures of the Democratic Party were undoubtedly members of Congress like Nancy Pelosi or Adam Schiff. As a matter of fact, during the Covid-19 outbreak, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo became Democratic Party’s national spokesperson. For Biden, he capitalized on the incident, after realizing the political power the protest demonstrations hold. While Trump was hiding away in the White House, Biden appeared amongst the protesters and made hay while the sun shone, by putting himself out there with the black voters. It was reported that Biden had also intended to attend Floyd’s funeral in Houston. However, since Floyd’s family did not want Secret Service personnel showing up on the premise, Biden appeared on video instead. According to the latest polls, Biden’s national support rate has reached 55%, leading Trump by 14%. In comparison, Hillary Clinton’s national poll in 2016 had never exceeded 50%. Additionally, 88% of black people did not support Trump, with 84% believing that the recent protests were “justified”. Meanwhile, 65% disagreed with the Trump administration’s response. All things considered, it wasn’t surprising to see Trump’s support fall to 38%. As a whole, while people might find Biden’s campaign strategy somewhat conventional and boring, Biden has nonetheless proved that he is still a very much experienced politician. If Biden finally wins the election in 2020, then his series of operations in the “George Floyd incident” will become one of the key factors that contributed to his election.

Fourth, the impact of George Floyd’s incident on the 2020 U.S. election isn’t over. Presently, the protests are still continuing and they are getting larger, in fact there are also fewer violence taking place. What more, the protests have gone global. Similar protests, mostly peaceful ones, have sprouted in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Japan, France, Spain, Poland and even Kenya. In the United States, more people are beginning to realize the systemic problems behind the George Floyd incident, that is the reform in the U.S. judicial system and the systematic racial discrimination in the U.S. law enforcement team. In other words, the incident is heading in the direction of “anti-war protests” from the 1960s. The entire movement has yet to peak, and it may even continue until this year’s general elections take place. And this time around, this particular social movement will have a lasting impact on the entire American political arena and society.

To sum up the impact of the George Floyd incident on U.S. election, ANBOUND believes Trump’s odds in the election is becoming more unfavorable. The President himself seems to be betting his hopes on what he calls a “silent majority.” While ANBOUND’s observation shows that such groups do exist, their population within the American society is questioned, as with their extent of overlapping with Trump’s primary group of voters. For Trump, the answer to that doesn’t seem favorable either. ANBOUND has always believed that the centrists, or those lack a clear political stance will directly affect the outcome of the 2020 U.S. Both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party have their group of dedicated supporters, it is the political stance of the centrists that will be swayed following the social movements and it will determine how the political game pans out. Now, the only thing that Trump can fall back on is “economic factor”. And again, a normal economic rebound is not something the Democratic Party will simply allow Trump to claim credit for.

Final analysis conclusion:

The “George Flyod incident” is changing the landscape of the U.S. election, and it does not look likely that Trump will be triumphant this time around.

*Mr. Yu(Tony) Pan serves as the associate research fellow and the research assistantof Mr. Chen Gong, Founder, Chairman, and the Chief Researcher of ANBOUND. He obtained his master’s degree at George Washington University, the ElliottSchool of International Affairs; and his bachelor’s degree in University ofInternational Business and Economics in Beijing. Mr. Pan has published pieces invarious platform domestically and internationally. He currently focuses onAsian Security, geopolitics in Indo-Pacific region and the U.S.-Sino Relations.

Founder of Anbound Think Tank in 1993, Chan Kung is now ANBOUND Chief Researcher. Chan Kung is one of China’s renowned experts in information analysis. Most of Chan Kung‘s outstanding academic research activities are in economic information analysis, particularly in the area of public policy.

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In Praise of the Lioness of Law: Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her Jurisprudence

Punsara Amarasinghe

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image credit: Wikipedia

The death of the US Supreme Court Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg has created an abyss in the court for the liberal voice where justice Ginsburg was seen as the linchpin of the liberal block of the Supreme Court at a time when that block was shrinking. Especially late judge had vociferously advocated for women ‘rights, environmental issues and often came up with unique dissents in delivering her judgements which were propelled by her jurisprudence which embodied the solemn ideal in American legal system “Equal Protection under the Law “. She was on a quest to defend the delicate balance between honoring the timelessness of American Constitution and recognizing the depth of its enduring principles in new centuries and under new circumstances.

