George Floyd, 46, a black man died after a white police officer, named Derek Chauvin, held him down by lodging him down by a knee on his neck for almost nine minutes. He lapsed into unconsciousness saying, “I can’t breathe” and died shortly afterwards. His death came as the latest one in the line of killings of African-Americans by American law enforcement personnel. This incident sparked nationwide protests over systematic racism, unequal treatment of Black Americans and police brutality.
These protests are expected to impact the upcoming Presidential elections in the USA which is due in November 2020. The race issue in US Presidential elections has now become equally important as health care and the economy. According to a CNN poll, “With 42% of Americans calling race relations significant to their vote for president this fall”. There is a demographic split in the votes, where 61% black voters in 2020 say that it is imperative to prioritize race relations which is a jump from 34% in 2015. The opinion also varies between the followers of political parties as 60% of the Democrats and democratic-leaning independent voters and 18% of the Republicans and Republic-leaning voters have said that race relations are extremely important.
President Trump opposed the protests very strongly and even threatened to send federal troops into the states to curb the protests. He came up with a series of tweets on the protests which shocked the young people of America into action and went global very soon. One of these tweets read: “Get tough Democrat Mayors and Governors,”. Referring to Biden, he added: “These people are ANARCHISTS. Call in our National Guard NOW. The World is watching and laughing at you and Sleepy Joe. Is this what America wants? NO!!!”.
President Donald Trump will have a formidable opponent in former Vice President Joe Biden who is Democratic Party candidate in the Presidential elections. Joe Biden has a good following among the Black-American voters Recently, in an interview, Biden said: “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.”
The tweets and other statements of Trump invoking the spectre of lawlessness and turmoil are seen as a ploy to get back suburban voters who were disgusted by his handling of the pandemic by. A law and order crisis also allows Trump to go back to his 2016 campaign, where the campaign video reads “President Trump’s not always polite. Mr Nice Guy won’t cut it.” Trump has arguably benefited from the fact that his mishandling of the pandemic was pushed out of the picture with the media coverage of protests and riots.
On the other hand, Joe Biden, in his speech said “I won’t traffic in fear and division. I won’t fan the flames of hate. I’ll seek to heal the racial wounds that have long plagued our country, not use them for political gain. I’ll do my job, and I’ll take responsibility — I won’t blame others”. Biden is also promising to address the lack of racial equality under the law, which might give his potential presidency a reform, and something that could unite the Democratic Left fully behind him.
At the moment, there is a rise in Voter registrations, volunteer activities and donations for groups that are linked to democratic causes. The surge in registration could be beneficial to the Democratic Party candidate Joe Biden. However, the presidential election is still over four months away and Trump’s campaign is well-funded with the backing of conservative media and loyal followings. To keep up the current narrative and build on the support on its back is going to be a herculean task for Biden’s campaign team.