In 2016, Donald Trump won the presidential election with the slogan “Make America Great Again”. And the rest is history.
Trump aimed his attention at illegal immigration, the offshoring of American jobs, the U.S. national debt, and Islamic terrorism. Non-campaign issues such as healthcare, education, homelessness, religion and social issues, environment and science, criminal justice, rights of native Americans, and white supremacy were pushed to the backburner.
While Trump targets illegal immigration, the offshoring of jobs, the US national debt, and Islamic terrorism, these are the main problems that concern American voters.
With Trump adopting “Keep America Great” as his campaign slogan for his 2020 presidential run, here are the top 5 Non-traditional Issues Americans will vote for this US Election…
Watch: Key Issues facing Trump and Biden ahead of November
5) The Crumbling Healthcare Infrastructure
The devastating global pandemic has brought issues like public health, economic inequality, and racism to the fore forcing citizens to revisit what characteristics they want in their president. Will they vote for Trump who repeatedly downplayed the severity of COVID-19; lied about the country’s preparation for the once-in-a-generation crisis; spread misinformation about the pandemic; left states on their own to grapple with the disaster; supported armed white men carrying Confederate flags, swastikas, and nooses demanding an end to the lockdown; and chided Joe Biden for wearing a protective mask even though the virus killed more than 210,000 people in the United States and has thrown millions out of work?
Will Americans vote for Trump who repeatedly downplayed the severity of COVID-19; lied about the country’s preparation for the once-in-a-generation crisis?
Or, will they vote for Biden who wants to provide free testing for all; hire 100,000 people to set up a national contact-tracing program; establish at least 10 testing centers in every state; and ask governors to mandate wearing masks?
The latest Reuters/Ipsos poll has found 37% percent of American adults approved Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic, while 59% disapproved it. Time observes: “The pandemic has brought new urgency to issues like access to health care, inequality and the social safety net, while driving Trump’s preferred topics of immigration and trade out of the picture.”
“Indicators that normally correlate to incumbents’ political fortunes, such as the economy, may not apply this year,” says GOP pollster Patrick Ruffini. “The country can unite behind its leaders in a crisis if they feel like things are at least moving in the right direction. The summer’s case spike seemed to break off that possibility for the President. He’ll still have a chance to show that things have turned a corner before November, but time is running very short.”
4) America’s Homelessness Crisis
COVID-19 has also exposed the depth and severity of America’s homelessness crisis. When stay-at-home orders were given by governors and mayors, more than a million Americans had nowhere to go. According to a recent study, the economic, housing and employment instability caused by COVID-19 could lead to a 45% rise in homelessness in less than a year. Yet, the issue of homelessness and affordable housing has largely been absent from Trump’s campaign trail, even though it is a priority across the nation.
The economic, housing and employment instability caused by COVID-19 could lead to a 45% rise in homelessness in less than a year.
Trump has taken no major steps to relieve homelessness or expand the supply of low-cost housing. His campaign website includes no proposals on homelessness or housing that he would pursue during his second term.
Biden, on the other hand, wants to reinstate the fair housing rule scrapped by Trump; provide emergency housing support for tenants threatened with eviction during the pandemic; establish a $100-billion affordable housing fund to finance the upgrading of housing for low-income Americans; put $10 billion into tax incentives to encourage developers to build affordable housing for low-income communities; spend $13 billion to combat homelessness; and ensure housing for all formerly incarcerated Americans when they are released from prison.
When only 10% of homeless voters make it to the ballot, it becomes easy for the issue to be off the radar. However, 2020 is expected to change that. While it is unlikely that those without a roof over their head will have the strength to cross the barriers to voting, fellow Americans will vote for their cause. Why? Because homelessness costs taxpayers.
Homeless Americans are more likely to access the costliest services in the United States like emergency room visits, mental health services, drug treatment, Medicaid, food stamps and emergency shelters. A chronically homeless person costs the taxpayer an average of $35,578 per year.
3) Rising Income Inequality
The issue of income inequality heads to the back burner after it momentarily makes it to the front during U.S. presidential campaigns. In 2016, Donald Trump promised to reverse the trends of income inequality and won the election. Reversing the trend meant ensuring the manufacturing and service jobs pay a middle-class wage. It meant the wealthiest Americans pay more in taxes. Trump has since abandoned that idea.
Four years later, income inequality is still on the agenda. However, Americans have started to care about this – deeply.
According to a new Pew Research Center survey, about six-in-ten U.S. adults said there’s too much economic inequality in the country, and that addressing it requires significant changes to the country’s economic system. More than eight-in-ten adults who said there’s too much economic inequality want the government to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans in order to address inequality in the country.
