Although there is still more than a year and a half left until the presidential election on the first Tuesday of November 2020, the US election campaign has already begun.
Hillary Clinton has given up, but candidates for the Democratic party nomination are multiplying. The party of Roosevelt and Kennedy has never been so divided. It is torn between the moderate centrist wing, a Joe Biden; its socialist wing embodied by Bernie Sanders; and its new pro-minority left wing, illustrated by the “Squad” of four new deputies, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (New York), Ilhan Omar (Minnesota), Rashida Tlaib (Michigan), Ayanna Pressley (Massachussets).
The declared enemy of these four young women is the “toxicity of the white male”.
Born in Somalia and wearing the Islamic veil, Ilhan Omar was not afraid to mount a frontal attack on the Jewish lobby and, above all, the elected officials supporting the State of Israel.
The young woman lambasted their “allegiance to a foreign power” and explained that their motivation was due to the “youngest” (the $100 bill, referring to political funds donated by Jewish donors). Donald Trump immediately jumped at the opportunity, explaining in a tweet that the Democratic party had become anti-semitic.
One can blame the 45th president of the United States for many things but not for lack of political sense. On March 2, he delivered a two and a quarter hour speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). This benefit seems to have been the launch of his re-election campaign.
Without much concern for the truth, but with effective words and much gesticulation, Trump delighted his audience. With such showmanship, it is hard to see anyone who could challenge him for the Republican nomination.
To try to predict whether or not he is likely to be re-elected to the supreme office, we must examine his strengths and weaknesses.
His strengths are the support of an important electoral base, the division of the Democratic Party, the good health of the American economy, his pragmatism in foreign policy.
Trump has a base of 40 percent of US voters, which simply does not erode despite the unrelenting attacks from the traditional media. He understands that, to preserve that support, he has to give nothing up as regards his electoral promises.
He will persist with budget requests to build the wall to stop illegal migration along the Mexican border. He will ensure that the House of Representatives, now controlled by the Democrats since the November elections, carries the responsibility for non-construction of the wall.
Trump wants to appear as the champion of a mainly white America, a traditional America, that is to say Christian, nationalist, capitalist, protectionist America privileging the interests of entrepreneurs and workers.
The divisions in the Democratic Party – where Alexandria Octavio-Cortez recently called Roosevelt “racist” – will benefit Trump. Composed of the ultra-rich of the global economy (including billionaires of digital and finance), officials and underprivileged, this party can no longer keep both ends ideologically united. It is heading towards implosion.
To maintain the health of the US economy (unemployment rate at 3.8%), Trump will be pragmatic about China. If he feels that any intransigence could bring down the stock market, so he will agree to a commercial deal with Xi Jinping.
By removing American troops from the Muslim world – “where we have wasted a trillion dollars” – Trump will make very few enemies among the American electorate.
Trump’s weaknesses lie primarily in his past and in his style.
Agent of the Russians? More than two years have passed and the investigation has not yielded much that is concrete. On the other hand, if fraud were to be revealed in his old real estate activities, it would provide a perfect angle of attack for Democrats.
Incompetent? The American people judge a president more on his achievements than on his university education.
Vulgar? If a Trump campaign evening goes beyond the red line of public decency, it could permanently alienate the female electorate.
His hatred of multilateralism? It is something that worries Europeans, but very few Americans.
A year ago, the most prestigious American media told us that Trump was heading towards impeachment. Today, is he not more likely heading towards re-election?
This article was first published in Le Figaro.