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With the shocking news that President Trump has contracted Coronavirus, we all await to see what impact this will have on the US election. At present, Trump is intending to continue his Presidential duties but we can only wait to see what impact the virus has on his health.

The reality is the President of the US is the leader of the free world. It’s not that the US can interfere with the sovereignty of individual nations, but its economic might and media reach means that its influence, even in the most remote villages around the world, is unsurpassed. When the US President takes a bold stand, whether this be calling out China on its need to shoulder responsibility for the Coronavirus outbreak, or challenging negative globalism, it gives other countries, including Australia, the courage to do likewise. The health of the US economy has the greatest impact on the world economy and Australia’s prospects of post-pandemic economic recovery will inevitably be effected by how the US fares. In short, what happens in the US this election will have a great effect on Australia.

When Trump gave his State of the Union Address in February, 76 per cent of viewers approved of it. This was just before the Coronavirus took hold and derailed the good work achieved in the preceding three and a quarter years of Trump’s four year term.

At his State of the Union address, Trump announced that since 2017 his administration had achieved record tax cuts, created 7 million new jobs and the unemployment rate was the lowest in over half a century. It is this track record Trump should rely on as the evidence-base for why he is best placed to rebuild the US economy.

First Debate

After the first presidential debate this week, a CBS News/YouGov poll found that 48% of viewers in swing states thought Biden won and 41 per cent thought Trump had won. A CNN poll had Biden the winner with 60% of viewers and Trump only having the support of 28 per cent of viewers.

Worldwide, economies have suffered and gone into recession as a result of Coronavirus restrictions. Yet, at the presidential debate, Trump fired up against Biden on his university grades, his son’s substance misuse, every personal attack under the sun, but failed to rebut Biden’s outrageous accusation that Trump was mismanaging the economy and had caused an economic recession.

What Trump should have challenged Biden on was the fact that he never suggested how he would have handled the economy differently at any point after his nomination as the Democrat’s candidate, including during the debate itself.

Trump should rest his case for re-election on the basis that, without his work strengthening the economy and creating jobs pre-pandemic, the US would have suffered far worse and their capacity to re-build, would be significantly diminished. What the US needs to recover as swiftly as possible is a president who understands business first hand; who can get business back on its feet and people back into employment. On this basis, Trump should have this election in the bag.

Trump & White Supremacists

Instead, commentary after the debate bought into the image Democrats perpetually try to cultivate – that Trump is a racist. The media jumped on Trump stating: “Proud Boys – stand back and stand by”, as proof that he supported white supremacists.

The following day, when questioned further by reporters, Trump said of Proud Boys: “I don’t know who they are. I can only say they have to stand down and let law enforcement do their work.” And when asked if he welcomed white supremacist support, he said: “I’ve always denounced any form, any form of any of that.”

In politics, if you repeat a line long enough, people start to believe it. And this is what the Democrats have done with the line “Trump is racist”. It ignores the fact that Trump has many non-white supporters, and guests to his own wedding to the First Lady included P. Diddy, Don King, Russell Simmons, Shaquille O’Neal, Star Jones, Julie Chen and other people of colour – a strange thing for an alleged racist.

What the media also do not focus on is that, in addition to white militia groups in the US, there are also black militia groups. The difficulty for Trump in dealing with any of these groups is the US Constitution’s Second Amendment which states: ‘A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.’ If Trump were to take any interventionist action to stop militia groups, he would be infringing the constitutionally enshrined freedom of his people. All Trump can lawfully do is ask the police to perform their job, to ensure that no laws are broken by any militia group. And on that front, Trump has called for: “law and order to be a very important part of our campaign”. Trump should contrast his position with Biden’s ambiguous plan to “reimagine policing”.

Despite all that is said about Trump, his actions tell us an astonishingly different story – that Trump could in fact be the most peace loving, egalitarian President in US history.

Pre-pandemic, under Trump 10 million people were lifted off welfare, he achieved the lowest African-American youth unemployment rate ever and the unemployment rate for women also reached an all-time low in almost 70 years.

In Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, she ran the same attack lines that Trump was divisive and racist. She said: “This is not someone who should ever have the nuclear codes because it’s not hard to imagine Donald Trump leading us into a war just because somebody got under his very thin skin.”

Trump the Peace Maker?

In his four years, Trump never started a war. What Trump has done is hold a historic meeting with North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, last year to begin discussions on nuclear disarmament, and he was able to attain Chinese and Russian support in this endevour. In February, he made a deal with the Taliban to bring peace to Afghanistan, and if the Taliban upholds the historic deal and do not allow al-Qaeda or another extremist group to operate in their controlled areas, Trump will withdraw all US troops by April 2020.

Last month, Trump made history again, brokering peace deals between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. For his ground breaking work, he has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. As Senior Policy Analyst at the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council, Jamie Hyams, said: “Under Obama it wouldn’t have happened because he just had a different perspective. … the way he conducted himself didn’t really engender confidence whereas I think the gulf states appreciate Trump’s approach more.”

While Obama and Biden, campaigned on peace and unity, as Biden continues to do, their rhetoric never matched their actions. Theirs was the administration under which US troops were at war for their entire eight years in power; the same administration which launched airstrikes or military raids in at least 7 countries – Afghanistan, Iraq, Lybia, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.

Trump is fighting this election campaign like he did in 2016, where he was a candidate and not the President. As the incumbent, his greatest campaign tool is not character assassination of his opponent, but his own track record. With a media that is largely unfriendly, if Trump doesn’t spruik his own achievements and, at every opportunity talk about his positive plan to build on them, no one else will. Now suffering Coronavirus one month before the election, this challenge is even greater.

Karina Okotel is a former Vice President of both the Federal and Victorian Divisions of the Liberal Party. She currently lectures post-graduate Law students at The College of Law and previously worked as a Senior Civil Lawyer at Victoria Legal Aid as well as in community law and the international aid sector. Karina has volunteered extensively both locally and overseas on the Thai-Myanmar border and in Uganda where she met her husband.

A new episode of The Weekly Wrap Up discussing the big issues of the week is released every Friday evening.

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