Two months out from the election, the Republicans and Democrats are both pitching dark visions of an irreparably damaged nation if the other side prevails.
For the First Time, the Democrats are the Party Pitching a Return to Normalcy
Watch: History of the Democratic Party’s pitch of ‘A Return To Normalcy’
In 1920, the Republican nominee for President, Warren Harding delivered a campaign speech in which he declared the Republicans were offering a return to normality. He mispronounced the word as ‘normalty.’ The press altered it further to ‘normalcy’, and a political phrase was born. Over the ensuing century, Republicans would continue to offer a brand of restoration and normalcy, while the Democrats would offer renewal, change and advancement. F.D.R promised a new deal; Kennedy a new frontier; Carter a new age of honesty and transparency; Clinton Baby boomer generational transition, and Obama ‘hope and change.’ For the first time in a century, the Democrats, with Joe Biden, are offering a return to normalcy, and the restoration of traditional democratic and societal norms. They are promoting themselves as a corrective to what they view as the aberration of the Trump years. Trump, on the other hand, is promoting himself in much the same way he did in 2016, as a disruptor. The American public are therefore being asked to contend with often contradictory notions of progress and consolidation – from both parties.
The Narrative That Trump’s Polling Has Slipped is Not Wholly Accurate
Watch: Biden’s lead over Trump cut to six points
The media narrative has been that Trump’s poll numbers have dived, or are crashing; but a closer look reveals that, in the average of the polls, he only dipped down to about 40%, for a month or so at the peak of the crisis, a couple of points lower than the average over his whole term; and in the last week, he has shown, for the first time, a very modest uptick of a point or so, bringing him back within his usual range. Similarly, the divide in his approval / disapproval rating may have peaked a few weeks ago at 40% approval and 56% disapproval, and this divide is now tightening up slightly. It is likely he will get a modest bounce in the wake of the four-day republican convention.
Joe Biden Delivered When It Counted
Watch: Joe Biden’s speech at the 2020 Democratic National Convention
The Republicans have been pushing a narrative that Joe Biden, at 77, has lost a step, and is in cognitive decline. At the culmination of the Democratic National Convention, Biden delivered a twenty-five-minute address in a manner that was crisp, focused and authentic – to the great relief of the party. Given President Trump’s obtuse rhetoric, unwillingness to take responsibility or blame for any aspect of the current predicament, and his disregard for facts and science, the American public might conclude that the bigger issue isn’t whether Joe Biden is suffering from cognitive decline – it is the fact Donald Trump declines to be cognitive.
Watch: Trump Campaign’s video claiming Joe Biden’s cognitive decline.
After Two Days, The RNC Has Still Not Gone After Hunter Biden
Watch: President Trump’s remark on Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden
There had been an expectation, in the lead-up to the Republican National Convention, that Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, would be targeted for his ties to the firm Burisma, where he sat on the board, earning substantially, despite the firm’s ties to China. After two days, there have been no attacks, which suggests the Republicans have made the calculation that sympathy for the Biden family is such a pitch, after the poignant emphasis of the candidate’s tragic history of familial loss, that an attack on Joe Biden’s remaining son might spark a prospective backlash and be seen as somewhat unseemly, and, on balance, would not be a net-positive. There are still two days, remaining, however.
Both parties Are Making Dire Predictions of the End of the American Way of Life
Watch: All about the Democratic and Republican National Conventions
The Republicans have spent the last couple of days warning of an erosion of freedom – an erosion that will be irreversible and destroy the country – if the Democrats are elected. In their view, the quintessential American freedom of expression is imperilled by the left’s ‘cancel culture’ in which controversial or unconventional voices in politics, comedy and entertainment are being silenced by leftists on social media, who collectively cancel people whose contributions to the discourse are deemed ‘offensive’ or ‘problematic.’ This extends to the ‘problematic’ aspects of the lives of historical figures, including the founding fathers. On the other side, the Democrats are warning of a similarly irreparable erosion of American freedom if the President is allowed another four years to indulge his autocratic instincts, pardoning jailed allies, crippling institutions, denigrating the media and the general standards of how a President in a modern democracy ought to comport themselves. Both sides are guilty of internal contradictions and hypocrisies. What the baton wielding Federal troops without insignia sent into the streets of Portland are practicing in the sphere of public protest, the extremists of cancel-culture are practicing in the sphere of public discourse.
The Debates will be Crucial
Without live audiences, the party conventions have been restricted and compromised, and the ratings thus far have been down on 2016. In a week or so, the modest convention bounces will have faded, and everything will re-set to how it was a month ago. The three debates will determine the state of the race in the run-up to election day. Biden’s ability to maintain energy and coherence will be closely watched – as will Trump’s ability, or willingness, to lay out a meaningful agenda for a second term.
Before You Go
Quiz: Who should you vote for in the 2020 Elections?