Americans will face a moment of reset in presidential elections: Rasool

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Americans will face a moment of reset when they go to the polls in presidential elections this November. That’s the view of South Africa’s former Ambassador to Washington Ebrahim Rasool as Republicans kick off their National Convention later Monday where they will nominate President Donald Trump for a second term. 

The former top diplomat to the United States believes Democrats must frame the election as a referendum on the incumbent and could do the world a favour with how they vote in 70 days.

In the audio below, SABC News’ Sherwin Bryce-Pease chats with Ebrahim Rasool:


“Biden and Kamala Harris may need to get out of their own way and to say this is more of a referendum than an election. We may be the most imperfect candidates like Hillary may have been but at this point, what’s on the ballot paper is do you want four more years of this kind of leadership in which we defund the World Health Organisation and we compete to get the vaccine only for ourselves – if it comes. Is this the time for example for us to enter this war, this trade war with China and jeopardise the world economy. These are the issues at stake, that’s on the ballot paper,” suggests Rasool.

Rasool says the COVID-19 pandemic has illuminated many of the country’s ills and has left voters at a crossroads.

Ironically, hope for the country and hope for the world comes out of the fundamental rupture that COVID-19 has brought about. You’ve always had systemic racism in the US, but the added burden, the added assault on lives and livelihoods brought upon by this virus, COVID-19, has almost been a tipping point; the last straw that could break the camels back. And so I think that the reason that we saw those protests was precisely that for the first time African Americans were blown out of their complacency by the fact that they couldn’t afford healthcare when they needed it. By the fact that they were only 15% of the population but 30% of the deaths, 30% of the infections. And I think that is having a devastating effect on people who may meekly have accepted their lot in life but have now been moved to urgency”.

Despite lagging in the polls, President Trump enjoys the benefit of incumbency – all three his predecessors Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama each securing second terms – and he will seek a boost from this week’s convention as he lays out his vision for the country.

“I don’t think unity will be the result of what comes out of November, whoever wins but what I do think is, it’s a moment of recoil, hopefully, a moment of recoil in which – if there Democrats were to win – they could push the reset button and say we need the chance to rebuild bridges with fellow Americans who may have been alienated. At the same time if the Republicans win, I’m hoping that’s a wake-up call for Republicans who are moderate, who are non-extreme, who have a memory of a decent, civil party, that added to the debates in the US but at this point, I think that the rump of the Republican party has their fortunes tied to the fortunes of Donald Trump and someone needs to release them from that hostage-taking situation that they find themselves in.”

Rasool, echoing the view that American Presidential elections have global implications, adds: “If we get this moment of reset right we have an opportunity to turn around even by degrees only the situation in the Middle East, Africa coming from the margins to the centre, the ability for China to not feel the need to enter a trade war with the USA and the ability for Americans and Europeans to find their centre again and for them to be good again in this world”.

President Trump is expected to speak on each of the four convention nights this week hoping to cut into Biden’s almost 10-point lead nationally. Trump’s acceptance of his party’s nomination is scheduled for Thursday.