U.S 2020 Election – Gambian Americans lean towards Democrats
As Fox News anchor Chris Wallace prepares to handle the most waited first 2020 presidential debate between President Donald J. Trump and Joe Biden this Tuesday, Gambians who naturalized with citizenship of the United States of America also brace up for the November 3rd U.S presidential election.
This year’s election comes on the heels of several developments affecting the lives of Americans including the global pandemic of the Coronavirus and its macabre hits in the U.S where the virus claimed the lives of 204,033 people as of September 27th 2020, according to the U.S Centre for disease control and prevention (CDC).
Other issues of key importance, which can weight in deciding for whom of Trump or Biden to vote for, include Climate change, Immigration, Health care, the protection of civil rights and the rights of minorities after series of deaths involving black people while interacting with U.S Law enforcement officers.
Gambian Americans sensitive to the debate on race
The protection of blacks and minorities as well as police brutality is of great importance to Gambian Americans. Thirty-nine-year-old Momodou Lamin Sisay, a Gambian, was shot dead in May by police in Georgia. While joining their nation of adoption in determining not only the future of the USA, Gambian Americans will also participate in choosing the world most powerful leader who will provide protection for the black communities.
“The George Floyd, Briana Taylor and I can go on and on, and many Gambians are concerned about the police brutality. In fact, this issue has recently hit home when a Gambian by the name Muhammed Lamin Sisay was killed by the Georgia police officers and up to this day we have not gotten any answers” said Banka Manneh, a Gambian American citizen.
In his 40s, Banka who lives in Atlanta since 1995 believes that every Gambian American is watching this election very closely. Apart from the immigration, Banka believes the decision of Gambian Americans in going against Donald Trump on this election is built around the perception they have on the current White House incumbent.
“Pretty much all Gambian Americans, this coming election in the U.S…is the single most important election in their lifetimes for several reasons. The key among all issues is the man in power and that’s Donald Trump. He’s viewed in Gambian community as a racist in view of his stance on immigration and immigrants. He’s very strongly anti-immigrant and this has affected Gambians a lot because a lot of Gambians have been arrested and actually deported back to The Gambia by the Trump administration,” said Banka Manneh.
The George Floyd effect
The shockwave of injustices and U.S police killings of African Americans reached the seashores of The Gambia after the tragic murder of George Floyd. The cold blood killing of Floyd by a police officer who choke-held his neck, was badly welcomed in The Gambia.
The stories of terrifying encounters with U.S police officers by Gambian Americans to their relatives at home, in The Gambia, added to the shock and emotion that followed the death of George Floyd. Gambians in Banjul were in disbelief to discover the obvious inhumane side of the US Law enforcement agents in action while the Trump Administration took fait et cause for the incriminated officers.
A demonstration was organized by Gambian Civil society organizations in front of the U.S Embassy in The Gambia to demand that the United States of America rise to its claim of a country that is the world leading custodian of human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
Donald Trump’s reactions to the wave of ‘Black Lives Matter’ demonstrations as a result of Floyd’s killing was disappointing to Gambians Americans. They all perceive the seat of the President of the United States to be occupied by a leader who is essentially a unifier. That was not the attitude of Donald Trump. He instead used phrases that angered the black community across the United States and ordered the deployment of military personnel to quell tensions forcefully.
Gambian Americans enthusiastic about voting democrat
According to Dr. Bradley Jones PhD, research associate at Pew Research Center, about half of White voters identify with or lean towards the Republican Party and about 40% do the same towards the Democratic Party.
“Black voters overwhelmingly have associated with the Democratic Party and only a small minority say they feel closer to the Republican Party. Hispanics are about somewhere in between, where about 60% call themselves Democrats or lean towards the Democratic Party and 30% about with the Republicans.”
Banka Manneh, says Gambians can’t remain insensitive to the plight of the African American community. They believe that November elections is the chance to replace Trump with another leader who will stand for the protection of their lives. Banka said that Gambian American community is voting to not only validate the Democratic Party’s political offer but because Gambian Americans feel very passionate about issues that are currently happening under the Trump Administration.
“Of course, I’ll say all of them are gearing up to go and vote and obviously is safe to say that Joe Biden is going to get pretty much 100 percent of the Gambian American votes”.
While the erratic policy response of President Donald Trump on the COVID-19 pandemic has often backfired on his Administration, several other decisions he has made on Foreign policy since his election in 2016 have gradually depreciated the perception of the leadership of the U.S in the world.
Trump unilaterally removed his country from the Paris Climate Agreement and the Iran Nuclear deal which made him unpopular among his allies. The U.S president has been also unapologetically uttering quite a number of diminishing statements towards allies and other countries.
His statements on Muslims, often considered as racist, as well as his solo U.S centred policies are a hallmark of the Trump presidency. These are issues often commented by Gambians and Gambian Americans in their WhatsApp group conversations and on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
How the Electoral College works
The President and Vice President of the United States are chosen indirectly by a group of persons elected by America’s voters. These officials are known as electors, and the institution is referred to collectively as the Electoral College.
Mark J. Rozell, dean of the Schar school of Policy and Government at George Mason University in Virginia, USA says the next President of the U.S. will elected by the 538 members of the Electoral College.
In his analysis, 270 of 538 is what is needed for victory for any contestant; and if no one has it, the House of Representatives will choose the President, a scenario of which occurred 1824.
“Most presidential elections are focused from the beginning on winning 5-10 states, which will bind the critical marginal electors needed to get to 270. Rather than a “national” election, the presidential contest often appears like several simultaneous statewide contests. Both parties rely on consistent partisanship and polarization in 80% of US States,” he said.
Rozell who authors several books including the Executive Privilege: Presidential Power, said the goal of candidates is to win states, not the overall popular vote as in the case of 2016 election in which Hilary Clinton defeated Trump in popular vote yet the latter was elected.
Federalism and U.S elections
According to Mark Rozell, U.S president wins election and claims a mandate to govern but two years later, the nation elects new members of Congress in which the opposition party usually dominate the seats which constrain the president’s authority for the next two years.
“The founders of our Republic in the late 18th century devised a system of divided and decentralized authority to prevent any one group from controlling all power, and to weaken the federal level authority while leaving much power in the hands of state and local governments,” he told journalists covering the 2020 U.S elections.
He said State and local elections are held at various times. “In Virginia, home of my university, we elect our governor and other top state officers the year after the presidential election. Soon as the national election is over, candidates start campaigning for the state-level offices. Indeed, in Virginia there is an election every year.”