David McKean (shown in this archive photo) served as US Ambassador to Luxembourg From 2016 to 2017
Photo: Mike Zenari
For former US Ambassador to Luxembourg David McKean, there’s never been a more hotly contested presidential race in his lifetime, nor one with higher stakes.
When Joe Biden accepted the nomination from the Democratic party, he made a promise to restore the “soul of America”, and it’s a sentiment David McKean echoed during a recent interview with Delano.
Speaking from his home in Washington, D.C., McKean said that in his 15 years working in the Senate and 25 years in the government, he’s seen plenty of disagreements on subjects that divided opinion. “But I've never seen the country as seriously divided as it is now. And I've never seen a president who has failed to exercise leadership the way Donald Trump has… he’s simply shown that he is not up to the job.”
From 2016 to 2017, McKean served as ambassador to the grand duchy and lived here with his wife, Kathleen. It is a location he says will “always be close to our hearts”, but a sojourn which was nevertheless “too short”. As someone who backed 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, he admits he was “stunned” when those election results came in. But he thinks there could be a shift.
“I think the difference this year is that Biden is really laser-focused on a lot of these battleground states that Clinton lost by very slim margins last time, and Biden is leading in most of those battleground states,” said McKean. “In fact, he has expanded the map, and a number of the so-called ‘red states’ that Trump won fairly handily [are] this year being contested.”
A message from voters
At the time of writing, voter turnout had surpassed 14 million, and overall election turnout is expected to eventually exceed the roughly 130 million voters who cast their ballots in the 2016 presidential election. McKean called the early voting model “a very positive development,” adding: “It allows those people who are not able to actually take time away from work or other activities on Election Day itself to have the opportunity to vote.” It’s a model he hopes will continue to be adopted by more states.
Donald Trump’s former secretary of defense, James Mattis, had criticised the US president for dividing a nation--a statement with which McKean agrees. Between Trump and Biden, there are “two very different visions of what our country should be,” McKean said.
“I think Vice President Biden recognises that we're much stronger, we have a much greater ability to be economically successful, more successful in foreign policy, if we're united. That’s going to be something that he’s going to work very hard for if he's elected, and it's desperately needed because what has happened to this country in the last four years is really unimaginable.”
McKean didn’t want to make a prediction on what the outcome of the 2020 race would be, but he does have a wish.
“I just hope that everyone who is able to vote will get out and vote. I think it would send a very important message to the rest of the world if Biden does win this convincingly. I certainly think that's a possibility.”
A US Elections Debate event, organised by Paperjam Club and Delano magazine, will take place on 21 October. Register for the event here.