RIGHT-WING POPULISM & GOLDEN BOY SKEPTICISM – A Revisit to the most astounding election of World’s Oldest Democracy
This year’s U.S. presidential election came dangerously close to being the worst political nightmare with Trump’s elusive demagoguery language declaring his victory before the actual results and the counting of ballots at a snail’s pace that subtly showcased the withering foundation of right-wing populism.
However, this Election was not a cakewalk for political pundits, distinct media houses, and many other bunters who prognosticated the presidency in Biden’s favor.
Glancing back at the 2016 presidential election, the very ‘populist havoc’ which led to Trump’s victory was the true example of an iconoclastic, anti-establishment type of politics and no less than “Populist Cataclysm“
Undoubtedly, Trump’s tenure had been excruciating and seen inflammatory happenings, with people protesting for Climate Change Crisis, Black Lives and the massive outbreak of COVID-19, which happened to be the populist’s nightmare, and therefore, strengthened the support for establishment leaders, and reinforced the demand for a just society.
Foreseeably, the 2020 presidential election presented the opportunity for an anti-populist correction. It paved the way for Americans to turn out against Trumpism and in favor of a seemingly more tolerant form of governance, led by Joe Biden.
But, as history remains the evidence, most Americans, once again did not fail to prove that theirs is a deep hypocrite and divided country where Trumpism aligned with Populism –for all of its false agreements and failures, remains a durable pull. Blatant incompetence, racism, climate change denial, Islamophobia, rampant corruption, and tax frauds, is no barrier to his popularity. Therefore, even after four years of demagoguery and deceit in the form of contempt for minorities, women, and the rule of law; the legion of electorates still voted for Trump magnanimously.
Though Joe Biden is the proposed president with a record-breaking victory, American Populism didn’t leave yet. Presidential elections are monumentally important and this proficient competitiveness of the presidential race suggests that Trump’s strategy wasn’t a total failure and challenged the conventional accepted belief that populism is nine days wonder and those populists, once in power, are necessarily exposed by their inability to govern. Apparently, narrow victories are consequential than large ones, and if anything which is out rightly proved in this election is that the populists can still behave as political outsiders representing the “common people” against the elite, even if they are irrefutably a part of that elite. Evidently, the number of votes tumbling from the ballot boxes showcased that Mr. Trump represents the new normality.
In the eighteenth century, when the Patriots ratified the bill of civil rights and decided that sovereignty would lie with the people of the nation, not in any single person or institution, they aspired to achieve ideal democracy. American war of Independence has inspired numerous revolutions around the world, more so because America has played a progressive role in the endorsement of democratic and equalitarian principles. But today’s state of American politics is unfortunate. The image of America, as it was in the eyes of the rest of the world, is no more the same. Instead of discharging its duties as a lighthouse, America seemed to be obsessed with itself, with ideological hypocrisy and internal division. This is not a very promising situation for aspiring democracies for the image is blurring.
BIDEN – EMBROCATING THE DIVISION
Joe Biden will now be the 46th elected president. He has been elected for his decency and for ensuring that the USA stays within the ambit of the free world.
If not curing all evils but inferring from his agenda, one can expect him to make some effort to embrocate the division. Though, his capability to go far in current circumstances remains to be seen.
However, expecting Biden as the panacea for the US and the world will be a blunder. But that does not mean that there is no chance for America to ameliorate but that will require a refreshed institutional role and a reinvention of joint action. Since Biden’s administration will not simply be able to retake its seat at the global table and expect that it can just restart the global engines. No. That’s not how straight and optimistic it is.
The election tussle in fact was not very positive. The motto “settle for Biden” which swirled on social media, proved the negative approach for electorates. For progressive Americans who care deeply about equity and equality and are completely aware of Biden’s harmful rhetoric and actions in the past, this election proved to be harrowing. It was a dilemmatic approach in the guise of not choosing Biden but more for not voting for Trump. Not to brush off, that this compulsion to prefer bad over worse has subconsciously obliterated the essence of Democracy.
Mr. Biden is not a progressive Golden Boy, as he is being projected or as he claims himself of being one, in his book, Promises to Keep: On Life and Politics, “it was more about doing things than being good”.
Tracing back to his intolerance and conservatism, Joe Biden worried in 1977 that certain de-segregation policies would cause his children to grow up ‘in a racial jungle’ and he wrote the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act that disproportionately harmed people of color and which led to the state of mass incarceration we now live in. He’s also been accused of sexual misconduct, and even didn’t hesitate to insult the heritage of mixed-race Americans, with his stereotyped comments in 2008 about Indian-Americans: “You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent.”
Joe Biden’s evolution of LGBT+ rights has also been controversial. Biden was staunchly opposed to gay rights, and in his very first year as a senator, he declared that gay people should not receive security clearances because they would be a “security risk”. It took a while for Biden to do away with his conservative ideology, and it was not until late in his political career that he shifted in favor of LGBT+ rights. But a glance at his personality does not make him progressive and peace-loving.
To conclude, this year’s presidential race was a choice between the lesser of two evils: Joe Biden and his past or Donald Trump and his present and the Americans have elected the best “not Trump” possible. It was an uncomfortable choice.
Osama Shaikh (Yildirim Beyazit University, Turkey)
Huzaifa Shaikh (Lucknow University, Lucknow)