US Election: Comment

Voter Bases: Neoliberals v. Neo-Nazis

America’s 2020 presidential race is arguably one of the most crucial and divisive political clashes in US history. And, between the performatively progressive neoliberalism of Joe Biden and the crypto-fascist politics of Donald Trump, many voters feel voiceless and unrepresented by the two parties meant to empower them. While Trump focuses on securing the support of his increasingly radicalised base, Biden overextends himself by attempting to appease both progressives and moderates.

Joe Biden, self-labelled as “the Democratic Party right now”, perfectly represents the difference in the US political spectrum versus that of the UK. Considered a left-of-centre progressive in America, his voting record aligns more with policy regarded by the UK as centre-right, with a past stained with war and crime bills which hit the BAME community hardest. With Kamala Harris as his potential Vice President, Biden’s administration will struggle to pick up the votes of the left, who depend on him to voice their concerns. Considering Harris’ past defence of incarcerating thousands of Black people on drug offences and her refusal to prosecute violent officers, the Democrats must work hard to regain the trust of minority communities.

Biden’s current anti-racist rhetoric is non-specific almost to the point of redundancy. In the first presidential debate he took a lukewarm stance regarding the police force, briefly condemning them to appeal to the youth’s increasingly anti-police outlook: simultaneously, he “totally opposed” defunding the police, attempting to appease the neoliberal long-time supporters of Democratic moderates. Biden treads carefully as to not lose the centrist vote to the unequivocally police-supporting Republicans. However, with moderately progressive stances on issues such as pollution and healthcare, Biden cannot be entirely discredited. He has still succeeded in capturing some left-wing votes.

While Biden strives to gain votes across the political spectrum, Trump has his sights set on a violent fascist demographic. Anti-intellectual and disparaging science, he engages with COVID deniers and white supremacists alike. Without explicitly denying COVID’s existence, he remains vague enough to garner the votes of those who do, delegitimising the fatal threat it poses every time he speaks about it. His “superspreader” rallies cluster thousands of mask-less people together, including in retirement communities where many people vulnerable to the virus reside.

Trump also caters to white evangelicals with his rightfully controversial pro-life stance and constant push for Bible literacy being taught in schools – a favourable tactic in the 2016 election, where more than three-quarters of white evangelicals lent him their votes. He has accumulated a dangerously radical far-right support system. During the first presidential debate, when asked to condemn white supremacists, he told the violent alt-right group the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by”. Racists, fascists, and neo-Nazis have evidently found a home within the Trump campaign.

These candidates are not confidence-inspiring to many voters. Their vote lies with whoever they deem the “lesser of two evils”. It’s becoming clearer with every election that America’s two-party state is flaw-riddled and inadequate in performing its core role to meet the needs of all citizens.

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Layssa Castleton

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June 2022
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