Editorial | US elections: A chance to reset

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A person sleeps in front of a screen displaying election coverage in Times Square, Manhattan, New York City, US. Picture: Andrew Kelly/Reuters
A person sleeps in front of a screen displaying election coverage in Times Square, Manhattan, New York City, US. Picture: Andrew Kelly/Reuters

VOICES


Americans have just emerged from one of the most complex, unpredictable and stressful elections they have endured in decades.

For a while after the polls on Tuesday, the US was no different from many of the developing countries whose democratic credentials they constantly question – the country could not complete the counting of votes, faced claims of rigging, and last-minute court applications and rejection of results were the order of the day.

At the time of writing, Democratic party candidate Joe Biden was on the verge of victory after incumbent Donald Trump failed in several court challenges to have the counting of votes in certain areas stopped.

While the results have shown that even if he loses, there is still considerable appetite for Trump in the country, the rest of the world will be heaving a huge sigh of relief.

Measures to mitigate the spread of the virus have paralysed economies as countries introduced hard lockdowns that prohibited movement of people and goods.

With his inward-looking policy of America First, Trump had turned his back on the rest of the world and focused on appeasing his core base.

With Biden in office, the world will be hoping that the superpower that was the US will return to play a constructive leadership role in multilateral institutions.

Read: Joe Biden, a long-time fixture in US politics, seeks to win elusive prize

The current biggest challenge the world over is the Covid-19 pandemic, which has infected millions and killed hundreds of thousands.

Measures to mitigate the spread of the virus have paralysed economies as countries introduced hard lockdowns that prohibited movement of people and goods.

South Africa in particular will expect that the former foe of the apartheid regime will pick up where Barack Obama left off and forge an enduring and mutually beneficial relationship.

With his denialism, Trump hampered the fight against Covid-19 in his country, and we hope that Biden will deliver on his promise for a science-driven approach to the virus.

Trump also undermined the work of the World Health Organisation by withdrawing from the institution – which is the forefront of fighting the global pandemic – and cutting its funding.

Read | ‘Disgrace’ and a ‘mess’: Africans taken aback by US election turmoil

America and the rest of the world will be hoping that Trump’s openly racist and discriminatory policies will be a thing of the past.

Biden would be expected to re-enter the Paris Agreement on climate change. Africa will no longer be regarded as a forgettable s**thole if Biden’s past dealings with the continent are anything to by.

South Africa in particular will expect that the former foe of the apartheid regime will pick up where Barack Obama left off and forge an enduring and mutually beneficial relationship.


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