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Just Politics; by Aaron Ng’ambi: Reflections on The US Elections of 2020

The outcome of this unusual and historic election of 2020 in the United States of America was by and large very predictable. Most sophisticated political analysts long concluded that President Donald J. Trump would succumb to the Democratic nominee and now President-Elect Joseph R. Biden. However, this was not an easy conclusion for anyone to reach and be confident about it because of the lessons from the 2016 United States elections are still fresh in the minds of many Americans when Trump defeated Hilary Clinton against all odds. If anything, President Trump has proved some political pundits, commentators, and political analysts can no longer be completely trusted as a source of accurate political predictions. For the first time in our generation, the pundits had gotten it all wrong in terms of predictions and polls in a major election of 2016. In fact, the President of the United States was hopeful that he would once again shame his opponents this year, but unfortunately for him, the American people spoke loud and clear in favor of former vice-president Joseph Biden.

Despite a great and spirited fight put up by President Trump in this election, he bears full responsibility for his loss and no one else. The President was either misinformed about his strategy going into the 2020 elections or he was stubborn and willingly ignored the signs of what could have been indicators for a defeat at the polls. The President had hoped that by degrading the mail in ballots and solely encourage a huge in person turn out on elections day, he would amass the votes he needed in strategic states to win the 270 electoral college votes on election day and outright secure another term of office. The problem which President Trump and his advisors did not realise is that most Americans preferred and opted for the mailing ballots because most people did not know what state the country would be in by November with the coronavirus pandemic. Therefore, millions upon millions of Americans mailed in their ballots way ahead of the time because the idea of them lining up at a polling station come election day did not sound appealing to them. Now, we have heard President Trump repeatedly discrediting the electoral process and calling the mailing ballots a fraud process. The only problem with such claims is that in June of this year (2020), the US President had gone out of his way to hire a new post master general or CEO of the post office way ahead of the elections when he realised that the post office will be crucial to the election process this year. So, the question to ask then is why President Trump would blame the Democrats or claim fraud with regards to mailing ballots when in fact his postmaster general Louis DeJoy was fully in charge of this process from the beginning. The biggest lesson in this election is that strategy and a concise message is everything in winning an election.

On election night, as the polls closed in most states, especially the battle ground states, Mr Biden was ahead of President Donald J. Trump by a small margin both in the popular vote as well as the electoral vote. As the count continued for days in most of the states, including but not limited to Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Nevada, all signs and indicators were showing that President Trump would finally lose this election, because most mailing ballots casted seemed to be in favour of the Democratic party, a problem Trump had indirectly created for himself. As the election went on, and as the race got tighter, the two men held press conferences to communicate their optimism, and enthusiasm with the supporters as the vote counting progressed. The two press conferences showcased the significant differences between these two individuals and reviewed their characteristics as leaders. On one hand the President expressed concern with regards to the mail in ballots and cited fraud without providing evidence to his claims. He also declared victory for himself indirectly. But on the other hand, Biden told his supporters that things were looking good for them and appealed for calmness and patience among his supporters. Also, the former Vice President demanded that all votes be counted before the winner was declared. In the next few days, President Trump would only speak directly to the nation and his supporters twice, while Joe Biden gave brief and periodic updates to his supporters and calling for patience.

Perhaps the lesson for President Trump is that; in a moment of a crisis or uncertainty like the situation where the nation is in suspense, the paramount thing to do is to step up, be visible and give people information and not tweet your way through a crisis or situation when people need to hear from you. This was a lost opportunity for President Trump to showcase leadership, but a moment that Biden seized and provided leadership as he appeared periodically on national Television to give people quick and brief updates while the vote counting process was going on.

Today, the United States of America finds itself in a very precarious position. This is the country that has for a long time boasted about being the oldest democracy, and the most important part of that democracy is none other than the electoral process and the transition of power. This country spends millions of dollars around the world to observe elections in other nations, and the idea that the election of 2020 in the United States (US) were not free and fair is very concerning not just for some Americans but for a lot of people around the globe. If the US cannot conduct free, fair, and transparent elections at home, then they will have no legitimacy to be election observers in any other country, especially in third world countries. There is no doubt that America today is at the crossroads of reclaiming its reputation and being exemplary among the family of civilized nations, and doing so will require that the country comes together and moves on beyond the 2020 elections. Also, we must not forget that; Donald J. Trump has changed the US political landscape significantly and the effects of such a change will be felt for many years to come.

Email; aaronngambi@yahoo.com

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