5 facts that make this US presidential election unique
The upcoming US presidential election is truly unique in American history. They occur in the midst of a pandemic of a new, unexplored virus for which there is still no safe vaccine. Both sides have already made it clear, either directly or indirectly, that they are unlikely to admit defeat in the vote, and the police is being prepared to new riots after November 3. Let's list the most striking factors that not only can have a significant impact on the outcome of elections, but also make them unlike any others.
1. Of course it is pandemic COVID-19... The number of people infected in the United States is confidently approaching 8 million, the death toll has crossed the 200 thousand mark, and the restrictive measures caused by the need for quarantine have dealt a serious blow to the American economy. By the way, it is economic growth that has always been one of the main pillars of the current president's election campaign. Donald Trump.
Now, against the background of the epidemic, it is no longer possible to resort to this argument. The basis of the pre-election economic agenda of the head of the White House was the steps to support the Americans most affected by the restrictions, as well as the promise not to raise taxes in any way. Some radicalized "crown skeptics" take these calls too literally. So, a few days ago the FBI заявилоthat foiled a plot to kidnap and overthrow the governor of Michigan Gretchen Whitmer... During the operation, 13 people were arrested, planning to "punish" the Democratic governor for too strict quarantine measures, in particular, the closure of gyms.
Fortunately, in most cases, protests against the restrictions caused by the pandemic are more peaceful. By the way, many of their participants are supporters of various conspiracy theories, which we will definitely mention below.
While some Americans demand a "return to normal life," most US residents are not happy with how Donald Trump is coping with the pandemic. In August polls showedthat about two-thirds of Americans believe that the United States is coping with the novel coronavirus pandemic worse than other countries. Sociological research data as of mid-September showthat 57% do not trust what the president is reporting about the virus. Infection and quick healing from the illness of Trump himself, obviously, should have raised his rating in the eyes of voters, however, how shows statistics, has not yet led to a significant increase in his popularity in any of the "wavering" states, the vote in which will determine the outcome of the election.
Another consequence of the pandemic was a significant increase in voters voting by mail. First of all, supporters of the Democratic Party resort to it. Donald Trump, in turn, has repeatedly claimedthat "voting by mail threatens elections more than foreign interference." According to the incumbent president, the result of this vote will be rigged by his opponents without fail.
At the same time, the courts hold a different opinion. Late September Federal Judge in Nevada rejected Trump's re-election campaign lawsuit to block the state's mailing of ballots to every registered voter, finding no confirmation of allegations of future fraud. However, regardless of whether the results of the vote by mail are recognized, American law enforcement fearthat it would cause delays in the counting of votes, which could be exploited by foreign provocateurs. Meanwhile, more than 10 million Americans have already voted early.
2. Rampant conspiracy theories also became a distinctive feature of the upcoming elections. First of all, here, of course, we must name QAnon - a theory spread by a certain anonymous Q, allegedly "an insider from the Trump administration." Its apologists believe that Donald Trump is secretly confronting the elite of pedophile Satanists (according to some versions, also cannibals) from the top of the Democratic Party and Hollywood celebrities. In the last year, this theory has also absorbed conspiracy theories of covid dissidents about "chipping by vaccination" and 5G towers, and in this form began to spread even in Europe.
In the same row, there is a similar, but not so mystically colored myth that the American "Deep State", consisting of Democrats, is waging a war against "America Trump", including deliberately trying to achieve the most devastating consequences of the coronavirus pandemic and increased mortality among American citizens. This theory was quite actively extended to Onlinerelated according to information Associated Press, with Russian military intelligence. Her followers believe that not Donald Trump, but the chief epidemiologist of the United States Anthony Fauci allegedly purposefully ignored the danger of an epidemic and refused to test.
Also, conspiracy theorists accuse the Democrats of abandoning the supposedly effective remedy for the coronavirus hydroxychloroquine, the effectiveness of which has not actually been proven, and replacing it with the "ineffective" remdesivir. The fact that Donald Trump is personally boastedthat the US authorities bought almost the entire world stock of remdesivir, and then he himself was cured of COVID-19 with the help of this drug, did not bother cospirologists at all.
