"It is a huge mistake to underestimate Trump and the connection he has with an important part of the society"
The Hispanic political scientist who teaches at Georgetown spoke with LPO about Biden, Trump and the factors that could ruin election predictions. "Latino potential has never been fully expressed," he says.

Gonzalo Paz was born in Argentina, but he has lived in the United States for 20 years and is now based in Washington. He has a Phd in Political Science, he teaches and researches at the Center for Latin American Studies at Georgetown University and follows North American politics in detail. His thinking is not that of a simple analyst who observes the situation, he is based on background processes that explain it.

In a dialogue with LPO, Paz finds the weakness of the Biden administration a global process that turns into a negative factor what used to look as an advantage: being in charge of the government in a context of high instability. In addition, he talks about how the early candidacy of Donald Trump would affect a political scenario that seems very problematic for the Democrats, and analyzes the reasons for the Latino vote in the United States.

Biden has the highest inflation in four decades, he cannot pass the reforms at the Congress and the polls indicate he will loose elections. Are there any chances of reversing this situation?

It is a great question for a consultant or campaign manager. Today the debate is focused on the economic situation and, a simple example, what happens to you when you go for gasoline or you have to fill the shopping cart. It is a lot. There is some speculation about new Court rulings that establish a new focus, particularly in more progressive sectors and among women. After years of a strong Me Too campaign, there was a verdict contrary to the one that was expressed on a social level, and some people think that this can change the focus of the election. We must handle it with tweezers. But it is important to take into account that a factor that is analyzed a lot in the North American elections is the enthusiasm that people have to go out and vote or to stay at home.

How could it influence this case?

In general, Republicans tend to vote more and they are more disciplined. There are a lot of old people and there are reasons for everyone to feel compelled to take a position. Energizing or stimulating the basis is essential. Another thing is the hearing on January 6, which have attracted a great deal of public attention and one of its consequences has to do with Trump's decision to run again for president in 2024 or not. The central factor is whether he decides to run before or after midterm elections. The feeling is that Trump could announce his launch soon and would do so even sooner than later to try to counter the images emerging from the congressional hearings. That will also clear things among Republicans, because it can dissuade a candidate from running or force another to run.

We see that society demands answers from the government due to the cost of living, and that explains Biden's low popularity.

Being the one in charge of the government has historically been a circumstance that helps to carry on. You appear on TV and other media, you control good resources, and Democrats emphasize that a lot. The problem is that world politics during the last years have been against the incumbent. Furthermore, we can share the more than reasonable hypothesis that being an incumbent today is a disadvantage.

Being the one in charge of the government has historically been a circumstance that helps to carry on. The problem is that world politics during the last years have been against the incumbent. Furthermore, we can share the more than reasonable hypothesis that being an incumbent today is a disadvantage.

Is there any other aspect -not considered nowadays- that could save Biden from a defeat that would make him a minority in both houses of Congress?

After the 2020 census, electoral districts have to be reweave throughout the country and this is going to be the first election with the new electoral district map. The new map is going to be used in the 2024 presidential elections. Congress is the great equalizer between Alaska and California or Texas. The update is a very important factor for the upcoming elections. A related issue is that of gerrymandering, the limits set to minimize or maximize the number of districts that the government and the opposition could win. That is a very serious problem. Each one retains his or her own electorate and there are few incentives to interact and negotiate: on the contrary, the system has incentives that feed polarization.

Las dudas con Kamala: el plan B de los demócratas si Biden se baja de la reelección

According to a poll by the New York Times and the University of Siena, 64% of Democrats want another candidate. How important are those numbers, and what does it mean for Biden to exclude himself so far in advance?

The numbers from that survey are very low. Others are low too, but not so much, 38 or 39%, for example in the Politician category. But if Biden's contender were Trump, Biden would win and the difference would be 2 points, and that is overlooked. It is interesting to see how Trump's candidacy energizes the democrats and generates a very high resistance. Now, Biden cannot do anything but say he is going to be a candidate. Otherwise he would be a lame duck, which he probably will be if he loses both houses.

If Biden's contender were Trump, Biden would win and the difference would be 2 points. It is interesting to see how Trump's candidacy energizes the democrats and generates a very high resistance. That will not be considered.

A president never leaves before time, but it is an exceptional situation. Will there be any news?

There is another very important problem: we need to see who the other possible candidates would be if it were not Biden. Because Biden has all the problems he has, but he won a presidential election. Are there better candidates?

Kamala Harris is associated with the Biden government and yet she is mentioned, and that accounts for that problem. Are this real alternatives?

Vice presidents do not have much power in the United States, but we have recently had important vice presidencies. Dick Cheney's was very important, for some it was the most powerful vice presidency in the history of the United States. We also had Biden's vice presidency, in which Obama entrusted many issues and Biden had an important role. With Trump, Pence was absorbed by the president's magnitude, but he was always there, he was always a reference, a contrast, and his last move was not to convalidate Trump's attempt to not recognize Biden's victory. Compare to these three vice presidents, Harris' role is not outstanding. It is a fact that Biden asked her two or three things that were not easy: that she were in charge of Central America, the immigration issue, things that are very difficult to manage, but the truth is that until now she has not had an outstanding role. And the years to come are the ones to show up and be a major figure. There are other candidates, like California governor (Gavin) Newsom or Michigan governor (Gretchen Whitmer), but they start on a low rung compared to a figure like Biden, who has been political installed for decades.

