How divisive will the US election campaign be?

US Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is campaigning with the promise to reunite the country. In his address to the Democratic National Convention last week, he described the Trump years as a "chapter of darkness" in the country's history. Commentators discuss whether Biden hit the right note.

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Der Standard (AT) /

Decency as a political agenda

Joe Biden is focusing on humaneness and decency instead of political content, says Der Standard:

“The 77-year-old political veteran is deliberately avoiding launching this election campaign with a plethora of concrete reform plans. He is a flexible pragmatist without a deep-rooted ideology, and his strategists want to prevent him from being positioned in the far left corner by Trump. ... If Biden wrestles Trump down with his character election campaign it would send a signal beyond the US. Unlike in the 20th century, in many places today's politics is no longer shaped by totalitarian ideologies but by the instrumentalisation of hatred for the conquest and preservation of power. Trump also fits into this series of opportunistic, brutal people. If he is defeated by a man whose greatest strength is humanity, it will hold out hope for other states as well.”

Der Tagesspiegel (DE) /

The end of politics

Der Tagesspiegel is not at all happy about the way the Democrats are presenting the election as a battle between good and evil:

“Like Trump, the Democrats have left the realm of concrete politics and followed him into 'myth mode'. In this mode, politics as the laborious process of negotiating a balance between concrete interests is irrelevant. ... For the Democrats the myth is an advantage for the time being because it helps them to close ranks. ... But in the long run the 'myth mode' is dangerous for democracy. Representing legitimate interests and dissenting opinions is the essence of politics, and negotiation is a healthy mode. But in the 'myth mode' even the attempt to negotiate becomes a betrayal. The myth mode means the end of politics.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

Trump will pull out all the stops

Trump's election campaign will be anything but fair precisely because Biden stands a good chance of winning, David Thorne, former US ambassador to Italy, writes in La Repubblica:

“Let's be prepared for Trump to lash out and do his best to discredit Biden at the Republican National Convention. ... Let's be prepared for debates in which the outgoing president pulls out all the stops to weaken Biden. ... A lot could still go wrong. Starting with election rigging. It seems that the Republican president and his party have come to the conclusion that the only chance of victory is to intervene in the electoral process in a variety of ways. For example, the appointment of a party friend [Louis DeJoy] as Postmaster General in order to sabotage mail-in voting.”

Jyllands-Posten (DK) /

Tragic-comic and highly dangerous

For Jyllands-Posten, the beginning of the election campaign has an absurd component:

“Viewed from the outside, the Americans are faced with an almost comical choice - between a clown whose visions are about the size of a tweet and a man propped up by his younger running mate. If this was any old country one could smile at this strange spectacle. But unfortunately this election is too serious for that. Let's hope that despite everything the Americans have enough faith in the power of democracy to go to the ballot box.”

La Vanguardia (ES) /

Cards on the table

La Vanguardia is eagerly awaiting Biden's nomination speech:

“The Democratic Party encompasses a conglomerate of different political sensitivities. And the candidate needs the backing of all of them in November. They have all promised to support him because defeating Trump is a priority; however, especially the leftist wing of the party represented by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is demanding that some of its proposals be included in a Democratic programme of government. That is why Biden's acceptance speech tonight is so important. ... Because people will see which pacts and alliances he has entered into within his party in order to present himself as the candidate who can unify a very divided country.”

Berlingske (DK) /

Reconciliation rather than systemic change

Berlingske says Biden would be well advised not to let himself be too influenced by the left-leaning forces in his party and their ideas:

“There is no need for comprehensive systemic change, but rather for a change in the cultural and political climate. For too long, irreconcilability and a tribal mentality have reduced the American societal debate to the question of bringing down political opponents. ... Biden himself has declared that he wants to bring America together and heal it. That is an honourable ambition, but nothing more than a declaration of intent so far. If he wants to turn his own rhetoric into action, he would be well advised to not get too involved with the left wing of the Democratic party, which seeks to neutralise Trump with a radical leftist course.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

Obama's third term

If Biden wins the election, that would practically amount to a third term for Barack Obama, concludes La Repubblica's US correspondent Federico Rampini:

“Obama's support is fundamental, indispensable, generous. ... The decision to select Kamala Harris, with her liberal biography and centrist politics, follows his position 100 percent as well. Obama is a guarantor of Biden's qualities vis-à-vis the Democratic base that still lights up when the former president takes the floor. His support for Biden-Harris is therefore the most important step of all, not only because of the immense political capital the first African-American president in history has, but also because he is attractive to minorities and young people. And for Obama, putting Biden in the White House also means settling some open accounts and correcting certain mistakes.”