She grew up in an era where men held the helm in every aspect of social life and especially the legal profession was utterly dominated by men. Recalling her legal studies at Harvard law school in the 50’s judge Ginsburg had stated later how she was once asked by the Dean of Harvard law school to justify her position as a law student that otherwise would have gone to a man. Yet she had the spunk to overcome all the obstacles stood on her way and excelled as a scholar becoming the first female member of the Harvard Law Review.

In tracing her legal career that it becomes a salient fact, Judge Ginsburg marked her name in American legal history even decades before she joined the bench. While at the American Civil Liberties Union in the early seventies she made an upheaval in American in legal system in famous Supreme Court Case Reed Vs Reed. In Reed Vs Reed the brief drafted by Ginsburg provided an astute analysis on the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution, the Equal Protection Clause. Ginsburg’s brief changed the aged long practice existed in the State of Idaho on favoring men over women in estate battles by paving the path for a discourse on gender equality rights in the USA.

Judge Ginsburg’s appointment to the Supreme Court in 1994 during Clinton administration marked the dawn of new jurisprudential chapter in the US Supreme Court. Two terms later, in the United States v. Virginia (VMI), Justice Ginsburg applied her lucid perspective to a sharply disputed constitutional claim. The United States challenged Virginia’s practice of admitting only men to its prestigious military college, the Virginia Military Institute. Writing for six Justices, Ginsburg held this policy unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause. In reaching this result, Ginsburg adroitly cut away potentially confounding issues about women’s participation in the military or the advantages of single-sex education.

Her robust activism in securing gender equality often attracted the admirations of the feminist scholars and activists, but it should be noted that her contribution was not only confined to the protection of gender equality. She was a robust critique of racial dissemination which still pervades in American society and she frequently pointed out how racial discrimination has marred the constitutional protections guaranteed to every citizen. Especially in the case of Gratz Vs Bollitnger, she stressed on the commitment that the state ought to fulfil by eliminating the racial biases existing employment and education. Moreover, disabled citizens. In Olmstead v. Zimring, she held that “unjustified institutional isolation of persons with disabilities is a form of discrimination” violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.45 She elaborated a two-fold concept of discrimination, noting that unneeded institutionalization both “perpetuates unwarranted assumptions that persons so isolated are incapable or unworthy of participating in community life”.

In remembering the mortal departure of this prudent judge that one cannot forget her keenness in incorporating international law into her judgements regardless of the disinclination shown by conservative judges like Antony Scalia. Going beyond the mere textualism approach to the law, Ginsburg’s jurisprudence was much more akin to using international law to make substantive decisions. For instance, in her concurring verdict in Grutter Vs Bollinger, Justice Ginsburg relied upon international human rights law, and in particular upon two United Nations conventions, to support her conclusions.

Indeed, the demise of Ruth Ginsburg is a major blow for the liberalists in the USA, especially in an era where liberalist values are at stake under the fervent rise of populist waves propounded by Donald Trump. Especially late judge had been one of the harsh critics of Trump even before ascendency to the Oval office. The void created by the demise of judge Ginsburg might change the role the US Supreme Court if the successor to her position would take a more conservative approach and it will fortify the conservative bloc in the US Supreme Court. Trump has already placed Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh and the third pick would more deeply entrench the conservative views in the US Supreme Court, which would inevitably undermine the progressive policies taken during Obama’s administration towards issues such as the environment. The political storm appeared after the death of the late judge has already created a tense situation in US politics as president Trump is determined to appoint a judge to fill before the presidential election in November.

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The Politics of (In)security in Mexico: Between Narcissism and Political Failure

Lisdey Espinoza Pedraza

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Image credit: Wikimedia

Security cannot be that easily separated from the political realm. The need for security is the prime reason why people come together to collectively form a state. Providing security is, therefore, one of the most basic functions of the state as a political and collective entity.

