Gloom vs Optimism: A Tale of Presidential Candidates

I have seen this movie before. Crime and violent crime were on the rise. Unemployment was high. Many Americans were concerned about their future.

A presidential candidate was running with a character platform. He basically said, “Vote for me because I am honest.” The candidate criticized his opponent of “hate and racism.”

The candidate painted America a dark country. He also told Americans that they suffered from malaise, a disease of the soul. And he would be the leader that would restore the soul of America.

A “gloomy” candidate.

Another candidate offered optimism. He promised to make America great again. Instead of asking his fellow countrymen to trust their government, he challenged them to trust their own values, the American spirit.

He ran on a platform to create jobs, preserve individual liberty, reduce government regulations, and build a strong military. He was committed to the protection and enforcement of the civil rights of black Americans and proposed to develop enterprise zones to help with urban renewal.

He ran a campaign of upbeat optimism. A MAGA candidate. Yet, despite his optimism, he was lagging in the polls.

You are forgiven if you think the “gloomy” candidate is Joe Biden and the MAGA is Donald Trump. You are not entirely wrong, however. But it was the 1980 election where “the gloomy” Jimmy Carter, the Democratic candidate, faced “the optimistic” Ronald Reagan, the Republican.

Just like Carter four decades ago, Joe Biden is currently campaigning as a healer of America’s soul malaise. In the spirit of Reaganism, Donald Trump is campaigning to make and keep America great again.  Four decades ago, Carter looked at his country and found a problem. In reality, he was the problem. Biden looks at America and finds a problem: systematic racism. It turns out, he committed it himself. When interviewed by a Black reporter, Biden said, "you ain't Black" if you vote for Trump.

In November 1980, 52 Americans had been held hostages by the radical Iranians in Teheran for almost a year. American economy was also held hostage as oil prices were skyrocketing, partly due to a mass strike of Iran’s oilfield workers that halted their production and cut the world’s oil supply.

Carter, the incumbent president, was unable to diplomatically resolve the crisis. His rescue mission was disastrous, killing eight U.S. military personnel with no hostages rescued. Why? He didn’t do it from a position of strength. The Iranian revolutionaries sensed Carter’s weakness and rejected the negotiation. The Operation Eagle Claw to rescue the hostages was weak from the beginning.

Reagan campaigned to restore the nation’s military. His famous mantra was “peace through strength”. Other countries, including Iran, took notice.

Today, many Americans are also held hostages -- by COVID, the China virus.  The economy is also held hostage by the virus. People lose jobs. Suicide, depression, and addiction to alcohol and drugs are rising at levels no one has seen before. But it is the reaction to the coronavirus-induced hostage that separates the two candidates, reminiscent of the reactions of Carter and Reagan in 1980 to the Iran hostage crisis.

Biden supports more lockdowns which could further devastate the already troubled businesses and families around the country. Trump is adamant to reopen the economy, stating that the cure should never be more costly than the disease.

After eight months, we now know better of the virus, which turns out it is not as deadly to the general population as thought months ago.

“We’re learning to live with it…. We cannot close the country… or you will not have a country,” said Trump in the final debate.

Joe Biden replied, “Learning to live with it? Come on. We’re dying with it…. We’re going into a dark winter, a dark winter.”

Leadership is not about preaching fear. Politicians typically do that. It’s not a coincidence that Biden is a 47-year career politician. Biden sees COVID as a problem and offers despair as the solution. Trump experienced it and is convinced that we all can overcome it. Being a businessman turned into a patriotic political leader, like Reagan, Trump sees that American spirit, ingenuity and innovation are our best disposal to overcome even seemingly unsolvable problems.

Despite lagging in polls days leading to the election, with his optimism, Reagan defeated the “gloomy” Carter by a huge margin, 51% to 41% in the popular vote, and in a landslide of 489 electoral votes to 49. In the final days of the campaign, the undecided voters broke strongly for the MAGA candidate.

Will the history repeat again? It will largely be decided by the undecided voters. But four decades ago, the collusion between the Democratic Party and the mainstream media was relatively non-existent. Today, the collusion is rampant and profound which is made even worse by the inclusion of a bigger collusive player: the Big Tech. They zealously suppress negative information and facts about Biden and fervently spread fake news to degrade Trump.

In a sane world, no amount of suppression of information can defeat a common sense that returning to normal life should trump lockdowns. I will be convinced that we still live in a sane world if the undecided choose Trump’s optimism over Biden’s gloom-mongering.