The 2020 Elections: The Image War for America’s Future

By Michael Patrick, Ph. D.

Who will win America’s election? A picture is worth a thousand words.

Turn off the sound. Watch the images. In the war of images, what voters see is what they imagine they will get with the next president.

For example: Watch protestors in Belarus and watch protestors in the streets of American cities. Huge image differences—one signifying peace, the other promising anger and violence. In Belarus, protestors are capturing the flag from a dictator. In America, they are burning it. One promises hope of a free future, the other scares people with crime and uncertainty.

The news media immediately scolded the largely maskless crowds at the White House as recklessly taking risks with Covid. Did they consider the power of that image in contrast to the images and promises of more government controls and closures?

The news media knows that this war of images matters. Their voices are edged with worry and sharp disdain. Their faces tense in contempt, not confidence.

The Democrats worry too. Pelosi said “don’t debate.” Hillary Clinton said, “Don’t concede.” Michael Moore, the iconoclastic leftist, who predicted Trump’s 2016 victory, is sending up warning flares of a Trump victory if Dems don’t act. Feisty Liberal TV host Bill Mayer is sending out alarms too about how Trump forces are excited and mobilizing, and Dems must do more. Based on the image war, they have a right to worry.

Hiding Biden from the rigors of a presidential campaign or from appearing with protestors was a short-term strategy that got them through the controversial summer.

But time has run out and Biden’s numbers are narrowing. Voters cannot be left uncertain of what a “Biden America” looks like. Dems can’t let President Trump define it. Biden must find a way to take charge of the image war as a strong, competent, and trusted leader during the debates.

What America will look like after the polls close in November is anyone’s guess. The results likely won’t be visible overnight. Discovering the final results may include weeks of delay and darkness.

For my own part, I pray that images of healing, faith, and reconciliation lead America’s way in 2021.

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