THE United States is gearing up for a poll verdict on Nov 3 in what is arguably one of the most crucial and unconventional elections in the country’s history. Although the world doesn’t have to wait long for the results of the poll, whoever becomes the next US president — Republican candidate Donald Trump or Democratic candidate Joe Biden — it is evident that this election is taking place at a very critical moment in history.
Americans have to make a critical decision that will have significant repercussions for not just national politics but also global issues such as the Covid-19 pandemic, superpower relations and the climate emergency. Excitement is at an all-time high and can be gauged by the record number of voters who turned up in states where early voting is taking place. Official tallies suggest that more than 80m Americans have already cast their ballot, a turnout which sets the stage for America’s highest participation rate in over a century — all against the backdrop of the pandemic, an economic recession and the country’s deeply polarised and acrimonious politics.
In the months leading up to the election, the American people have been divided over whether they want to see the current president — and his performance over the last four years — continue. But as we await their choice, it is important to reflect on how disastrous and divisive the Trump presidency has been.
Mr Trump and his administration have ignited fires on multiple fronts and have been on the wrong side of far too many rights issues. His term has seen unprecedented discrimination against immigrants, heated racial tensions and the highest number of Covid-19 cases and deaths in the world. On the foreign policy front, Mr Trump has escalated tensions with China, pulled out of a nuclear deal with Iran and unsuccessfully tried to reinvent Middle East politics. In one particularly shocking moment soon after he was elected, Mr Trump pulled out of the 2015 Paris Agreement — a culmination of his persistent denial of the climate threat which has far-reaching consequences for humanity.
The tense environment in the US is not likely to ease in the coming days — especially in the event that Mr Trump does not win, as he has categorically talked about electoral fraud and said he won’t commit to leaving the White House even if he loses. Not only has he said he suspects fraud at the polls, he has criticised mail-in ballots and cast doubt over their legitimacy.
By sowing distrust in the result ahead of election day on Nov 3, Mr Trump is setting the stage for a potential constitutional crisis that America has never witnessed before. It is in this charged atmosphere that Americans are voting to decide the future of their country and also the world as it confronts huge challenges to the environment, democracy, journalism, free speech and identity.