2020: An Election About Political Philosophies
Contributor: Dennis Richardson
WASHINGTON, DC (July 31) --- As we race toward the Fall Presidential Election, what’s becoming increasingly obvious is that radical differences between the two party’s presumptive candidates exist and are widening.
While some Democrats would paint President Trump as a fascist and the root of all things evil in the world today, it’s safe to say the majority of Americans don’t like the job he’s doing. After all, as of this writing Trump is running at a steady 38% overall approval rating.
Still, it’s almost 100 days until the election, and anything can happen before Nov. 3rd.
Republicans are now saying Democratic Nominee Joe Biden has “dementia” and will “plunge the country back into the mess we had with Obama.” They’re also saying Biden will raise taxes, drive hard to secure a new voting rights act, destroy our healthcare system and push the nation further into debt with needless social programs.
As always, there are kernels of truth and misinformation in these two positions. But what is certain is that with millions of Americans sheltered at home due to Covid-19, advertising and internet messaging will probably take on an ever more predominant role as we get closer to November.
Expect the two campaigns’ spin machines to begin pounding voters with ads, promos and talking head surrogates in the ensuing months, striking a chord to support their candidates. In effect, selling their own political philosophies to voters, rapidly, consistently and with great and increasing volume.
While media advertising across the board has been down radically in the last five months, some pundits are still predicting that a huge surge in last-minute ads will clog the airwaves soon. And with that, fund-raising efforts at all levels of the political scale will ramp up. If you haven’t gotten a phone call or email soliciting your help and financial support for your party’s nominee by now, count yourself lucky. It’s not unusual in my house for up to 20 such messages a week to hit our various Internet accounts.
Also, here in our nation’s capital, now that most Republican House and Senate candidates have secured their party’s nomination for re-election through the primary process, many have begun to shy away from Trump, whose polling data continues to suffer as the Covid death rate surges upward. Many Republicans are distancing themselves from the president, who at the moment, seems unable to find a popular position on many issues. In effect, he seems to be drifting, trying to regain his momentum prior to the Covid contagion and the downdraft in the US economy.
What this election is becoming, rather plainly, is a referendum on a multitude of political positions that together can equate to a certain philosophy of how a voter wants the country to move in the next four years.
For instance: A woman’s right to choose; Medicare for all; a shift to the left for future judges. Who will replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who announced she is suffering with cancer? And what will be the implications on US Foreign policy under Biden? Will we take a harder line with China? Will we further withdraw troops from the Middle East? Will North Korea continue to be perceived as an existential threat?
Trump’s announcement to withdraw troops from Germany, even as rumors of Nazi sympathizers gaining political momentum there as detailed in the press, are concerning to many foreign policy experts. Right Wing Nazi supporters -- according to a report in The New York Times two Sunday ago -- now count as the third largest political party in Germany, and their ranks are growing.
The growing stature and momentum of China is clearly coming into focus. As many Americans pray for unemployment insurance extensions, it’s safe to say that manufacturing jobs will remain a key component in our election politics. And how American unions stand in these elections will also be critical. At a time when employers continue to utilize 1099 status for many employees, real questions about worker rights in our current climate are becoming more critical. Add in the ZOOM philosophy of working from home rather than in an office, and the workplace takes on an entirely new meaning. Think you have problems? How’d you like to be in the commercial real estate business right now?
With questions about Federal authorities going into cities like Portland, Chicago and St. Louis to quell rioting and social movement demonstrations, deep questions about freedom of speech and assembly haven’t been this out front since the 1960s. A lot of folks, from mayors to governors, are asking hard questions about Federalizing troops to quell unrest.
Calling an American president a fascist would seem incredible, even five years ago, but yet, that’s exactly what Trump has been called by pundits and political foes alike. And his continued tactic of publicly refusing to disagree with Russian president Putin is also puzzling and disconcerting to many voters. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been using the term Dictator to describe Mr. Trump. “He’s a self-imagined despot with a bunch of cronies and henchmen who surround him,” she told Chris Hayes on MSNBC. “And why he’d choose to listen to Putin over his own intelligence gathering agencies is a mystery to me.”
As Biden moves toward (finally!) selecting a vice presidential running mate, obvious questions about his age (at 78 he’d be the oldest man ever elected President) and stamina make the veep selection that much more poignant.
Which in a way is another sign of the philosophical and practical matters being addressed in this election. Will a woman of color run for president as the incumbent vice president in four years, or will Biden, at 82, run for a second term? And if she does run in four years, will it be against Pence, or a resurgent Trump?
As Black Lives Matter and social justice issues are becoming not just a fad, but truly taking root in American discourse, will we begin to finally turn America toward equality for all under the law? Will all Americans, regardless of their race, creed or religion, have equal coverage in all aspects of our society?
Or will we continue to support a conservative position of further cuts in taxes, more Federalist-style judges and extending voter gerrymandering and limiting immigration rights?
Will voters opt for a more socially inclusive, centrist government, or a further expansion of extreme conservative thinking, including extensions of states rights and a further reduction of Federal power?
Perhaps not since the election of Franklin Roosevelt in 1932, has the choice in an election seemed so clear cut, or as important.
These are the core questions Americans are asking themselves.
These are the core campaign elements that will be debated as we move toward November.
And these are the core issues that our country needs to address if it wants to maintain its standards of democracy and freedom.
Whatever your views, one thing is certain: whatever the outcome in November, we will not remain inert. We shall continue to evolve the great experiment of our constitutional republic.
More so than in a very long time, this election’s outcome is becoming increasingly important. And no matter your philosophy, we won’t have to wait too much longer to see what will happen on November 3rd.
Dennis Richardson is a writer/editor with Words Matter. He has an extensive background as a reporter, copy editor, sportswriter, sports copy editor, and Senior Special Sections Writer with newspapers in Missouri and Florida. He lives outside of Orlando, FL.
Photo Credit: Photo from White House.gov.