Editorial: Yet Again It Is Biden Versus Trump

Editorial: Yet Again It Is Biden Versus Trump

FPJ EditorialUpdated: Sunday, March 10, 2024, 09:56 PM IST
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US President Joe Biden and challenger Donald Trump | File Photo/AFP

By all accounts, US President Joe Biden is set to square off yet again with Donald Trump. The outcome of the Super Tuesday primaries of both Democrats and Republicans threw up no surprises. Both firmed up their grip on the respective nominations for the presidential poll in November. That both do not excite the discerning voters is a poorly kept secret of the current highly polarised US polity. It is a listless contest, livened only by the over-the-top self-praise by Trump and Biden’s age-related gaffes. You can even feel sorry for the educated American voters. But such voters have little choice in these matters. The two-party system works like a machine, giving advantage to the entrenched interests. Politicians allied with various corporate interests have a greater advantage in raising campaign funds and winning primaries. It was thus that poorly- funded Indian-origin Nikki Haley, a former state Governor and Trump’s ambassador to the UN, had to opt out after she managed a wafer-thin victory in just one state, polling in all 89 votes to Trump’s 1542. The winning delegate number for clinching nomination is 1968. Haley’s brave effort showed that there is a vast constituency among the educated, city and suburban voters which shares with the hardcore Democrat voters a deep aversion for the Walter Mitty-like Trump. But it is a peculiarity of the American electoral system that it privileges the self-obsessed populist pandering to the basest instincts of the voters. Having once seized control of the White House for four years on the anti-immigrant nativist platform, and an inward-looking foreign policy, including a protectionist economic agenda, Trump is hammering home the same bugbears to win a second term. Of course, Biden’s age is a factor even with Democrat voters, though at 77 Trump himself is no spring chicken, either. Yet Biden’s memory lapses spotlight his 81 years far more than Trump’s 77. As a veteran politician, Biden tends to often go off the script and thus involuntarily commits verbal faux pas. Also, he is judged more harshly in these matters while for Trump even his supporters have set a low bar. Though lot of things are going right for Biden his age is the biggest factor against him.

Lately, a large number of Democratic voters are also upset with Biden for his perceived pro-Israel bias in the ongoing war in Gaza. A large percentage of Democratic voters in primaries voted “uncommitted” in protest against Biden’s Israel policy. A substantial number of Muslim-Americans listed their anger, voting “uncommitted” in the Minnesota and North Carolina. Aware of the growing anger against his Israel policy, Biden has been pressing Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to agree to a ceasefire but the hard-line leader seems determined to have his way. In spite of his knowing that without the US arms Israel cannot pursue the war, he presses on unconcerned. As a result, hapless Palestinians are trapped, hungry and shelter-less, between Netanyahu’s unremitting war machine and Hamas which shows scant respect for the lives of ordinary Palestinians. Muslims in America and elsewhere in the West cannot stop protesting, often violently, against Biden’s perceived pro-Israel stance. It is remarkable that a good number of Whites join these protests, though it is rare for Muslims anywhere to protest the gruesome excesses of their own jihadi groups. Anyway, if Gaza keeps on the boil even as the November poll nears, Biden is bound to suffer a backlash while Trump, though no different from Biden in this case, would benefit by default.

Meanwhile, Biden in his latest State of the Union address to Congress bolstered his case for re-election. In an uncharacteristically aggressive speech he enumerated the positives of his administration. The economy was on a roll, joblessness was at a historic low, share markets were booming, inflation was in check, etc. He hit Trump hard for his pro-Putin, anti-NATO stance, saying that support to Ukraine was vital for safeguarding wider US and European interests. Yet, the buffoonish Trump, according to opinion polls, continues to be ahead of Biden. This is despite his being embroiled in at least six different criminal and civil cases, the strongest among them being the January 6 attack on the Capitol Hill by Trump’s rag-tag supporters in a bid to undo the outcome of the November 2020 presidential poll. The Trump- packed US Supreme Court did itself no good by helping Trump get over the legal bar on anyone involved in overthrowing the democratic system. Which by all accounts Trump was doing but it wasn’t clear to the judges in the highest court in the US. Meanwhile, whoever becomes the next US president, India and the rest of the world will learn to live with the new tenant of the White House, just like India had when Trump was president. But for the stability of the global order all right-thinking people all over the world would hope that Biden gets re-elected. Dealing with a maverick leader of the world’s most powerful nation would keep the world at large on tenterhooks. For sake of a stable world order, our vote necessarily has to be for Biden.

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