Election season in the United States kicks into high gear later on Monday with the start of the Democratic National Convention that will lead to the formal naming of Joe Biden as Democratic nominee for President.
But the in-person event in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with thousands of festive delegates coronating their pick has largely been shelved due to the coronavirus with both Joe Biden and his Vice Presidential pick Kamala Harris due to accept their nominations virtually for the first time in history.
Four years since Democrats held a convention, the country is in the grips of the coronavirus pandemic that has largely confined big crowd events to the virtual arena.
Professor of History Emeritus at the City University of New York, Professor Joshua Brown says, “It’s, of course, an open question – certainly in the 20th century, the nominating conventions are really not only big business. Of course, now you have the reverberations of all these local businesses in Milwaukee not being able to take advantage from this and of course, the spectacle, the whole thing here is really about the spectacle – being in arenas, large crowds, enthusiastic crowds and multi-day.”
Minus that kind of atmosphere in 2020, organisers are planning a made-for-TV virtual event with all the major networks carrying it live for two hours each night, with a mix of entertainment and celebrity, and speeches from the who’s who of the Democratic Party – Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton and their husbands to mention a few.
And with just two and a half months before election day and a public health emergency in which over 170 000 Americans have died, the major issue shaping this election is clear.
“It should come as no surprise that a major issue is, of course, going to be the coronavirus and how terrible the Trump administration has handled, or bungled the coronavirus and then, of course, the ramifications of that which included the economy. So, I don’t think there’s any question that, that is going to be a major factor. It’s interesting to see that already the Republicans (are trying) to shift the issue away from the virus itself. In fact, Trump in his so-called press conferences now barely talks about the coronavirus and indeed, goes off on various diversions,” says Brown.
On the issues of main-in voting, Professor Brown, says, “We’ve had mail-in voting since at least the civil war and it worked quite well in the midst of perhaps the greatest emergency in US history. I think that one has to already consider that the presentation that Trump has made about contrasting mail-in voting as opposed to absentee ballots and his, of course, claims about fraud aren’t proven at all in terms of fraud.”
With the latest polling consistently showing Joe Biden with at least a 9-point lead nationally over the president, Professor Brown, asked if this was Biden’s race to lose, says, “I wouldn’t say that. Perhaps, I’ve just grown pessimistic by the number of times I’ve awakened the next morning or late that night having not slept to find out that my expectations have been completely undermined.”
The convention will build up over four nights until Joe Biden accepts his party’s nomination late on Thursday.
Sherwin Bryce-Pease weighs in on the US Election season: