By Hallum Cowell | Deputy Editor
Trump and Biden are both hopeful for victory in the coming election and are continuing to push their message and draw in voters.
In mid-September, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a key liberal member of the Supreme Court, died of cancer. The appointment of a new judge, and whether one should be appointed at all before the election, has become an issue of hot debate.
President Donald Trump was taken ill with COVID-19 on October 3 and spent three nights at the Walter Reed National Military Center before returning to the White House.
Joe Biden and Donald Trump held their first debate on September 29, which covered topics such as the economy, protests and the coronavirus pandemic, mixed with a level of interruptions and insults rarely seen at this level of debate.
Ginsburg and the Supreme Court
In the United States, appointment to the Supreme Court is a lifelong job, and the death or retirement of a Supreme Court Justice means a race for the new appointment to the court. As such, when Ruth Baber Ginsburg passed away on September 19, the mourning of a key political figure was punctured by the beginnings of a political battle.
The US Supreme Court holds nine Justices. The Justices are commonly divided into two camps, the Liberal and the Conservatives. These factions are often aligned in their interpretations of the US Constitution, though all judges respect clear matters of law.
Before Ginsburg’s death, the liberal bloc was considered to hold four judges, and the Conservative factions five. This, of course, has a huge impact on decisions made by the Supreme Court, usually resulting in rulings being decided by a 5-4 margin.
The appointment of a new judge could either maintain the status quo or give the Conservative faction a higher majority and any decisions made now would have long reaching effects.
President Trump seems intent on using his Republican dominated Senate to appoint Amy Coney Barrett as Ginsburg’s replacement, although many Democrats argue that the appointment should wait until after the upcoming election, in which Congress and a third of the Senate will be up for re-election.
Trump falls ill with COVID-19
President Trump announced on October 3 that he had been infected with COVID-19 and later travelled to Walter Reed National Military Center for treatment. On October 6 he returned to the White House to continue treatment there.
The United States of America is still one of the worst affected nations in the ongoing pandemic with 7.4 million cases and 210,000 deaths since the outbreak back in late 2019.
The President, who’s up for re-election in just under a month, was keen to capitalise on the situation. On October 5, the President released a short campaign video of him returning to the White House and recorded a video message in which he said, “don’t let [COVID-19] dominate you, don’t be afraid of it” in an effort to belay fears about the spread of the virus in the US.
The President also added, “maybe I’m immune I dunno”.
The First Presidential debate
September 29 saw the first presidential debate between incumbent Donald Trump and Presidential Hopeful Joe Biden. This was the first of three debates that will take place in the run up to the election on November 3.
More so than debates of the past, both candidates spent as much time insulting each other than they did answering the moderator’s questions.
Biden said: “You’re the worst president America has ever had”, to which Trump responded: “I’ve done more in 47 months, then you’ve done in 47 years.”
When discussing COVID-19, Biden said that “a lot more people died and a lot more are going to die unless he gets smarter, a lot quicker”. In response, Trump said: “you graduated either the lowest or almost the lowest in your class, don’t ever use the word smart with me.”
Biden went on to argue that “I know how to get the job done”, but Trump pointed to Biden’s record on Swine Flu. “Well you didn’t do very well on Swine Flu. H1N1 you were a disaster.” Biden retorted that 14,000 people died, not 200,000, and that there was no economic recession. Trump then argued that Swine Flu has been a “far less lethal disease”.
For many voters in America, the fact that Biden is opposed to Trump will be enough for them to grant him their vote come election day. There has been a clear worry from some sections of the electorate that Biden is too old for the job. In fact if he wins, he will be the oldest first term President on record. Many voters were most likely looking for Biden to show a high level of competence and composure.
Meanwhile, those in support of the the incumbent President will view his performance at the debate as strong and informed. The President embodied a persona more akin to the Trump you’d find on Twitter, taking jabs at his opponent, critiquing his personal life and values, and interrupting his opponent.
Polling after the debate revealed Biden as the clear favourite, and polling across America would seem to indicate that Biden is on his way to the White House. But, as with so many political events of the last decade, nothing is certain until it’s happened.
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