At the height of the pandemic, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffett and Larry Ellison collectively witnessed their already incredible wealth increase by $101.7 billion (between March 18 and June 17). 643 US billionaires gained $845 billion during the first six months of the pandemic with Jeff Bezos pocketing $73 billion and Elon Musk $67 billion. Total net worth of the country’s billionaires rose from $2.95 trillion to $3.8 trillion. Meanwhile, 50 million Americans lost jobs, with nearly 14 million still unemployed. Forbes warns: “If this trend continues, America could become a medieval, feudalistic country. We’ll have an elite oligarchy running things, supported by a coterie of top lawyers, accountants and managers. At the bottom of the pyramid will be the working class conducting all of the dirty jobs for low pay, at the cost of personal health risks.”
Will America vote for Biden who supports raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour; a $400 billion pledge to use federal dollars to buy American goods; enforce “Buy American” laws for new transport projects; and calls for the federal government to invest $300 billion in US-made materials, services, research and technology? Or, will America vote for Trump who wants to take on income inequality, but doesn’t have a plan?
2) The Burning Issue of Race
George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody on May 25 spurred brutal police violence, massive protests, looting and retaliation across all 50 states, making institutionalized racism a key election issue. Floyd’s death and the subsequent protests became the catalysts for conversations about systemic racism and police reform in the United States. Demands to defund the police or move funds from law enforcement agencies to social programs soared manifold.
“People are just fed up,” said LaTosha Brown, co-founder for Black Voters Matter Fund. “The Black community is fed up with the state-sanctioned violence, the police brutality, and violence against the community. The folks that we’re talking to, they are looking for a radical transformation of how policing takes place in this country, and they want to see changes in the criminal justice system, which has exploited and devastated our community”. Demands to address issues of systemic racism and calls for police reform are not only supported by Black Americans but also white and Latino Americans. According to an ABC News/Ipsos poll, 63% of Americans support the Black Lives Matter movement; while 69% of white Americans and 62% of Latinos believe that minorities receive unequal treatment in the criminal justice system.
69% of white Americans and 62% of Latinos believe that minorities receive unequal treatment in the criminal justice system.
Biden’s plan calls for alternatives to detention, expungement of convictions for marijuana use; banning chokeholds and no-knock warrants at the federal level; and a national registry on complaints, terminations, and disciplinary records. His racial equity plan aims to devote $30 billion to a new small business opportunity fund, which would yield $150 billion in venture capital and low-interest business loans.
Trump, who called the Floyd’s protestors “thugs”; refers to Mexicans crossing the southern border as “criminals, drug dealers, rapists” and terms the Black Lives Matter mural outside of Trump Tower a “symbol of hate”. In the recent months, he has defended armed white militants; right-wing weapon-waving activists; and a white teen who shot and killed two protesters in Wisconsin recently.
Racial equality is a contentious issue; hence, it has become a non-campaign issue as a campaign centered on racial equality – than on economy, unemployment, public health, foreign policy and immigration – could have diminishing returns for Trump. The Washington Post writes: “Trump is far better at the art of distraction than understanding the powers — and limits — of the presidency. Every minute we spend talking about whether he is able to steal the election is one less that we’re focusing on the reasons to send him packing: more than 200,000 dead from covid-19 due in part to his malfeasance and incompetence, the impacts of the pandemic on our economy and our children, our destroyed reputation abroad, barbaric immigration policies at home, the embrace of white supremacy and police brutality, and the list goes on.”
1) Climate Change
When Trump withdrew from the 2015 Paris Agreement, which committed the U.S. to cutting greenhouse gases up to 28% by 2025 (based on 2005 levels), it symbolized his skepticism about climate change (which he still calls a hoax). He also ended the Clean Power Plan, an initiative put in place by Obama to curb carbon emissions from power plants and push states to shift toward renewable energy.
Though he has dismissed findings by scientists about the dangers of climate change, recent wildfires in the western United States and Hurricane Laura put the impact of climate change back in the spotlight. However, it barely had an impact on the election campaign of both Trump and Biden. Associated Press writes: “The president is already facing multiple challenges, including the pandemic, joblessness and social unrest, and can ill afford another one. And for Biden, the spreading fires are a reminder to the party’s progressive base that he doesn’t embrace some of the most liberal elements of the Green New Deal, the grand plan for tackling climate change.”
Recent wildfires and Hurricane Laura put climate change back in the spotlight. But it barely had an impact on either Trump or Biden’s election campaign.
Though he does not embrace the Green New Deal, Biden proposes a $1.7 trillion federal investment in green technologies research; wants the U.S. to reach zero emissions by 2050; and create jobs in manufacturing “green energy” products. “It’s no surprise that Trump isn’t talking about the fact that America is literally in flames on his watch – but why isn’t Biden?” said Rebecca Katz, a political strategist who has worked with Democratic congressional candidates supporting the measure. “For Democrats to not connect what’s happening on the West Coast to Trump’s failure on climate change is just political malpractice.”
Nonetheless, the issue of climate change will decide who wins the White House this time. According to a Pew Research Center survey, a majority of registered voters in the United States say climate change will be a very (42%) important issue in making their decision about whom to vote for in the presidential election.