The EU has little glamour compared to the US, the latter having enlisted Hollywood’s soft power to build its popular myth. It is a Hollywood myth, though, that is firmly grounded in America’s profoundly democratic, revolutionary roots, a competitive meritocracy, a permanent struggle to foster a prosperous e pluribus unum, a powerful economy that emerges from all that in a heartless market, and a state kept in check by the nation’s powerful private initiative.
Whilst fairly unglamorous, today’s efforts by the twenty-eight European partners to work together are worthy of respect, now that the great superpower that dominated the world a few decades ago is eroding the virtues of a multi-lateral approach to foreign policy, led by an extemporary leader who has left half the world perplexed. Despite the great differences in the powers they wield, Von der Leyen’s contrasting discretion has boosted her authority in spite of the difficulties involved in running Europe.
The pandemic has forced the twenty-eight EU members to cooperate economically and has also shown that their social model, while expensive and in need of a makeover, is the one that provides the best protection for the people. The coronavirus has exposed how lacking a public healthcare system has an impact on the lives of the poorest and how America has not found a satisfactory answer to the issue of healthcare provision despite the efforts of the Democrat administrations that Trump has striven to reverse in recent years.
A quiff in the wind
This week has left us a photo that will make political history books: none other than Donald Trump taking off his mask with a dramatic gesture upon returning to the White House balcony after a few days in hospital. After an arrogant remark about a virus that has killed 210,000 people —“do not let corona dominate you”—, once again Trump scorned the safety measures advised by the scientific community, taking his denialism one step further. Still, he promised older voters that he would make the exceedingly expensive treatment he has been given available to them for free.
The GOP leader appears to inhabit a parallel reality and every day he fuels the perception that he is mentally fragile and will stop at nothing to achieve his goals. Public criticism among his own team has become an increasingly common occurrence and his refusal to take responsibility for his own decisions would be child-like if Trump wasn’t the most powerful man on Earth in terms of destructive power, a man who poisons public conversation like an adder would.
Trump is no longer the maverick candidate out of a reality show who fascinated many in media and countless white males in America’s rust belt. However, his natural penchant for lying, the conspiracy atmosphere that encourages speculation over authoritative information outlets, and his appeal to the lowest of instincts mean that he still has a shot at being re-elected.
On 3 November he will face off with Obama’s VP, Joe Biden, and VP hopeful Kamala Harris, a woman who might actually land the top job, when you consider the age of the democratic presidential candidate. Even though Trump has tried to portray Harris as a “communist”, her public record has been moderate, in tune with the centrist campaign staged by the Democrats and supported by many Republicans who wish to avert another four years of dangerous unpredictability.
No holds barred
With still one election debate to go and over three weeks before Americans go to the polls, Biden is the front runner, but the campaign remains open-ended and Trump’s capacity for surprise can never be discounted. CNN claims that Biden has a 16-point lead over Trump, even though the average of all the published polls would cut that number down to 9.
The incumbent president will go all-in until the very end and perhaps beyond. The last few days have tickled the far right’s lowest instincts and cast doubt as to whether Trump will concede defeat when the time comes to do so. Trump’s strategy of disputing the validity of mail voting is working, even though few incidents have been recorded in actual fact. Donald Trump has clearly shown that he may be tempted not to concede defeat and his irate, confrontational personality could add fuel to a hypothetical situation of government upheaval.
Unless the election result is indisputable, the US could enter a period of dangerous institutional confrontation. Trump has already provided ample evidence that institutional patriotism counts for nothing when pitted against his own unbridled ambition. So much so, that he is reminiscent of Ronald Reagan’s latter days in Washington, a president who could pass for a true statesman when compared to Trump, but who allegedly exhibited signs of dementia while still in office.