Nightmare ‘haunts US dream’, says leading NZ newspaper

US elections
The trends in the knife-edge US presidential election. Image: Al Jazeera graphic screenshot

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

A leading New Zealand newspaper has branded the knife-edge US presidential election as a “nightmare” scenario in response to fears of civil disorder and a tarnished global image.

“The very face of the American consumerism was forced to mask up,” said The New Zealand Herald today as the nation “hunkered down and waited for the new President to be elected”.

“Crews arrived on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, armed with sheets of plywood to board up each of the 70 boutiques and properties lining the high-end retain strip.”

A similar scene was playing out across the US on anticipation of strife, as former Vice-President Joe Biden held a narrow lead as the final result deopended on six crucial battleground states.

“At the time this edition went to press, it was too close to call with incumbent Donald Trump defying predictions to put in a strong showing,” the newspaper editorial said.

“US retailers hard hit by the covid-19 pandemic have already been hammered by public disorder peaking after the killing of George Floyd, a Black man, in police custody in Minneapolis which fuelled protests, some violent, across the country.

“US businesses have suffered property damage and theft worth an estimated US$1 billion in insured losses this year, according to conservative estimates from the Insurance Information Institute, making this year’s protests “the costliest civil disorder in US history”.

Display guns and ammunition removed
“A week before the election, Walmart removed all guns and amunition from display, fearing that items would be targeted by frustrated supporters of the losing candidate.”

NZ Herald 051120
Today’s New Zealand Herald front page. Image: PMC screenshot

The Herald said the election was largely a referendum on Trump’s “handling of the virus”. However, while Trump had insisted the nation was “rounding the turn”on the virus, Dr Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, had this week joined “a chorus of Trump administration scientists sounding the alarm about the current spike in infections”.

President Trump has overseen the pandemic in the US “reaching world record numbers – 9.42 million cases and still climbing”.

Outgoing US Ambassador to New Zealand Scott Brown said that no matter who won the US election, it would have no impact on Washington’s relationship with Wellington.

The Herald reported that Brown had said at the US Embassy’s election day party, his country had an “amazing” democracy.

“It may not be pretty, but it’s definitely vibrant,” Brown said.

Herald political columnist Audrey Young called on reelected Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to “take charge” of New Zealand’s relationship following former Foreign Minister Winston Peters who had managed this role in the last term.

On Al Jazeera’s Inside Story programme last night, presenter Imran Khan asked could the US global reputation be repaired?

The tight race for the US presidency was matched by falling global trust in American leadership.

Americans and much of the world were waiting nervously to see whether Biden would be the next US president or Donald Trump extend his stay at the White House.

The US president is often regarded as the most powerful person in the world.

Changes in American foreign policy could benefit or hurt millions of people.

Trump has upended diplomacy in the past four years while Biden has promised to restore some of those ties.

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