Tue | Oct 27, 2020

‘What we expect from Biden and Kamala’ - Jamaicans have high hopes for US presidential candidates

Published:Sunday | October 18, 2020 | 12:15 AMKaryl Walker - Sunday Gleaner Writer
Democratic vice-presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris.
Democratic vice-presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris.
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice-President, Joe Biden.
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice-President, Joe Biden.
Stubbs
Stubbs
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With two weeks to go for what is being described as one of the most important presidential elections in the history of the United States, Jamaicans in the US have high expectations of whoever takes the White House.

Of particular interest to Jamaicans here is the role being played by Democratic vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris, whose Jamaican heritage has endeared her to them.

Joe Biden and Harris face off against incumbent Donald Trump and his deputy Mike Pence in what pundits are predicting to be a heated battle.

Living in the US for decades, Lianni Gayle has experienced life under both Democratic and Republican administrations.

The Jamaica-born woman has declared her choice for Biden-Harris due to what she describes as a worrying breakdown in everyday norms.

“First, we expect a return to dignity in leadership. What has transpired in the last four years is disgraceful and America must regain its pride of place as the leader of the free world. I stand solidly with Kamala Harris as a woman and a Jamaican. Her performance in the recently held vice-presidential debate against a pathetic Mike Pence has also boosted my confidence in her,” Gayle told The Sunday Gleaner.

DOING HER JOB

Biden has been criticised by his detractors for his age and proposed tax reforms, which would see a reversal of Trump’s policies that saw big businesses receiving favourable tax-cut deals.

Harris has been working hard to woo the black vote after being harshly criticised for being extra tough on blacks when she stood as a prosecutor in California.

She was said to have continued the trend of seeking extra long sentences for non-white offenders, but not the same for Caucasians who were found guilty of committing similar crimes.

But for Florida-based Debra Stubbs, those claims against Harris pale in comparison to the deep racial chasm she said has been dug by the Trump administration.

“Kamala was doing her job and it is a judge who passes sentences, so those claims are without substance. What Donald Trump and his group of lackeys have constantly supported is an open disregard for the lives of non-white people in this country. It is very scary for coloured people who have been under the gun and heel of the system and hate groups for too long. It is my hope that the Democratic Party will pull the win and send Trump packing,” Stubbs stated.

Some Jamaicans have also expressed concerns that non-white American citizens may become targets of far right groups who have sworn to embark on a civil war campaign if Trump is voted out by the American electorate.

Despite numerous efforts and prompting by the media, the sitting president has not condemned white supremacy groups who have been branded as domestic terrorists by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“His words and actions prove Trump does not count us as important, and for that I hope that Biden lives up to his words and represents all Americans,” Andrew Sinclair, information systems consultant based in the Silicon Valley, said.

Another bone of contention was the Trump administration’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some 218,000 deaths have been tallied due to the deadly virus in the US, while more than eight million Americans, including Trump and close associates of Harris, have been infected. Going into the November 3 elections, COVID-19-related issues have been front and centre in the American psyche.

“Trump has consistently downplayed the severity of COVID and acted as if those of us who have lost loved ones should just move on like it’s business as usual. His ‘it is what it is’ statement during an interview was very insensitive. Biden and Harris, on the other hand, have spoken with compassion and seem to want to alter the way things are being handled. I expect to get better results from them if America decides to hand them the job,” Karl Bancroft, whose mother succumbed to the virus in New York in March, said.

SUPPORT FOR TRUMP

But Trump and his team are not without support within the Jamaican community.

Citing an improved economy which has resulted in increased income, Atlanta-based entrepreneur Jabari Jones said his vote will be solidly behind Trump.

“Yes, he tends to say silly things. Yes, he is not the most likeable person and, yes, he seems to not want to openly offend his base, but in the last four years my business has grown and I have been able to expand. I vote not on sentiment but on issues that affect me. I did not do so well when Barack Obama was president. So while I know how some people feel, for me it’s Donald Trump for a return to the White House,” Jones declared.

karyl.walker@gleanerjm.com