Global Insight: Election shows US still deeply divided

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Even the Covid-19 pandemic has not been able to bridge the deep divisions the Presidential election has revealed in the United States society, Professor Robert Patman says.

The University of Otago foreign affairs specialist said it was ‘‘curious’’ voters had not held President Donald Trump’s administration more accountable for its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic that has killed more than 230,000 US citizens.

‘‘When you consider that more Americans have died from Covid-19 in eight months than all the battlefield casualties . . . in the post-1945 period . . . it has hardly been the emphatic win the Democrats might have hoped for,’’ Prof Patman told Global Insight, the ODT’s fortnightly foreign affairs video show.

The close and fraught election to decide whether Republican candidate Trump or Democrat candidate Joe Biden would be 46th president of the US - with both sides now heading for the courts -  showed the US was ‘‘very deeply divided’’, Patman said.

Trump has won more votes than in 2016, but Biden has received an even larger number, giving him a 2% lead in the popular vote.

‘‘I think the polarisation of America . . . has become even more stark because there are less third party challengers who are credible in this election.’’

Prof Patman says Trump’s call for vote counting to be stopped is of ‘‘dubious legality’’.

Biden, if confirmed as president, would have a Democrat-majority House of Representatives but would likely face a Republican-majority Senate. This would not be an insurmountable problem for Biden who has an effective bipartisan track record, Prof Patman said.

‘‘He’s used to working with people across the aisle.’’

New Zealand would not have an identical perspective to that of the US, no matter who was president. But the Jacinda Ardern-led Labour government would find it much easier to work with a Biden administration, Prof Patman said.

Two things pointed to that.

Biden had indicated he would use existing frameworks to handle international disputes.

Donald Trump (L) and Joe Biden are vying to be president of the United States. Photo: Reuters
Donald Trump (L) and Joe Biden are vying to be president of the United States. Photo: Reuters
‘‘When challenged about how he would handle relations with China, [Biden] said he would hold them to account according to international rules. Which of course New Zealand is a great believer in . . . because we are not big enough to make our own rules and . . . need a rules-based system so we can go about our business in a way that is fair and equitable.’’

Secondly, Biden had said he would lead an energy ‘‘paradigm shift’’ to avoid irreversible consequences of climate change.

‘‘Biden said we do not have any alternative but to energetically embrace the change.

‘‘On that basis . . . there’s a much stronger basis for co-operation.’’


The liberal media aren't blameless in this Prof Patman.
It astounds me that you never seem to acknowledge the fact that the media portrayal of Donald Trump has been overwhelmingly negative since the day he announced his decision to run for president.
The constant anti-Trump narrative and deliberate omission of anything positive from the Trump administration is clear evidence of their bias against Trump.

It's OK to personally dislike Donald Trump! But not so for the so-called 'guardians of the truth' ...It is unacceptable for them to deliberately misinform their readers. And your reluctance to acknowledge this corruption of the media does you no credit.

That is your opinion and you are entitled to it. Clearly the media agree with freedom of speech or your comment would not have seen the light of day. I for one do not agree with your interpretation.

Good for you!...Civilized debate is always preferable to ugly abuse.

The opinions of one person have much less impact than the opinions or directions of a major news outlet. Comments by individuals are somewhat irrelevant.
I believe the liberal media have a grudge against Donald Trump for winning the 2016 Presidential election and they deliberately misinform the general public of news surrounding Trump to manipulate the public perception of him.
I feel that Prof Patman dislikes Trump the man, and his opinion has been reinforced by the liberal media. That is a bias he should try to avoid.


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