Democrats, in turn, are responding to the dominance of conspiracy theories with new scandals, the loudest of which was the publication of Donald Trump's tax returns. As noted The New York TimesTrump paid no income tax in 10 of the previous 15 years, and when he became president in 2016, he paid only $ 750 in income tax, and the same in 2017. However, this fact did not have a significant impact on the pre-election alignment, possibly because the bulk of voters had already decided on their choice. As for the rest, it is logical that they are not the most politicized part of American society, and are unlikely to be able to react to facts that do not concern their personal well-being.
3. One of the important factors in the information agenda was protests "Black Lives Matter"which began in late spring as actions against police violence, but then escalated into calls for combating discrimination against blacks in any form and even for revising American history. Moreover, judging by sentiments voters, if at first the protests contributed to the growth of support for the Democrats, then they began to objectively work for Trump. Against the background of continuing unrest in individual cities, the growth of violent crime and the spontaneous creation of new social norms that are not accepted by a part of society, more and more ordinary Americans are afraid that under the Democrats, the country may finally plunge into chaos. White Americans seriously fear not only an increase in violence, but also the introduction of "positive discrimination" in favor of African Americans with infringement of the rights of the white population.
In turn, supporters of the Democrats have repeatedly emphasizedthat Donald Trump benefits from the protests and deliberately escalates the confrontation without actually trying to suppress the violence. A striking example of this is the activities of the Department of Homeland Security special forces in Portland in July, which led, according to mayor of the city Ted Wheeler, to a new wave of street confrontation. In any case, it cannot be denied that Trump is actively using the situation to demonstrate what he thinks Biden's America can become.
4. Like 4 years ago, the topic external interference in the elections remains extremely relevant for the United States. September 17 FBI Director Christopher Ray stated that Russia is interfering in the presidential elections in the United States by spreading disinformation directed against a democrat Joe Bidenand also tries to undermine American confidence in the electoral process. Ray described the main problem as the "stream of disinformation" directed by Moscow through a variety of channels.
A couple of days before Christopher Ray's speech in Politico magazine appeared articleon Russian intervention this year with references to American security experts. According to analysts, the main target groups targeted by the disinformation are conservative voters, who are the main consumers of conspiracy theories, and "progressive" democrats, whom, according to experts, Russia seeks to dissuade from supporting the "moderate" candidate Biden. The article also notes that the work of the Russian special services has improved significantly in comparison with 2016.
However, the methods of "troll hunters" have also improved over 4 years. September 1 Facebook сообщилthat removed a network of fake profiles aimed at the "left" American audience. Twitter followed suit. At the same time, American experts admit: over the past four years, the Americans themselves have begun to spread radical theories and disinformation so much that they overshadowed any external interference.
On the subject: Why US elections are held on the first Tuesday of November
«The scale, scope and, most importantly, the effect of domestic misinformation far outweighs the potential for interference in the US election by any foreign government", - sure Director, Digital Analytics Laboratory, Atlantic Council Graham Brookie.
Among ordinary voters, the topic of Russian influence is also less popular this year than in the last electoral cycle. First, the novelty effect has disappeared from this theme. Secondly, according to the statement Head of the US National Center for Counterintelligence and Security William Evanina, not only Russia, but also China and Iran are trying to influence voters. At the same time, according to Evanina, if Russia is trying to undermine the position of Joe Biden, then China and Iran are trying to prevent the election of President Donald Trump. New Director of US National Intelligence John Ratcliffe and at all saidthat the threat from China is much more serious than the Russian one. Third, numerous attempts by non-professionals to discuss this topic and to absolutize the external threat have led to discrediting the topic of foreign intervention as such.
5. The fifth feature of the current elections was extreme polarization American society, which some researchers compare with the Cold Civil War. The social split, which is gaining momentum every year, today has reached such a level of intolerance that the adherents of the democratic and republican camps began to see in the representatives of the other camp not political opponents, but existential threat for yourself and the country. Both speak of their opponents as "enemies" whose goal is to "destroy America."
At the same time, the American elites, interested in the maximum mobilization of their electorate, are ready to justify any manifestations of extremes on their "side" and play on the deepest fears so as not to lose votes. Thus, they only intensify polarization, continuing to play the already painful card of racial and other contradictions and simultaneously demonizing opponents.
All these tendencies lead to the fact that the fears of experts and law enforcement officers about possible unrest after voting day, unfortunately, look quite reasonable. Be that as it may, the pre-election struggle this time promises to be especially intense.
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