It’s Beginning to Feel Almost Like Election Time
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It’s Beginning to Feel Almost Like Election Time

KAHNTENTIONS

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

Election Day is twelve weeks from today. There are 85 days left until the people of the United States will be given the opportunity to decide the future direction of the nation, in one of the most pivotal elections in American history.

Within a day or so, former Vice-President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, will announce his selection of a running mate. Next Monday, the virtual Democratic convention will begin in Milwaukee. On the following Monday, the Republican Party will nominate President Trump for a second term at their convention in Charlotte/Jacksonville/virtually.

Each of those events will be followed by their own respective, traditional media, polling, political bounce, followed by a nine-week campaign season which will be interrupted by three presidential debates and one vice-presidential debate. This is the known schedule for what is likely to be one of if not the dirtiest political campaign in American history.

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Signals

Reports suggest that the hang-up with former Vice-President Biden making his final selection of a running mate has boiled down to whether he and his staff have confidence that were he to select Senator Kamala Harris she indeed would stay focused on governing or would she be totally fixated on preparing to run in 2024. There is general consensus that Harris would be the best campaigner but there is concern as to whether she would be the most collegial vice-president for a President Biden. (What is strange in this calculation is that a strong, effective, one term, Biden Presidency would only facilitate a successful Harris candidacy.)

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Style

Campaigns are notorious for having candidates spill out half-truths and lies which the public absorbs even as the media clarifies and cleans them up. For Donald Trump this has always been his style. Trump’s operating model has been based on the axiom that he believes he can say whatever he wants. He will always be one step ahead of his correctors and detractors. The President never denies or corrects mis-statements. Trump responds to all attacks not on substance but with ad hominem replies in which he blames his accusers. It is a style his supporters revel in and which will not incumber his campaign.

Joe Biden is slow, deliberate, and prone to mis-speak. He tries to be careful and will benefit from fewer unscripted events. Biden’s behavior is not a function of age. His compassion and sensitivity make Biden appear to be soft and weak when he is just being thoughtful. His backers appreciate his care, but the undecided might be frustrated.

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Money

Money machines from both parties are cranking away as it is likely that these campaigns will feature advertisements in every possible media space. The campaign will be filled with ads and sound bites with no rallies or speaking tours. There will be interviews and infomercials but no rope lines or selfies. It will be a campaign like never before, strange in every regard. The attacks will be furious, and the surrogates will deliver charges through the media at an unprecedented level.

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Voting

America has never faced an election like 2020. Early voting will begin within weeks and mail-in voting as well will proceed on an upgrades schedule to be determined by individual states. Will it be safe? It is not assured that the USPS be able or more importantly be given the resources to process ballots in a timely fashion. There is a high expectation as well as that there will be excessive voter suppression especially in key, swing states which will guarantee litigation. Election night will leave many contests undecided and there will be weeks of legal battles in courts throughout the country.

Meanwhile there are two other concerns. First, some Americans fear that the Trump campaign and Donald Trump will never accept an election result which will deny him re-election. The implications of that eventuality are ominous. Second, there is a genuine concern in many, bi-partisan circles that the Russians will meddle with the elections; that the results will be doctored by those forces seeking to insure Trump’s re-election; and Trump’s challengers will not gain access to evidence in a timely manner to prove if Russia did sabotage the results.

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AND

This election is occurring while thousands of Americans are dying every week from the pandemic and millions of Americans are unemployed. Racial tension is elevated. Meanwhile, the President and his staff appear to be oblivious to the extent severity of the crises.

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Correction: In a previous posting it was stated that the majority of inner-city public school teachers are members of minority groups. The students are but the instructors are only approximately 20% minority.

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