US election 2020: A time of reckoning for a ‘post turtle’? 

Published November 2, 2020, 4:07 PM

by Former Senator Atty. Joey D. Lina


Former Senator
Atty. Joey Lina

As Americans decide on who should lead the United States in the next four years, many remain unsure of the final outcome of the November 3 US election.

Would US Republican President Donald Trump be reelected, thereby proving the vast majority of pollsters wrong again? Or would the Democratic challenger, former US vice president Joe Biden emerge victorious? Would a blue wave of Democrats sweep across battleground states, or even across some traditional red strongholds of Republicans?

Democrats feel time is running out on Mr. Trump’s presidency because in the couple of weeks leading to Election Day, a lot of national polls indicate Mr. Biden is destined to take the White House. Some are even confident that large margins in certain polls show the Democrat way ahead than any candidate was since 1984 when Ronald Reagan crushed his opponent.

Of course, there is still a possibility that Mr. Trump can pull off a big surprise just like in 2016 when his unexpected triumph shattered the dream of many voters, especially Filipino-Americans, to witness in their lifetime the first ever American woman to rise to the pinnacle of power and break the so-called glass ceiling.

But this election is vastly different from the one four years ago because the national polls average show Mr. Biden’s lead is wider by 5 to 6 points than what Hillary Clinton had in the closing days of  the 2016 election campaign. And, more importantly, his wide lead is reflected in the swing states needed to garner the minimum of 270 votes in the Electoral College to win the presidency.

Thus, with large margins in various national polls – some even in double digits like the NBC/WSJ and CNN Poll of Polls which put Biden up by 52% over Trump’s 42% – as of Nov. 1, many believe it is improbable for Mr. Biden to lose—unless “the national polls are in for their worst error in at least 40 years.”

Yet, those unsure of the final outcome can’t be blamed if they still have not recovered from the shock of 2016 when election night swiftly turned from glee to gloom for Democrats. They never saw it coming then – how a majority of pollsters got it so wrong when they were blindsided by a surge of Republican voters who pulled off one of the most stunning upsets in US politics.

But I think pollsters have learned their lesson, and have embarked on corrective measures this time around as they seek redemption. This 2020 election can be seen as a time of reckoning not only for the Trump presidency, but for pollsters as well.

How come Mr. Biden is leading in almost all the national polls, and why are the margins holding steady for several weeks now? The phenomenon does not necessarily reflect how alluring he is to supporters, or how fascinated they are of his qualities and character. Rather, the groundswell of support for the Democrat reflects how disgusted Americans are of Mr. Trump and of his Republican sycophants.

On why Mr. Trump has to go, the New Yorker magazine’s recent endorsement of Biden said it well: “There is no overestimating the craving for restorative calm. It would surely be a relief simply to have a President who is not a chronic liar, someone who doesn’t abuse the office as a colossal grift.”

That Mr. Trump is a “chronic liar” is widely perceived. The Washington Post fact checkers tracking his dishonesty have clocked up more than 20,000 misleading and false claims.

A scathing assessment of Mr. Trump’s character flaws was made by one of those closest to him, retired Marine Gen. John Kelly, who had served as his chief of staff at the White House. “The depths of his dishonesty is just astounding to me. The dishonesty, the transactional nature of every relationship… it’s more pathetic than anything else. He is the most flawed person I have ever met in my life,” published reports quoting Gen. Kelly said.

“He can’t fathom the idea of doing something for someone other than himself,” another retired general told The Atlantic which cited four anonymous sources who claimed Mr. Trump “repeatedly mocked US soldiers killed in battle and skipped a visit to a veterans’ cemetery in France out of concern that rainy conditions would mess up his carefully coiffed hair.”

On Mr. Trump’s attitude and work style, former President Barack Obama said: “You’ve got a President right now, he wants full credit for an economy that he inherited, he wants zero blame for the pandemic he ignored. The job doesn’t work that way. You’ve got to be responsible 24/7…Tweeting doesn’t fix things. Watching TV all day doesn’t fix things. Making stuff up doesn’t fix things.”

But more than his distractive antics and character flaws, Mr. Trump’s critics find his leadership style most disturbing, especially over the response to the coronavirus pandemic that put the US as worst-hit country in the world. “Trump’s contempt for science and the basic welfare of Americans is so profound that, through an enraging combination of incompetence, indifference, and stupidity, he has failed to meet the pitiless demands of a viral pandemic,” a CNN analyst wrote.

Indeed, many would like to believe that with Mr. Biden leading in polls, the end is near for Mr. Trump as a “post turtle” president.

But what is a post turtle? Here’s what old farmers in rural America say: “When you’re driving down a country road and you come across fence posts with a turtle balanced on top of a post, that’s a post turtle. You know the turtle didn’t get up there by himself, he doesn’t belong up there, he doesn’t know what to do while on top of the post, and you just wonder what kind of dumb idiot put him up there.”

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