Last Friday, the Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) laughed during his daily morning press briefings over a national newspaper headline about 45 massacres during his presidency. This attitude summarises in a macabre way his approach to insecurity: it is not his top priority. This is not the first time that AMLO has showed some serious and deeply disturbing lack of empathy for victims of crimes. Before taking office, he knew that insecurity was one of Mexico’s biggest challenges, and he has come to realise that curbing it down will not be as simple as he predicted during his presidential campaign.

Since the start of the War on Drugs in 2006, Mexico has sunk into a deep and ever-growing spiral of violence and vigilantism as a result of the erosion of the capacity of the state to provide safety to citizens. Vigilantism is when citizens decide to take the law into their own hands in order to fill the vacuum left by the state, or to pursue their own very particular interests. Guerrero, Michoacán, Morelos, Tabasco, Tamaulipas and Veracruz have over 50 vigilante organisations that pose substantial danger to the power of the state.

Vigilantism is not the only factor exacerbating the security crisis in Mexico: since 2006, young people have also started to join drug cartels and other criminal organisations. There are important sectors of the population who feel that the state has failed to represent them. They also feel betrayed because the state has not been able to provide them with the necessary means to better themselves. These frustrations make them vulnerable to the indoctrination of organised crime gangs who promise to give them some sort of ideological direction and solution to their problems.

As a result, it is not enough to carry out a kingpin arrest strategy and to preach on the moral duties we have as citizens as well as on human dignity. People need to be given enough means to find alternative livelihoods that are attractive enough to take them out of organised crime, Mexico can draw some important lessons from Sierra Leone who successfully demobilised and resettled ex-combatants after the armed conflict. Vigilantism, recruitment by organised crime, and insecurity have also flourished because of a lack of deterrence. The judicial system is weak and highly ineffective. A large proportion of the population does not trust the police, or the institutions in charge of the rule of law.

A long-term strategy requires linking security with politics. It needs to address not only the consequences but also the roots of unemployment and deep inequality. However, doing so requires decisive actions to root out widespread and vicious corruption. Corruption allows concentration of wealth and also prevents people from being held accountable. This perpetuates the circle of insecurity. Mexico has been slowly moving towards a borderline failed state. The current government is starting to lose legitimacy and the fragility of the state is further perpetuated by the undemocratic, and predatory governance of the current administration.

Creating a safer Mexico requires a strong, coherent, and stable leadership, AMLO’s administration is far from it. His popularity has consistently fallen as a result of his ineffective policies to tackle the pandemic, worsening insecurity, and the economic crisis. Mexico has reached over 72,000 Covid-19 deaths; during his initial 20 months as incumbent president, there has been 53,628 murders, among them 1800 children or teenagers, and 5888 women (11 women killed per day) This criminality rate is double than what it was during the same period in the presidency of Felipe Calderón (2006-2012); and 55% higher than with the last president, Enrique Peña Nieto (2012-2018). Mexico is also experiencing its worst economic recession in 90 years.

Insecurity remains as the issue of most concern among Mexicans, seeing the president laughing about it, can only fill citizens with yet more despair and lack of trusts in the government and its institutions. AMLO’s catastrophic performance is not surprising, though. Much of his failures and shortcomings can be explained by both ideology and a narcissistic personality. Having someone with both of those traits ruling a country under normal, peaceful times is already dangerous enough, add an economic crisis and a pandemic to the mix and the result is utter chaos.

AMLO embodies the prototypical narcissist: he has a grandiose self-image; an inflated ego; a constant need for admiration; and intolerance to criticism. He, like many other narcissists, thinks about himself too much and too often, making him incapable of considering the wellbeing of other and unable to pursue the public interest. He has a scapegoat ready to blame for his failures and mistakes: previous administrations, conservatives, neoliberalism, academics, writers, intellectuals, reporters, scientists, you name it, the list is long and keeps getting longer.

AMLO keeps contradicting himself and he does not realise it. He has been claiming for months that the pandemic is under control: it is not. He declares Mexico is ready to face the pandemic and we have enough tests and medical equipment: we do not. He says Mexico is on its way to economic recovery: it is not. He states corruption is a thing of the past: it is not. He says Mexico is now safer than ever before: it is not. When told the opposite he shrugs criticism off and laughs, the behaviour of a typical narcissist.

