Republican and Democratic party candidates have been preparing since 2016
for one of the most anticipated elections in history. However, as the months dwindle down to November, the entire world has come to a halt due to the Coronavirus. It’s no surprise to many globally that the coronavirus has had a wide range of effects, not only infecting thousands worldwide, but leading to a crash in the stock market, quarantine implementations by many major cities, and the cancellation of most workplaces and education institutions.
It has led to a global panic struggling to be addressed by world leaders due its rapid spread and severity. Bernie Sander’s sudden exit from the race on April 8th has marked a major turning point, the race now limited to Republican candidate and current U.S. President Donald Trump, and Democratic candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden.
To address the primary issue at hand, the New York Times perfectly sums it up by stating,
“The virus has fundamentally transformed political life in America, affecting how candidates communicate with voters, raise money from donors, and confront their opponents.”NY Times, “how coronavirus has transformed elections across the u.s.”
Many major cities and governments have recently banned any gatherings with more than ten people in a spacious area, with an underlying preference that most citizens remain in their homes. A primary facet to the election is the major rallies that candidates organises to give speeches and further motivate their supporters, who gather in groups of thousands at stadiums and arenas to listen and support. These gatherings have now been strictly prohibited, so the masses of groups wearing MAGA hats or Biden For President signs will no longer be a major force in the propelling of candidate campaigns.
Furthermore, public attention has been directed entirely towards the virus.
Several months ago, 2020 was the year of the new president. Now, the Coronavirus has surpassed the election as the most important current global event. This means that without the utmost attention of voters, campaign progression has become stagnant.
What might this mean for the election?
Candidate figures are now earning attention through addressing the current economic downfall causing millions of lost jobs, as well as the public healthcare crisis leaving hospitals with no room left and overworked nurses. Additionally, the virus threatens employment for many as people are being asked to refrain from working, leaving them payless and potentially jobless. Candidate performances to address these current issues and take action will play an immense role in the elections, if not become the new definition of their campaign.
As we enter the age of a full blown pandemic, our current U.S. president has already undergone fire.
He initially avoided cautionary social distancing and mandatory virus testing after having been in the same space as someone who contracted the virus. He then refused to impose major federal and national laws until recently accusing the World Health Organization (WHO) of supposedly getting “every aspect” of the virus wrong, then threatening to withhold funding from the international organization itself.
Trump has further received criticism in regards to titling COVID-19, the “Chinese Virus”, sparking concerns over the build up of xenophobia in the U.S. and globally against Chinese and Southeast Asians. As the President begins to incrementally take more steps in implementing Coronavirus preventative laws, people also begin to worry about the possibility of abused powers. The Guardian well summarises this, stating,
“…We have seen that this President is willing to abuse emergency powers, and to use them for political gains. And so we have to worry.”Elizabeth goiten, co-director of the liberty and national security program at the brennan center for justice, quoted in can trump be trusted not to abuse his coronavirus emergency powers? by the guardian
For us as students at Singapore American School, we are ourselves direct subjects of the effects of the virus, as our days out of school and in the home seem to never end. Even across the world, we are witnesses of the election, and subjects of the effects of it. Everyday that passes contributes towards this revolutionary election, asking new questions about the constantly shifting dynamics. It is now up to the people to vote and try their best to segregate the conflicts of the election with that of the ever-growing COVID-19 pandemic.