In the run up to the US presidential election, Americans are sick and dying in larger numbers, more than in any other country, from coronavirus.
As the stock market took another massive plunge in reaction to the COVID-19 economy days to the election, it is a surprise that the incumbent president is still competitive in the polls.
As President Donald Trump squares off with political die-hard, former Vice President Joe Biden, both still have a pathway to power and not anyone dare predict the election will go in a particular way.
Four years ago, as an underdog,
President Trump stunned pundits when he waltzed to victory over former US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.
A few gave him any chance. Aftershocks from that earthquake of an election are still felt today.
As a lesson learned, the polls have become academic.
Pundits are particularly unwilling to make a bet against Donald Trump.
At this same point in 2016, Hillary Clinton led in the polls, giving a false comfort to Democrats when 20 per cent of the voters had not decided.
This prudence by watchers notwithstanding, Joe Biden has consistently led in the polls and there is a cautious optimism that Trump would not only be defeated, but he could drag Republican candidates on the down ballot into a sinkhole that would cost his party the Senate majority.
Should Trump win, the impact of such a victory will be determined by the party that controls the Senate
Democrats are envisioning a nirvana on Election Day, but they dare not celebrate yet.
Adding wind to their sails are the addition of millions of new eligible voters that tend to be more progressive, a smaller percentage of undecideds, high voter enthusiasm and unprecedent early and mail-in voting.
Biden is also on a roll, beating Trump in fundraising, apart from his strong showing during the debates.
The result is a trend from red to blue in traditional Republican states such as Texas, Georgia and South Carolina. Trump is left defending, instead of expanding, his turf.
The biggest issue for the incumbent remains COVID-19.
He keeps repeating the virus can be ignored when nine million infections, leading to 230,000 deaths, have been recorded.
It is hard for Americans to trust Trump with such a high death rate at a time when the economy remains shattered and shuttered.
It appears the writing is now on the wall for Donald Trump.
His behaviour is that of a loser, as continues to find legal obstruction to voting laws, even after declaring he would not accept the result, except he wins.
Some have said that Trump’s fear is that he could be tried for various crimes committed before he became president after his term, including tax evasion and the use of false records.
He has confirmed owing banks as much as $500m and speculations are that creditors would swing in for collection without the protection of political power.
Many believe Trump is ready to throw America into a political crisis because of his personal problems and the only way to stop it is a landslide by the Democrats.
Should Trump win, the impact of such a victory will be determined by the party that controls the Senate. If the Senate remains under Republican rule, then expect more of the same from past four years or worse – since he would be freed from the restraint of a first term.
If Biden loses and the Democrats control the Senate and the House of Representatives, Trump will be tamed but not completely demobilised.
In the area of foreign policy, Trump will still call the shots, because American law gives a president a lot of power in guiding its foreign relations.
Trump’s power on domestic policy may dwindle, but he will have enough power to pursue the same agenda that have clearly ignored African development and imposed severe immigration restrictions on Africans.
The Trump administration is already working towards restricting Africans from entering the United States, including those who now qualify for four-year degree courses.
Economic cooperation and aid to Africa may continue to decline in quantity and quality.
Hostility to Africans in leading international organisations, as demonstrated by US opposition to Nigerian candidates at the African Development Bank and the World Trade Organisation, will likely continue.
If Joe Biden wins, Africa may not be his first priority, but the continent will find a good friend and listener.
If Biden loses and the Democrats control the Senate and the House of Representatives, Trump will be tamed but not completely demobilised
Unlike Trump, Biden is well versed in international relations. Apart from taking on big diplomatic tasks as Vice President, Biden is a former chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Biden will have a challenge to woo America’s old friends and tackle some big missteps of the Trump administration.
The big issues include rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement and the World Health Organisation, mending European alliances, strengthening NATO, containing the coronavirus pandemic, nuclear proliferation, terrorism and the disruptive impacts of new technologies. Such items will come first on his menu.
At the proper time, however, a Biden presidency will likely revive Obama’s policy towards Africa.
Obama initiated a new US-Africa policy that aimed to shift focus from aid to business.
While President Trump has no African development agenda and has never shown an interest to step on the African soil, President Obama visited several African nations in office, increased aid and established military outposts in Africa.
His direct engagement to rid the continent of Ebola virus by sending US troops to Africa remains a signature of his policy towards Africa.
If Biden wins, not only would the “trade not aid” policy come back to life, all the immigration policies of the Trump presidency that are antagonistic towards Africans and the Third World will likely be reversed through the same executive order instruments, and possibly new laws in a Democratic congress.
Africa will certainly get some attention, and the possibility that the Chinese will face some competition as the US will likely adopt a strategy that is emptied of bluster and infused with policies to engage a rising power that has occupied Africa.