The case seemed to be over. Donald Trump no longer had any chance of being re-elected President of the United States on Tuesday, November 3, 2020.
With the Covid-19 crisis and its erratic management by the White House, Trump’s main electoral argument had collapsed, which was the good health of the American economy and full employment, including for disadvantaged minorities.
The president was also counting on two more rounds of ammunition. The first, and certainly an effective one, was that he was a super-minister of the interior, having succeeded in stemming illegal immigration from Mexican territory. No better argument to conquer the working classes, weary of the wage cuts caused by competition from illegal immigrants.
Unfortunately for Trump, the other cartridge, that of the super-diplomat, still seems empty: he has not managed to conclude his peace with North Korea. And during his tenure, America’s relations with China, Russia and Iran have seriously deteriorated. In short, say European commentators, it is with a below-average score that Trump will present himself to the American people.
But they forget that a presidential election is not a university exam. It’s a contest. You just have to destroy your opponent. And Trump is facing one of the worst candidates in the history of the Democratic Party.
Joe Biden has a history of saying the wrong thing. When he was invited to a black radio station on the morning of May 22, by a black host, the former vice president told him: “If you can’t decide between Trump and me, you’re not really black!”.
Is this a return of the repressed? Are black American voters like a herd of sheep, all voting the same way? For Mr Biden, would the color of your skin prevent you from maintaining your political free will? Had the former vice president forgotten that 1,300,000 black American voters voted for Trump in 2016?
It is said that Steve Bannon has reconciled with Donald Trump and that he could once again direct his campaign strategy. This outstanding strategist can be trusted to fully exploit Biden’s gaffe to attract more black voters to the Republican Party. Bannon is an economic nationalist but not an ethnic one.
After the August 2017, incidents in Charlottesville (where a white supremacist killed an anti-racist protester when he drove his car into her), Bannon called ethnic nationalists “losers” and “clowns”.
Bannon will also try to increase the proportion of Hispanic voters willing to vote for Trump, based on the theory that the last to arrive always want to close the door behind them: the legal immigrant who is well integrated into US society has no personal interest in seeing more immigrants arrive on US soil.
Biden’s supporters are concentrated in the eastern and western coastal states which, living off finance and digital technology, have not been victims of globalisation. Trump’s voters are predominantly in the central states, which make their living from agriculture and used to be home to traditional manufacturing industries.
Bannon is a formidable opponent for the “limousine liberals” (the caviar left), the big financiers of the Democratic Party. Himself coming from within the system (he was a brilliant investment banker at Goldman Sachs), he knows it from the inside. Saddened by the industrial relocations to China in the name of profit, disgusted by the behaviour of Wall Street before and during the financial crisis of 2008, outraged by the disappearance of small economies of middle-class workers, revolted by the impunity that the big bankers then enjoyed, he decided, about ten years ago, to attack a system that the Clinton couple had come to terms with so well.
And he was able to convince Trump that this was the right angle.
Since they couldn’t sell America “great again” to an electorate in the worst economic crisis since 1929, Trump, Pompeo and Bannon decided to play the Chinese enemy card. It is on this theme that they will campaign to rally new voters in the Swing States. A China that cheats (with WTO rules), a China that lies (on the militarisation of the Spratley and Paracels islands), a China that steals (American technology), a China that poisons (with the Wuhan virus). And the Biden family, accomplices of that China… The string may very well work.
We can but hope that, if re-elected, Trump will not immediately change his mind and make a big deal with his “friend” Xi Jinping, on the backs of the Europeans…
This article was first published in Le Figaro.