AMLO, alike narcissists, due to his inability to face criticism, has never cared about surrounding himself by the best and brightest. He chose a bunch of flunkies as members of his cabinet who try to please and not humiliate their leader. A further trait of narcissistic personalities is that they love conflict and division as this keeps them under control. The more destabilisation and antagonism, the better. AMLO since the start of his presidency has been setting states against states for resources and for pandemic responses, instead of coordinating a national response. He is also vindictive: playing favourites with those governors who follow him and punishing those that oppose him.

Deep down, narcissistic leaders are weak. AMLO is genuinely afraid to lead. He simply cannot bring himself to make decisions that are solely his. This is why he has relied on public referendums and consultations to cancel projects or advance legislation. He will not take any responsibility if something goes wrong: It was not him who decided, it was the people, blame them. He inherited a broken system that cannot be fixed during his term, blame the previous administrations, not him.

AMLO is a prime example of a textbook narcissist, unfortunately he is not the only one: Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, Recep Erdogan, Rodrigo Duterte are only a few more examples of what seems to be a normalised behaviour in contemporary politics. Every aspect of AMLO’s and other leaders presidencies have been heavily marked by their psychopathology. Narcissism, however, does not allow proper and realistic self-assessment, self-criticism, and self-appreciation therefore such leaders will simply ignore the red flags in their administration and have no clue how despicably and disgracefully they will be remembered.

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Minor Successes And The Coronavirus Disaster: Is Trump A Dead Duck?

Dr. Arshad M. Khan

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That reminder from the Bible, ‘He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone’ may give us pause — but not journalists who by all appearances assume exemption.  And the stones certainly bruise.

Evidence for the bruises lies in the latest poll numbers.  Overall, Joe Biden leads Donald Trump 50 to 43 percent, a margin that has continued to increase since January.  It is also considerably wider than the few points lead Hillary Clinton had over Trump four years ago.  It gets worse for Trump. 

In the industrial states of Michigan and Pennsylvania, which Trump in 2016 won by razor thin margins, he is losing by over 4 percent.  Also key to his victory was Wisconsin where, despite his success in getting dairy products into Canada, he is behind by a substantial 7 percent.  Key states Ohio and Florida are also going for the Democrats.

Trump was not doing so badly until the coronavirus struck and during the course of his news conferences he displayed an uncaring persona larded with incompetence.  Dr. Anthony Fauci, the man he fired for correcting Trumpian exaggerations became a hero and Trump the bully.

If that bullying nature won him small rewards with allies, he hit an impasse with China and Iran … while bringing the two closer to each other.  Then there is the border wall, a sore point for our southern neighbor Mexico.  President Lopez Obrador made sure the subject never came up at the July meeting with Trump,   Thus Mexico is not paying for it so far and will not be in the foreseeable future.

The United Arab Emirates, a conglomeration of what used to be the Trucial States under British hegemony. have agreed to formalize its already fairly close relations with Israel.  In return, Israel has postponed plans to annex the West Bank.  Whether or not it is in Israel’s long term interest to do so is a debatable question because it provides much more powerful ammunition to its critics who already accuse it of becoming an apartheid regime.  However, it had become Prime Minister Netanyahu’s sop to the right wing who will have to wait.  Of course, the reality is that Israel is already the de facto ruler.

If Mr. Trump was crowing about the agreement signed on September 15, although it is akin to someone signing an agreement with Puerto Rico while the United States remains aloof.  As a postscript, the little island of Bahrain also signed a peace deal with Israel.  Bahrain has had its own problems in that a Sunni sheikh rules a Shia populace.  When the Shia had had enough, Saudi and UAE troops were used to end the rebellion.  Bahrain is thus indebted to the UAE.

How many among voters will know the real value of these historic (according to Trump) deals particularly when he starts twittering his accomplishments as the election nears?

There things stand.  As they say, there is nothing worse than peaking too early.  Bettors are still favoring Trump with their money.  The longer anyone has been in politics the more there is to mine, and for an opponent to use to his/her advantage.  Time it seems is on Trump’s side.  

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