Ravenscroft Group | Mark Bousfield
18 Sep 20

Tales from Texas No. 4 - Babylon's Burning

In his fourth article covering the run up to the US Presidential election, David Chan provides his viewpoint on the current US political environment.

You're burning the street
You're burning your houses
With anxiety
The Ruts, 1979

It’s getting close. Not that you’d really notice given the last election has been on continuous re-run ever since “Orange Man Bad” had the temerity to win in 2016. Of course, this is being billed as the most important election in memory. But then they said that about Reagan, Bush II and many others besides.

Texas has not been subject to the endless urban disruption of the likes of Oregon and Minnesota, so I cannot provide anything beyond cable news insight into life under Portland’s 100 days of rioting. Interestingly, there now seems to be a hiatus following the realisation that the optics were having a negative effect on voters’ intentions in November. Hitherto supportive media pundits have apparently determined that the electorate may be less than enthusiastic about having its cities endlessly trashed by ‘predominantly peaceful’ middle-class, white, social justice warriors. As an aside, the Molotov cocktail-throwing New York lawyers are potentially facing Federal life sentences for terror offences; however, it seems that the charges will almost certainly be pleaded down before they go to trial.

Talking of Minnesota, it was amusing to read the other day about Minneapolis City Council expressing concern as to the rise in crime (since its decision to defund the police department). I’m not sure why those who supported the June vote in favour of a ‘community-based system of public safety’ are surprised, but it does strike one as mildly hypocritical subsequently to complain about the lack of police presence. I should have thought this was the perfect archetype of ‘your vote in action’.

Meanwhile, the two presidential candidates continue to spar at social distance. In one of the more significant moves, Biden chose Senator Kamala Harris as his vice-presidential candidate – an interesting choice for two reasons.

First, she has baggage as a previous Attorney General of California deemed insufficiently progressive – i.e. too closely aligned to the police – by the left of her party. Second, she is not African American (neither, of course, is Obama) as the daughter of an Indian mother and Jamaican father. Why does this matter? It sounds ridiculous, but in the Black Lives Matter-driven view of politics, Harris, who failed pretty badly in her own Democratic presidential candidate campaign, may not connect with the black vote in quite the way the establishment hopes. Nevertheless, there is bound to be a large contingent of supportive women who will be keen to get into office someone who should then be a lock for president in 2024 (assuming an almost certain one-term Biden presidency – and on current form he’ll be lucky if he makes it that far).

Biden himself continues to adhere to the ‘basement’ strategy, appearing only in tightly scripted (teleprompted) media interviews and set-piece speeches where he seems unable to avoid embarrassing flubs such as inadvertently reading the autocue instructions and looking down at his notes to provide answers during live exchanges. This is why major figures in his party have urged him not to participate in the three presidential debates with Trump in the run-up to voting day (not, as some would have it, because Biden should not ‘legitimise’ the Tweeter-in-Chief). He has recently been challenged by Joe Rogan, one of the nation’s most popular podcasters, to a live, unedited, four-hour debate with Trump (who, of course, immediately accepted). I’d say the chances of it happening are slim to none.

Finally, in a move guaranteed to provoke, a Norwegian politician has nominated Donald Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his involvement in the recent Israel, UAE, Bahrain back-to-back peace accords. Something tells me the committee won’t give him the award, but it is telling that he is the first US president in more than 35 years not to go to war – precisely as promised in his 2016 manifesto. Will that count on Tuesday 3rd November? Well, the economy continues to struggle mightily with Covid-19, which is bad news for any incumbent, and the polls say Biden has a 75 per cent chance of winning. But Hillary Clinton was predicted to have an over-90 per cent chance last time around and look what happened there. Whisper it, but the bookies are nowhere near that confident and there are still plenty of shy voters in hiding from the pollsters.

Next time I write we’ll be almost there!


David Chan is a former colleague at Ravenscroft and an old friend of the business. He now lives in Texas with his wife. A former RAF fighter pilot, David was awarded an OBE in 2006 for his leadership of Eurofighter Typhoon entry-into-service operations.

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