Tuesday 28 Jun 2022 | 15:44 | SYDNEY
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The 2020 US Presidential Election

America’s fantasy hero

While the supporters of democracy around the world watched in disbelief at the Capitol Hill “insurrection”, movie fans of Christopher Nolan’s Batman films – particularly The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises – would have recognised the underlying theme of chaos versus order. In

Interpreting the 2020 US presidential election

A decade ago – in other words, in 2019 – a massive, world-shaping event of global consequences loomed on the horizon: the US presidential election. That was before Covid-19 came knocking. Against the backdrop of an unchecked pandemic, rage on American streets and uncertainty about the

Washington’s warped Asia policy debate

US President-elect Joe Biden’s decision to select retired Army General Lloyd Austin to be his Secretary of Defense triggered a somewhat predictable set of hot takes among US academics and commentators. Aside from questions about what his appointment would mean for civil-military relations, a major

The surprise of Biden

Now that the dust has settled on the 2020 election, with President Donald Trump talking about leaving the White House and Republican Senators engaging President-elect Joe Biden’s Cabinet nominees, it’s worth reflecting on the improbable rise of Biden, a man who has spent four decades in public

Donald Trump vs the democratic tradition

Last week, US President Donald Trump announced via Twitter that he had authorised his staff to begin “initial protocols” for the transition process. In the same breath, he vowed to continue what is a fruitless campaign against alleged voter fraud. In subsequent tweets throughout the week,

The Democrats’ voter problem

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have, thankfully, won the 2020 election. Despite President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede, the results are clear. Yet of over 152 million people voting, the largest US election turnout in over 100 years, some 48%, more than 73 million people, voted for Trump. Such

America’s divisions are real, and not going away

Over the course of the Trump presidency, it has been possible to isolate political moments and assess their meaning. But it has been difficult to tell a coherent story about the state of American politics since 2016. Noise, acrimony and emotion are constants in modern America, but living with Donald

What does a Biden administration herald for New Zealand?

Joe Biden’s election victory will be greeted in Wellington, as in many other world capitals, with a collective sigh of relief. That’s understandable. But what will the Biden presidency actually mean for New Zealand? The government of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will welcome a Biden

Joe Biden: Big questions and great expectations

Scott Morrison wasted no time. He wants Joe Biden to visit Australia next year to mark 70 years since the ANZUS Treaty was signed. That’d be 1 September 2021, were the trip to fall on the anniversary date. Let’s hope there’s no mandatory 14 days quarantine for international travellers by

Can Trumpism live without Trump?

Donald Trump has lost the presidency, but the 2020 election has confirmed the extraordinary mobilising power of his movement. He still won close to half of an unusually high turnout. Republicans are likely to keep their majority in the Senate (depending on the outcome of a runoff in Georgia in

A Trump legacy?

The “who won” question isn’t quite resolved. Bleary-eyed pundits fossicking over every county result are making about as much sense – and as much noise — as a flock of seagulls scrabbling for chips on the beach. Joe Biden might just have the numbers. But Donald Trump hasn’t been blown

Blurring fact and fiction in the US election

Imagine if stories of the US election were being reported as an event in the developing world: the president, who was elected amid controversy surrounding foreign interference in the election, has encouraged intimidation and violence by informal militias. Armed groups have stormed state legislatures

America in 2020: The view from here

With 3 November looming, the time is right to review the state of US foreign policy in this most unruly of years. Over the course of 2020, the Lowy Institute has published more than a hundred analyses, opinion pieces, podcasts and policy briefs on the subject of Australia’s alliance partner, the

Why Kim Jong-un will soon miss Donald Trump

If US President Donald Trump loses the 3 November election, North Korea’s Kim Jong-un will be first in line to mourn Trump’s departure from the White House. Despite a rocky start (those months of “fire and fury” seem a lifetime ago), the Trump-Kim relationship has grown incredibly in

Inciter in chief

We are days out from one of the most consequential presidential elections in United States history. The stakes this time are extraordinarily high, and concerns around how election day will play out are at a peak – and not just in terms of vote tallies. In one of the world’s most enduring

US election: A Democratic trifecta is within sight

The pollsters at FiveThirtyEight forecast that the Democrats are poised to win the trifecta – presidency, House and Senate – on 3 November. Their analysis gave Joe Biden an 87% chance of winning the White House, and the Democratic Party a 96% chance of maintaining control of the House of

Donald Trump. Crisis? What Crisis?

Thomas Wright’s Lowy Institute analysis “The Point of No Return: The 2020 Election and the Crisis of American Foreign Policy” is a very good summary of challenges facing any incoming Biden administration. But while Wright describes well the likely tensions of Biden’s foreign policy – as a

Reckoning with a post-Trump America

With less than a month to an election that US President Donald Trump appears likely to lose, I’ve been looking for perspective on what that loss would mean for America. Gaining that perspective requires making some sense out of Trump and considering his impact on his fellow citizens over the past

Trump gets sick and the media dives into the deep end

The weekend confusion about Donald Trump’s health after his Covid-19 diagnosis perhaps wasn’t all that surprising given the propensity of his administration to promote “alternative facts” and decry “fake news”. You might say not a lot of trust is lost between journalists and the White

US presidential debate: Prologue to chaos

Few would have expected the first debate between US President Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Joe Biden to proceed in any sort of cordial fashion, politely adhering to the fundamentally genteel aspirations of the format. Nonetheless, the train wreck on that Ohio stage on Tuesday night was a

A reality show for the US presidential race

When it became clear in March and April that pandemic precautions would limit the activities of the US presidential candidates, the scheduled debates between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden stood out as a singular opportunity to alter the trajectory of the race. But on the

A reckless president emboldened

In an essay for Foreign Affairs this month, Richard Haas explains that over the past four years the Trump administration has disrupted US foreign policy and left America worse off. The adminstration did not respect what was working in American foreign policy, and after they broke things, they

America’s breaking point?

US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on Friday after a long battle with cancer. As the US and world mourns the loss of an icon, there are increasing concerns about what her death means for American politics. The immediate worry is that this year’s US presidential election will

America: Demographic shift to democratic redemption

As Americans head into the final months of the 2020 election, US President Donald Trump, trailing Democratic candidate Joe Biden, is on offence, raising the volume on his “law and order” message and hoping to force concerns about his pandemic response into the background. Biden is working hard

Pandemic democracy

How will Covid-19 affect electoral democracy in Australia and around the world? The pandemic has starkly revealed two fundamental aspects of successful democracy: the extent of a given society’s trust between its citizens and their government, and the capacity of those same governments to

A Biden presidency and the US–South Korea alliance

US presidential candidate Joe Biden, leading in most polls more than two months before the November election, is cautiously expected to win office. On foreign policy, his plan has been characterised as a “restoration project” to rebuild America’s international standing, with the help of allies