The question is whether the punishment is going to be for the president or if it is going to be the Democrats in general who are going to pay for the high inflation and the possible recession.

In general, when voting in the United States, the unemployment rate was always taken into account. Today it is 3.6%, technically a situation of full employment. However, inflation has such a great impact that this historical indicator does not serve to forecast the elections results. Many Democrats say that the president's low popularity is not necessarily going to transfer to the states. There are governor elections and the polls predict that the Democrats are going to have a good performance. There must be space for these factors to weight.

Many Democrats say that the president's low popularity is not necessarily going to transfer to the states. There are governor elections and the polls predict that the Democrats are going to have a good performance. There must be space for these factors to weight.

What role does the Democratic left of Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortéz play today? Do they weaken Biden or capture the dissatisfaction?

Conventional wisdom indicates that internal elections in North American parties are won by going to the extremes of the political spectrum, and general some are won by going towards the center. What is happening in the United States now must be seen in the context of what is happening in the West. Many surveys fail and we have to consider the last NATO meeting in Madrid. Johnson is no longer the prime minister, Draghi has just resigned, Macron is in a complicated situation and the PSOE scandalously lost the elections in Andalucía, the traditional "fishing ground" for socialists votes. If we put them together again, the summit would be different. There is a state of disaffection regarding politics throughout the world.

Being in a position of responsibility is much more difficult than it was 10 years ago. There is a very severe questioning of what is established and it even includes science. The left (but also the far right) seek to capture this discontent. In the United States, progressivism has a wide and very innovative space, but at the same time it is difficult to avoid being labeled as communism and that automatically becomes a disqualification that works with great efficiency. In any case, issues such as women's rights, climate change, health continue to be articulated by the Democratic left wing, which is much more sensitive to this issues, and therefore it attracts more young people. That is why the oscillating willingness of young people to participate in elections is such an important variable.

"Trump wants to make it clear to his Republican rivals that if they betray him, they're going to pay a very high price."

Once more, Trump fights against his own party and is on the defensive due to the hearings investigating the attack on the Capitol. Do you see him in decline or in search of revenge?

A serious problem with those who do not share Trump's ideas or even hate him is that they underestimate Trump, and that is a huge mistake. We must never underestimate Trump or the connection he has with a lot of citizens, regardless he lost the election. But, how do we understand Trump? It is one of the most difficult questions to answer today. The key is what he said in his first campaign, when he stated that if he killed a person on Fifth Avenue in daylight, nothing would happen to him. In a country where anyone can be left out of the campaign for trifles, such an affirmation did not prevent him from becoming president. I was shocked, but I had to admit that he was right. For many people it was a proof that he was an absolutely sincere, authentic person, and he really said what he thought.

Do you thing that Trump's candidacy can cause difficulties to the Republicans and that is what some of his former collaborators such as Pence, Pompeo and Bolton see?

For the contemporary Republican leadership, it would be very important for Trump to delay his candidacy until after the mid-term elections or not even run, and for all the focus to continue to be on inflation, the gas pump and the supermarket cart. Anything that changes the conversation is not going to be well received by Republican campaign managers. If there is an important faction of the Republicans, older people with the civic pride characteristic of the United States, 5 or 10% who refuse to support him, Trump could lose the elections because it is decided by relatively small percentages. Biden won Trump by millions of votes, but the percentage was lower. The same thing would happen if a weighty Republican figure such as Liz Cheney decided to have a candidacy outside the Republican party.

For the contemporary Republican leadership, it would be very important for Trump to delay his candidacy or not even run. Thus the focus would be on inflation and the gas pump. Anything that changes the conversation is not going to be well received by Republican campaign managers.

In this context, the weight of Latinos is decisive once again, and we can see the Republicans have been successfully disputing it in places where they used to lose.

The Latino vote is a very important and interesting phenomenon. A part of that Latino vote is already second or third generation, it has Latino names but works in a similar way to others. Republicans have always managed to gain some input into the Latino vote on religion and family. There are Latinos who are more conservative from that point of view. Many have come from Central American countries where the evangelical churches have been expanding for decades. That conservative evangelical vote also finds a way of expressing through the Republicans. We can say that thinking only in economic terms, the majority of Latinos would support the Democrats, but when we introduce these factors, everything gets tangled up in culture wars. On the other hand, elections are not a single day thing, they are relevant for months and even years. This election has been on dispute for a long time in terms of who can vote or not.

Who has papers and who does not, what kind of papers are going to be required as proof of identity are important issues. They define the election because they reduce the possible universe of voters. Due to this, the political potential of the Latino community has never been fully expressed.

What do you mean?

I mean categories that define this crucial issue: who has papers and who does not, what kind of papers are going to be required as proof of identity when you go to the polling station on election day. These are very important issues because they reduce the possible universe of voters and, when we talk about the Latino vote, this discussion is very relevant and it greatly affects the Latino community. Due to this, the political potential of the Latino community has never been fully expressed and we do not know if it will ever do. Latinos are very important in many states where demographics have changed and that has altered the political dominance of parties in those states. But there is an important cut made before the election and it really defines who can vote and who cannot.




Temas de la nota:
Post a comment
To submit your comment, you must confirm that you have read and accepted the terms regulation and LPO conditions
Comments
The comments published are the sole responsibility of their authors and the consequences derived from them may be subject to the corresponding legal sanctions. Any user who includes any comment in violation of the terms and conditions regulation in their messages will be eliminated and disabled to comment again.