Saturday, December 3, 2022

US Elections: The Last Weekend

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By Kenneth Tiven in USA

Friday night was the Halloween holiday in the USA but the sounds of costumed children asking “trick or treat” for candy treats from neighbours was rare because of the pandemic concerns of most parents. Candidates seeking the last remaining votes were more voluble than usual with some campaign statements closer to trick than truth. President Donald Trump has a well-documented disregard for truth when he speaks, especially at campaign rallies. Nevertheless, it was shocking at a Michigan event when he said, “Our doctors get more money if someone dies from Covid,” and so “when in doubt choose Covid.”  He was suggesting that this explained the Covid-19 statistics. “Our doctors are smart people, so what they do is say ‘I’m sorry but, you know, everybody dies of Covid,’” Trump continued, asserting that each coronavirus death was worth “like $2,000 more” without providing further details.

It was an incredulous statement, except, for the Republican candidate, it fits neatly into his claim of victory over the pandemic. It comes on the same day that the infection rate exceeded 9 million confirmed cases of Covid-19, just two weeks after it surpassed the 8-million mark. The virus continues to spread throughout much of the country and while the percentage of deaths is down, the surge in cases means it still runs close to 10,000 fatalities a day.

The head of the American Medical Association denounced attacks on the motivations of health care workers during the pandemic as “malicious, outrageous and completely misguided,” but somehow forgot to actually name the president in its media release. Democratic nominee Joe Biden reacted with disbelief, telling his rally, “Doctors and nurses go to work every day to save lives. They do their jobs. Donald Trump should stop attacking them and do his job.”

While Trump claims great faith in the American stock markets to define his economic success, the market indexes, especially the Big Tech stocks, are sagging indicating investment funds have lost confidence in Trump’s re-election.

Astonishing increases in early voting and mail-in voting are being interpreted as favouring Democrats. In Texas, where Biden might have a slight edge in the polling, more than 9 million Texans have voted early, exceeding its total of all voters in 2016. For a Red state turning Blue horrifies the GOP, which did obvious things to limit mail-in balloting. The Republican governor mandated just one ballot drop box per county. Now, Texas has 254 counties and while some have more cattle than people, Harris County is the Houston Metro with 4 million plus people in an area larger than America’s smallest state. You would be correct in assuming that the majority of Texas judges are elected based not on their legal qualifications but rather on the performance of their political party. More than150,000 Indian-Americans reside in Houston. For example, Indian professionals came to work at the large Texas Medical Center while engineers joined NASA’s Johnson Space Center and high tech firms located there.

A year ago, Trump seemed destined for a probable second term. The pandemic has become the defining issue for many people, with any sense of economic success from Trump offset by the hardships of nine months of truncated living and working. Trump not only defends his Administration’s medical efforts, he claims a victory in keeping the death toll to “only” about 230,000 people.

Former Vice President Joe Biden has staked his campaign for the top job on the pandemic issue, saying you have to solve the medical issue first to restore the economy. Biden wants the election to be a referendum on Trump’s leadership and behaviour.

Republican-leaning media have started speculating on what Trump will do after he loses. Other more strident right-wing media disregard Trump and only report negatively about Democrats.

Republicans inexplicably couldn’t agree with the political opposition on a second financial stimulus to help American families, which seemed a natural political response a few months before an election. Remember, Trump broke protocol forcing the Treasury to put his name on each check sent out.

“Next year will be their greatest economic year in the history of our country,” Trump told voters in Wisconsin if he’s re-elected. He’s trailing there in polls by double digits. Picking the other guy would mean, he said, “Joe Biden’s plan would delay the vaccine, postpone therapies, crash the economy and lock down the entire country.”

Trump’s most ardent supporters believe him. Why else would they attend large rallies without masks or social distancing, even in states imposing restrictions on mass gatherings? Biden has emphasised social distancing with drive-in events where people honk from their cars to register approval instead of cheering. America has lots of mostly empty mall parking lots available this month.

Nationally, as of Friday morning, more than 83 million votes had been cast, representing more than 60 percent of the total ballots cast four years ago, according to the nonpartisan U.S. Elections Project.

As far back as the Reagan era of the 1980s, Republicans adopted a legal strategy based on a network of lawyers to suppress the vote by racial and ethnic minorities. The GOP assumed certain categories of citizens would most likely vote for the Democratic Party. Initially they pushed voter ID laws, and this election they seek active help from the Department of Justice and the federal judiciary to make voting as difficult as possible.

Their task ahead is likely to focus on trying to disqualify as many votes, especially mail-in ballots, as possible. This is, thankfully, more difficult than in some nations where a national election commission can simply fiddle the vote totals to keep the “Boss” in power.

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