Event Summary: US Elections and Foreign Policy in the Age of Coronavirus
On Wednesday, June 3, 2020, the SETA Foundation at Washington, DC hosted a virtual panel of experts to discuss ‘US Elections and Foreign Policy in the Age of Coronavirus.’ The discussion featured the Honorable Robert Wexler, President of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace, and Mark Perry, independent author and journalist. The panel was moderated by Kilic Kanat, Research Director at SETA DC.
At the outset of the discussion, Wexler explained that the upcoming elections will be mostly influenced by domestic issues. Not only the coronavirus, but the killing of George Floyd and the subsequent protests will have an impact on how people vote in November. He believes that the domestic concerns people have are led by healthcare, which he predicts will be the number one issue people vote on. The most important implication is the manner in which the American people vote, which has become a partisan issue. The structure of the voting system should not be subject to partisan debate but now it is, and Wexler pointed to the idea that voting by mail is subject to fraud contradicts the facts. Additionally, Wexler highlighted the different approaches that Trump and presidential hopeful Biden have on the world. Trump’s America First policies are designed to separate and withdraw the US, but Biden’s policies would likely look to engage partners and find common ground. If Biden wins in November, Wexler predicts that he may formulate his foreign policy around climate change, maybe even appointing a cabinet member to address this issue.
Perry made it clear that on top of the anxieties felt as a result of the coronavirus, the convergence of responsibility between the US military and domestic law enforcement is making people even more uncomfortable. He shared the same viewpoint as Wexler in that Washington will be focused on domestic issues in the future and the decision in November will be made based on these issues. The outbreak of the coronavirus has highlighted the fragility of the US healthcare system, so this issue will be at the top of everyone’s list. At the end of the crisis, the US will be forced to reckon with this broken system. He predicts intense debates between Trump and Biden on the future of healthcare and health insurance in the US. The fact that Biden has not made very many public appearances in the last few months shows him to be a very serious and empathetic man, while Trump’s strutting around has made him appear diminished. Perry believes that if Biden wins, he will be forced to repair the US’s relationship with its partners and come back to some of the agreements Trump has pulled out of.