How Trump divided a nation but united the Democrats

The Democratic convention showcased the togetherness of a party once fractured by disagreements between Bernie Sanders’ progressive wing and the centrist-moderate wing led by Joe Biden. But even if Trump is voted out, will he accept the result?

Watching the virtual conventions of the Democratic and Republican parties in the United States, I was blown away especially by how President Donald Trump has achieved the feat of unifying the Democratic Party.

It had been clear for some time that the Democratic Party was fractured, with the progressive wing led by Senator Bernie Sanders on one side and the moderate-centrist wing, led by former vice-president Joe Biden, on the other. Nonetheless, now the party has nominated Biden, with Sanders’ support, Democrats of all stripes are uniting under a single banner: defeat Trump in his bid for a second term. They have the support of many moderate Republicans who dislike Trump or his policies.

Their fury at Trump was demonstrated by former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and secretary of state, four-star general Colin Powell, former New Jersey governor Christine Whitman, former Ohio governor John Kasich and former congresswoman Susan Molinari. They were scathing in their criticism of Trump – their reason for supporting Biden.

The Democratic roll call of the 57 states and US territories to formally choose the nominee was an impressive showcase of the American story – America’s diversity, but with a bridge spanning different ethnic, cultural and political sectors that help them come together.

A video about the friendship between the late Republican senator John McCain and Biden confirmed it. It highlighted that notwithstanding their political differences and allegiance to opposing parties, they remained close friends, and worked together on issues they agreed were important to America’s interests. Affordable health care was a prime example.

The Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans, now united, are showing the world that Americans can work together.

At the Republican convention, Trump’s Republicans were also united – in their determination to keep him in the White House with their “America first” accolades of Trumps “greatest” achievements. They portrayed “Sleepy” Joe “Beijing” Biden as unfit for the White House. To them, Biden is the radical left’s socialist Trojan Horse who will turn America, the land of the free, into a socialist utopia.

Like it or not, Trump and his policies are the catalyst that brought both parties together, separately. The country remains divided, but it now appears that each party has found in the wreckage the reason to unite.

Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng calls on support for Trump at US Republican National Convention

Both political parties and their candidates blame each other for their response to the Covid-19 pandemic, racism, social unrest and a long list of other issues. These same reasons are also driving Americans to rethink and reunite. It makes this campaign the most bitter and cruel, magnifying and reflecting America’s “cancel culture” – a soul-searching political journey that brings to the boil many long-simmering issues such as gun control, health care, climate change, education, renter’s rights, policing and racism

As a real-time backdrop to the Republican convention, the paralysing shots a white police officer fired into the back of Jacob Blake, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, triggered nights of civil unrest, with buildings set on fire, scuffles among anti-racism protesters and armed police supporters, and a 17-year-old shooting three people and killing two of them.

America’s professional sports leagues, including baseball, the  NBA, WNBA and NFL, have protested against Blake’s shooting by postponing games or cancelling practice. Players reaffirmed their support of the Black Lives Matter movement and speaking out against racial injustice.

Meanwhile, scenes caught on video of protesters confronting Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, his wife and two guests, while leaving the White House after listening to Trump’s nomination acceptance speech, went viral. Needless to say, while protesters vented their anger with violence, for Republicans, it became a powerful political advertisement as it showed protesters wantonly resorting to mayhem.

Politics and political strategy in the US have shifted a lot since Barack Obama’s presidency. Today, partisan rancour dominates. Trump last month threatened to refuse funding for the US Postal Service for the speedy processing of mail-in ballots, while talking about the possibility of fraud when voting by mail. Many believe postal votes are vital because of the Covid-19 travel restrictions across the country.

What would happen if Trump lost the election and refused to accept the results or vacate the White House, based on his stand on mail-in ballots?

It could lead, inevitably, to a constitutional crisis for the Supreme Court to deal with. The ensuing legal battles would rupture society even more. Such an eventuality during the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting economic meltdown – not to mention the possibility of a hot war with China – could trigger more deadly confrontations on America’s streets than we are already seeing.

Thanks to Trump, who united the protagonists and pitched them against each other, it will be another episode of his political reality show.

Peter G. de Krassel is a Hong Kong-based political analyst, contemporary social commentator, author of the Custom Maid series of books and blogs.

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