Samuel Case FISM News
Fortunately for the incumbent president, a strategic change is already underway . . .
Since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, I’ve maintained the idea that Trump’s re-election will be largely based on whether or not by the end of the summer we have begun our economic recovery without a significant second wave of infections. If this happens, it seems to me that Biden and the Democrats will have a difficult time convincing the American people the President hasn’t successfully navigated the crisis. Consequently, in the process, Trump will have proven himself to be at least a competent leader, if not a great leader in the view of some. However, if the U.S. is still facing significant impacts of the virus by the time of the election, Trump will have his work cut out for him. Trump is already viewed by many as a chaotic leader and, in a time of disorder, Americans are longing for a sense of stability and comfort — which is something Joe Biden’s personality emits, regardless of whether his policies will actually result in either.
Throughout most of his Presidency, Donald Trump has touted a thriving economy, booming stock market, and low unemployment among all groups, as evidence of his efficacy in office; this was, in all likelihood, to be the foundation of his reelection bid. Now, with Steve Mnuchen suggesting that the unemployment rate is at 25% and the stock market flailing wildly, President Trump will need to prepare for the worst and adapt his message to defeat Joe Biden.
Fortunately for the incumbent president, a strategic change is already underway in the campaign. According to a Reuters report, “Several Trump aides say their 2020 campaign will now be chiefly defined by two themes: Trump is the only candidate who can resurrect the economy and that Biden will not be as tough on China. . .” If true, proper implementation of this two-prong attack may be key to a Trump victory, even in the midst of the Coronavirus crisis.
The first prong, “Trump is the only candidate who can resurrect the economy” is only slightly different from his previous strategy, but certainly more applicable to the reality on the ground and a better foil to Biden’s messaging. If Biden is positioning himself as the comfort candidate, or a familiar face in uncertain times, Trump is projecting the image of a confident leader charging into the future. During one of his daily press conferences, Trump noted, “We built the greatest economy in the world, I’ll do it a second time.” Trump may just turn Obama’s “hope and change” campaign against Biden.
If Biden is calling for a return to a safe, familiar past, Trump is looking to an unknown, but prosperous future. It’s a message he can sell by relying on his previous economic success, and a message many Americans appear to be buying. In the same report, Reuters shares “In the latest Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted Monday and Tuesday, 45% of Americans said Trump would be better at creating jobs, compared with 32% who thought Biden would be better at it.”
While the economy will always be a strong pitch for Trump, during this pandemic his attacks on China may be more effective against Biden. Trump thrives with an opponent and, when he has the proper enemy, it can be one of his greatest strengths. In my opinion, Biden is not the ideal target for Trump’s wrath. Let’s face it, Biden is a likable guy, and will almost always be more likable than Trump on a certain level. Even his continual gaffing can make him appear safe and unimposing. If Trump were to attack Biden’s age or his stumbling speaking patterns, it will be too easy to portray Trump as a bully and Biden as a battered and bruised victim or, even worse for Trump, a hero, standing up to someone as vicious as Trump.
If Trump can make China the target of his campaign, he has a strong chance of taking Biden out indirectly. America’s distrust of China is at an all-time high — thanks in part to Trump continually blaming the country for the Coronavirus. He will have no trouble convincing the American public that his aggressive tactics are not only justified, but desired, and that the U.S. will need a strong president to keep China in check. Trump will easily be able to juxtapose his strong record on China with the more passive if not amicable stance of Joe Biden, who notoriously back in 2011 said, “he understands China’s one-child policy.” Biden’s son Hunter also has business dealings in China. Hunter has already been painted as less than honest, thanks to his work with Ukrainian Gas company Burisma — something brought to the forefront during Trump’s impeachment hearings and trial. If Trump can make the voters uncomfortable with Hunter’s work in China, and link his dealing in the country to Biden’s soft stance, it may prove fatal to Biden’s campaign.
With the litany of Trump’s past moral failings and allegations of sexual assault against Joe Biden, many voters will be seeing this election as a choice between the lesser of two evils. If it comes down to the moral evaluations between Biden and Trump, the President is likely to lose, simply because of public perception. However, if the moral comparison is between Donald Trump and a country that censures citizens, persecutes religious minorities, and imprisons political dissidents, Trump’s evils will always appear lesser.