Trade War Cost Support
The current socio-political crisis unfolding across the US right now poses important questions for the upcoming US elections due towards the end of the year. Trump had already seen his approval ratings among voters falling over the last year as the negative impact of his trade war against China became clearly visible. This saw support among his blue-collar base heavily diminished.
However, Trump sought to remedy this through the signing of an “historic” trade deal with China at the start of the year. The deal was accompanied by plenty of jingoistic fanfare from the president who lauded the agricultural and manufacturing workers in the US with praise and assured them that the deal would bring them great prosperity and began looking towards the second phase of the deal.
COVID-19 Weakened Support Further
However, Trump’s agenda was then shattered by the outbreak of COVID-19. As with the UK, the outbreak was largely ignored in the US initially, leading to thousands of unnecessary deaths as Trump dragged his heels with imposing lockdowns and distributing PPE and tests. With the US death toll quickly surging into poll position globally and with the US economy in freefall, Trump soon found himself awash with criticism.
In an effort to deflect this criticism he quickly changed tact on china and adopted a position of aggressively, publicly decrying China’s involvement in the outbreak of the virus. This included accusing China of having manufactured the virus, claiming to have seen evidence of the fact. With US unemployment rocketing to levels not seen since the 30s, Trump then changed tact on lockdown and called for US states to be “liberated”, as he wrote on Twitter, against the advice of many health authorities many of which still warn of a deadly second wave still to come.
Handling of Civil Unrest Challenging Support Once Again
Just as the US was beginning to put some faith in the ending of lockdown measures and the start of the recovery underway across the country, Trump was hit by another catastrophic situation. The unlawful killing of an unarmed black man by a Minneapolis police office sparked furious nationwide racial equality protests. With protestors met with disproportionate and in many cases unprovoked brutality, the situation quickly spiralled into increasing incidences of full scale rioting.
Trump then found himself under massive domestic and international criticism once again over its response to the disorder. With Twitter intervening to censor some of the president’s posts, which it claimed glorified violence, Trump was seen threatening to shoot looters and to attack White House protestors with dogs.
Sensing that this could be an opportunity to appeal the portion of the US electorate which respond to such methods, Trump adopted an aggressive, almost totalitarian response and warned that US military would be deployed nationwide to quell the unrest if the disorder didn’t cease.
With the world watching, many are wondering if this current storm of crises will cripple his chances of re-election or whether his handling of the crisis will resonate amongst his hardcore supports in a way which restores the support he has lost over the last two years.
Looking At The Polls
The latest polling aggregates suggest that his favour is falling fast and with an increasing number of both police officers and civilians losing their lives as the riots stretch into an eighth night, the risks of military deployment continue to grow, posing the question: what will happen then?
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