Opinion polls increasingly suggest that President Donald Trump’s approval ratings are falling, even as those of his rival, Joe Biden, are rising. Following his well-demonstrated instincts, President Trump has dug in and sent US federal agents to cities to control, read crush, protests against police brutality, racial profiling and other issues of discontent with the authorities. All this was triggered by the death, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, while being apprehended, of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black American man. The protests, started there by Black Lives Matter movement, have now spread to a number of American cities.
Disturbing images of militarised police forces confronting unarmed protesters, using tear gas, and baton-charging veterans have all provided grist for the media. Federal agents in Portland, Oregon, have been seen as overly aggressive, picking up people from the streets without identifying themselves, and behaving in such a manner that the city administrators have repeatedly asked them to vacate Portland. Now, President Trump is sending agents to other cities, whether they want them or not. While the discontent was primarily against local police forces that are controlled by cities, now it has become a Trump administration vs the protesters’ fight.
The Trump administration is on the back foot. It has failed to handle the Covid-19 crisis. The process of providing bailout money to small business is rife with allegations of fraud and corruption. The lack of a coherent response is also seen in international relations, as well as matters of domestic policy. Many of the appointments are ad hoc and candidates’ qualifications questionable. The fall in opinion poll numbers is therefore easy to explain. However, the spectre of a President who does not operate within the norms becoming more belligerent can’t be ignored. Looking at the riots and ugly confrontations in various cities, it is evident that the Trump administration is under siege.
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