Nothing unexpected happened at the first presidential debate in Cleveland. Given President Trump's past records since his debates with his Democratic Party contestant Hilary Clinton in the run up to the November 8, 2016's presidential election, everyone knew it would be another bout of trading insults, if not of name-calling.
Even so, to give the debates a saner look, the 'Commission on Presidential Debates' has decided to put 'additional structure' for the sake of 'more orderly discussions.' Obviously, the idea came out of the fear of further collapse of the norms in the next bout of debates.
Though not in debate, the unexpected, however, has happened. It is that President Trump is now down with the Covid-19 and admitted to hospital. Along with him, many others including his wife has been infected.
It all can be traced back to the Rose Garden event last week where the president formally announced Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court. Few attendees there did wear mask or maintained social distancing. It is no surprise then that the list of his infected associates is getting longer.
Now the news of the president getting the virus has caused speculations doing the rounds: how is it going to influence the upcoming election? However, let us hope for the best and assume that the election is taking place as scheduled on November 3, 2020.
What is going to happen next? If president Trump returns to power, how bad will it be for the USA or for the rest of the world? And how much change Democrat Joe Biden will be able to bring about in the American political landscape, if he is the winner?
The incumbent, if he returns for the second term, cannot make things worse than it already is. However, his own contribution, if any, has been to fan the simmering fire that was already there. If truth be told, America was already divided. Trump has only championed that division in his own clumsy, chaotic way.
And on the world stage, as the world leader, the USA's image will see a further decline.
A Democrat president, on the other hand, will not be able to do much to change the existing order. Worse, in the given political atmosphere, a Democrat president may have to tilt a bit more to the right to appease the disgruntled, white American voters.
The decline in standards at the debates, in the speeches on the campaign trails, or in the ugly showdowns in the Congress are all symptomatic of a highly fractious political system.
The majority of white Americans had long been watching in dismay how the immigrants and the blacks had been increasingly becoming successful; the first African-American president, Obama, being the ultimate example.
The majority, as it is often the case, always look for a scapegoat to blame for all their woes-fewer jobs, dying out small businesses, drug abuse, violence, you name it.
Against this backdrop, US election campaigns started to lose their earlier grace.
One may recall how Obama's presidential campaign was marked by insensitive, humiliating words questioning his faith and his birth from his own Democratic camp!
US presidential campaigns since November 2016 became quite a spectacle to the rest of the world. As such Cleveland faceoff was nothing out of the blue. The difference, if any, was his opponent, Democratic Joe Biden's borrowing from Trump some of his unconventional styles.
But Trump, despite his dismal performance as a president, is still enjoying a strong following in his support base. Why?
Because, in him, the conservative White America has got a new hero who fits in the scheme well. The narrative of rudeness, shamelessness, and hate serves that end well. Wherever there is persecution of the minority based on religion, ethnicity, colour etc, such narrative is at work.
So, be it Trump or Biden, America is going to remain more of the same. However, until something earthshaking happens.