"Until 2016, it was universally accepted that the US was the leader of the free world."
November 3, 2020 will be Election Day in the United States. Tens of millions of Americans will go to the polling stations to select a president, a vice president, one third of the Senate, the entire House of Representatives and all high state officials. However, given the outcome of the 2016 elections, the issues in the US government and the world geopolitical situation, US Election Day might as well be—nay, ought to be—World Election Day.
The reason for this is that so much is riding, for the world, on the outcome of the US elections—specifically on whether Republican President Donald Trump would be re-elected, or whether his challenger Joseph Biden of the Democratic Party would be elected.
Indeed, the November 3 electoral event is for the world the most important US election since the end of World War II. Up until the 2016 election, it was universally accepted that the US was the leader of the free world, the builder and driving force of democratic alliances and multi-lateral institutions, the promoter of globalization and shining beacon of hope for millions of people around the world who dream of a better life. After four years of Donald Trump’s presidency, that has ceased to be the case.
The four years of the Trump administration have thrown the free world into near-disarray. Washington has pulled out, or threatened to pull out, of alliances and international institutions founded with US inspiration and support. It has either cozied up to, or refused to condemn, undemocratic foreign governments. It has virtually shut the door to millions of people trying to gain legal entry into the US in order to pursue the American Dream. It has turned its back on a climate-change accord that the administration of President Barack Obama, backed by the full weight of scientific evidence, helped to craft.
If November 3, 2020 were World Election Day, if the people of the world were allowed to fill out an American ballot, they almost certainly will vote against the presidential candidate who made all the bad geopolitical decisions of the last four years and for the candidate who has pledged to reverse them.
The number-one target for reversal of non-US citizens, if they were allowed to vote on November 3, would almost certainly be America’s withdrawal from the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Donald Trump apparently has never believed in climate change and environmental degradation, so his administration’s first major foreign policy decision was to get the US out of the Paris accord. The conflagrations in America’s Pacific states, the horrendous hurricanes that have devastated Puerto Rico and New Orleans, the increasingly frequent droughts in the Midwest and similar natural disasters have done nothing to convince Mr. Trump that global warming is not a figment of scientists’ imagination. Considering that the US has the largest carbon footprint in the world—logical, because it is the world’s largest economy – an American return to the Paris Agreement is imperative.
Another geopolitical policy change that a World Election Day voter would likely vote against would be the Trump policy of needlessly offending America’s traditional allies —like Germany, Canada and Mexico—and not condemning, and even condoning, the bad behavior of non-traditional, not-traditionally-ally countries like Russia, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
As the world’s most powerful nation, the US must continually have the moral high ground. Under Donald Trump, the US has come down from that place.
A non-American allowed to cast a ballot on November 3 is bound to also want to put an end to the Trump administration’s policy of de-prioritizing the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. So suspicious of Donald Trump’s real attitude toward NATO are Western security analysts’ fear that the American president would pull the US out of NATO if re-elected. There has been no world war since 1945; to NATO must largely go to the credit for that long period of world peace. Donald Trump’s unwillingness to criticize or condemn Russia for anything makes sense when seen in the context of Russia’s intense interest in rendering NATO ineffective.
Finally, a non-American citizen of the world, if allowed to participate in the November 3 political exercise, would surely want to cast his or her ballot for the candidate who would put an end to the racist, anti-outsider and xenophobic immigration policy of the Trump administration. The words of welcome inscribed in the Statue of Liberty must be given renewed meaning on November 3.
For all the things that America has lost in the world during the Trump administration – prestige, influence and moral leadership – and all the good things that need to be restored. November 3, 2020 should not just be US Election Day. It should be World Election Day.