The confusion over the US election results is damaging the country’s image, former diplomats KC Singh and Rakesh Sood said in conversation with Prabhu Chawla, Editorial Director, The New Indian Express, and senior journalist Kaveree Bamzai, at TNIE Expressions, a series of live webcasts with prominent people.
“This is the not the first time it’s happening. It happened previously in 2000 when Al Gore was going to concede and then he took it back. That got very messy because the Florida Supreme Court allowed counting but the US Supreme Court decided to step in and most legal experts say the latter had no locus standi. In the case of the current election, Donald Trump has been delegitimising the votes in the blue wall. He has taken the tension to the streets.
He may have realised that postal ballots, which are 80 per cent Democrat favouring, may have swung Pennsylvania or Massachusetts,” Singh said. Sood said the change in the image has not come with Trump and is decades old. “It began in the 1980s... The Republicans have undergone a massive transformation. The party adopted Trump as it suited them even though he was an outsider. In this process, the party has moved far right. During the Democrats’ primaries, you had Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren who were centre left but they went with Biden.
Internal fracture of parties is happening. Eventually, the two-party system will break,” he said. On the possible external interference in the US elections, Sood said, “It is a reflection of polarisation. Social media with eco-chamber phenomenon adds to polarisation. Everybody has a voice and has supportive audience. Where do you develop norms for democracy to sustain? In different countries, there are different populist leaders who try to create a narrative.
There is disregard for science and facts. For 2016, there is evidence that there was interference. For 2020, there may have been attempts but the US systems have been tightened. No evidence (is present) to indicate interference.” On the India-US ties post election, both diplomats said if Trump returns, there will be unpredictability. “The core of ties will grow. The speed it acquires or public articulation is in question... Biden will bring back on the table freedom of expression and speech and dealing with minorities.
With Trump, we inherit a chaos,” Singh said. “If Trump returns, we will see an acceleration of disruption in West Asia with enormous implications for us. He will sell us LNG but will put pressure on trade and visa fronts. He will not talk about Kashmir. He could do a deal with China which could leave us high and dry. There is unpredictability. Biden’s priorities will not reverse completely; there will be calibrations. With China, he will find modus revendi while not giving up on trade and tech. India will drop to number five or six on the White House priority list,” Sood said.