In My View
It’s decision-making time for Americans
With U.S. presidential election just a few days away, both President Donald Trump and former U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden have geared up their campaign to a frantic level to reach out to as many Americans as possible across the country in the final push for votes.
But the two leaders are delivering two very different kinds of messages - one for dividing Americans and the other for uniting them. President Donald Trump's messages principally target at his own base, ignoring most Americans while the Democratic candidate Joe Biden's messages aim at all Americans, not just his party loyalists.
And at the heart of their messages lies the ongoing pandemic of COVID-19. Keeping himself as usually far from the realities, President Trump continues to insist that it is merely a media-generated hoax which is nothing serious. On the contrary, his political rival Joe Biden says COVID-19 is deadly which is killing hundreds of Americans and infecting thousands every day.
By and large, Americans aren't happy with the way President Trump is handling the pandemic which is ravaging virtually the entire country. But the president and his White House officials continue to claim that they have been dealing with the virus in a much better way than many countries. The situation would have been far worse under any other administration, they say.
However, the media coverage of the worst ever pandemic America has experienced in many decades completely contradicts the assertions of the Trump administration which Trump doesn't like. So, he lashes out at the media calling them "fake news," a phrase he himself coined. His latest attack against the media over its coverage of COVID-19 came at a rally in Wisconsin on October 27.
"COVID, COVID, COVID�I don't like it in many cases. You will not hear about this from November 4 (the day after the U.S. presidential election)," he mocked media to the cheers of many of his hardcore supporters who attended his rally. Trump does have reasons to hate media coverage of COVID-19-because it is hurting him politically. Media's continued, extensive and justified coverage of the pandemic has been turning voters against him.
Even though the Trump administration is downplaying the pandemic, America is the worst-hit country in the world with the death toll now crossing another grim milestone of one quarter of a million. In just one day on Oct. 28, the deadly virus infected 74,410 people and killed 983more. The second wave of COVID-19 has brought an alarming spike in the rate of infection in 37 states and over the last few days, the virus infected 75,000 Americans daily on an average.
Like many other U.S. media outlets, CNN revealed the information on the current spike in coronavirus cases in America. Renowned U.S. physicians and public health experts interviewed by the news channel expressed their common concern over the rising rate of infection in many states and a correspondent reports that if the spike continues through the end of the month, as many as 100,000 Americans will be infected daily.
In view of this alarming situation, CNN itself has started running an ad promoting wearing of facemasks for protection from the deadly virus. Currently, there are 8.9 million Americans who contracted coronavirus. Even five staff members of the office of U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence have tested positive for COVID-19. Yet, President Donald Trump and his administration do not appear to be much concerned about the disease.
In fact, they continue to downplay the pandemic even though President Trump himself, First Lady Melania Trump and some White House officials already suffered and recovered from COVID-19.The fact is whatever Trump says, his base listens. So, there are many Americans who believe in him do not take this virus seriously. Only 30 percent people put on facemasks at Trump's two campaign rallies in Wisconsin and Michigan on October 27 as reported by CNN.
As the media continue their extensive coverage of COVID-19, Trump continues his relentless attack against them. However, analysts say that it would be better for the president if he had been forthcoming on the disease, which has already killed 227,000 Americans and infected as many as 8.9 million more people. His honest and candid confessions about the impact of the deadly virus on American life and economy would probably make many swing voters cast their ballots for him.
Instead the president continues to minimize the gravity of the pandemic even though it is taking a heavy toll on American lives and economy. Meanwhile, defending the media, former U.S. President Barack Obama shot back at Trump saying "he is jealous of media's coverage of COVID-19." Obama just hit the ground running campaigning for his former Vice-President Joe Biden in various U.S. cities in a similar way he campaigned for Hillary Clinton before the last presidential election in 2016.
Currently, thirty-three American states require people to wear face coverings in public places. And in the midst of the second wave of the pandemic, New York City which was ever known as the "city that never sleeps at night" suspended all non-essential services from 8 pm every night since October 27 in a bid to curb the virus. However, President Donald Trump keeps saying that they are "rounding the corner" while the White House just released a statement declaring that the "COVID-19 is ending."
There is no doubt that COVID-19 is going to play a significant role in the U.S. presidential election. So, both Trump and Biden have reassured Americans that they have plans to combat the virus. Many believe that Trump's poor handling of the pandemic may cost him his re-election. However, the White House officials say that when re-elected, President Trump will continue his work on developing a vaccine as quickly as possible and restore normal life in America.
Meanwhile, Joe Biden's campaign has blamed the Trump administration for not having a plan to combat coronavirus and said that if elected, Biden will make COVID-19 tests freely and widely available across America by establishing at least 10 mobile testing sites in each state. Biden also plans to amend the Public Health Services Act so that the people will not be charged for COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatment. His campaign said Biden has asked every state governor to make wearing of facemasks mandatory.
In this election, America is experiencing a record number of early voting. About 70 million people have already cast their ballots, which is more than double the number of people who voted in the 2016 election. The way the early voting is continuing, it may hit a record-smashing 100 million by the Election Day. There are two probable reasons for such a high number of early voting in this year's election. First, COVID-19 - many people are taking the opportunity of mail-in ballots so that they can avoid voting in person and secondly Trump who himself is activating voters on both sides.
If Joe Biden wins the election on Tuesday, he will become the president of all Americans and quickly heal and unite a fractured nation. Americans will come together and America will be America again. However, if Donald Trump is re-elected, the status quo will continue and the nation will also continue to be divided.
The writer is a Toronto-based journalist who also writes for the Toronto Sun and Canada's Postmedia Network