Joe Biden retains the edge – editorials – Hindustan Times

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His victory will be good for the US, India and the world

If Mr Biden wins, it will be, in large part, because he is seen as the candidate who will heal the social wounds bleeding the US today. (AP)

The final United States (US) presidential debate was a normal affair with the two candidates laying out their respective visions for their country. However, for a trailing President Donald Trump, normal is not enough. The debate was his last real chance to woo the large number of in-between voters who support Republican policies, but oppose Mr Trump. Initial polls indicate he won a thumbs up only from the same 42% of voters who have always been with him. Democratic hopeful Joe Biden gave a standard performance but, given his lead in national and swing state polls, that was all he needed.

It will take a small miracle for Mr Trump to win next month. The president is struggling most against an enemy to whom he has no response: Covid-19. He sought to brazen it out in the debate by falsely claiming the pandemic was under control, but even among conservatives, his credibility on the virus is minimal. Combined with his personality, this has cost Mr Trump heavily with two pillars of his 2016 voter coalition — elderly whites and suburban women. Add large numbers from these two groups to Mr Biden’s solid liberal, white and minority base, and it is hard to see Democrats losing in November. Winning the national vote is already assured. More critically, given the electoral college system, Mr Biden has seen margins increase steadily in the upper Midwest states even as he ties Mr Trump in Red strongholds in the South.

Foreign policy continues to be the stepchild of the election. This should be no surprise. The success of anti-establishment politics and the deep racial and class polarisation are symptoms of severe domestic challenges. If Mr Biden wins, it will be, in large part, because he is seen as the candidate who will heal the social wounds bleeding the US today. Countries such as India may be concerned that the US struggle against China, so fervently taken up by
Mr Trump, will see a dilution under a Democratic administration. A long view should be taken. The foundation on which the US’s superpower status rests is the strength of its social contract and the coherence of its domestic institutions. If these fall apart, isolationalism and parochialism will overwhelm Washington’s desire for global involvement. Mr Trump thrives on divisiveness at home and this makes it harder for the US to look abroad. A Biden administration, on the other hand, will attempt to rebuild the domestic consensus that ensures the US remains globally engaged.

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