Joe Biden must try to bring unity to the US
With his usual bombast Donald Trump called the election. He had won. Even though, at that stage, he hadn’t. But neither had Joe Biden lost.
Confused? You were meant to be.
From the moment polls closed, Trump went on the attack on social media predictably calling foul, eventually typing his demands in capital letters, should anyone not be listening, TO STOP THE COUNT.
Twitter had to continuously censor, remove or caveat his rantings with a warning that they may contain factual inaccuracies. Television networks stopped recording as he spewed nonsense from the White House, to the point of declaring that people were using binoculars to interfere with the count. Even his pet broadcaster, Fox News, tentatively called him out, and the BBC started broadcasting fact checks.
But none of it really mattered because the world had already become inured to the President’s lies. He, after all, invented fake news.
So, while his supporters at one count were shouting ‘count the vote’ when they thought that would help him win, there were more at other locations shouting ‘stop the count’ when they thought the same would apply.
You can smile at the idiocy, shake your head at in the insanity, but this is the America that Trump has been able to mould in his own image.
His has been a politics rooted in stoking up hate, resentment and grievance and he has been a lightning rod for the disaffected. It is that legacy that Joe Biden inherits.
But after four years of this awful president, and despite all the polls saying otherwise, there was no landslide victory for the Democrats. No wholesale condemnation or rejection of a politics of a President that has appalled so many in the world, and in the end amid the garboil of the final counts, only a sliver of support separated the Biden and Trump.
The polls had consistently reflected a view that Trump deserved to lose and, to steal his phraseology, in a terrifically big way. His willful mismanagement of the pandemic was surely cause enough, but with people turning out to vote in record numbers, the final tally revealed that while he had lost the race to stay in the White House, his appeal, measured by the number of votes counted, had only increased since the last election.
How could that be? This is a man that is a proven liar, who tweets inanities, doesn’t understand diplomacy, is vulgar, sexist, and a bigot, and who has killed hundreds of thousands of his own countrymen and women with his cavalier approach to a pandemic that he continues and deliberately calls the Chinese virus so that racism is imbedded even in an invisible disease.
But contradictions run deep in American politics, as they do here – you only need to take a cursory glance at the reasons behind Brexit or why the working-class vote in the North East of England would choose to put Boris Johnson into No 10.
With an election in the ‘greatest democracy in the world’ potentially still ending in the courts, the only clear winner has been division. And while the last Democratic candidate for the White House, may have dismissed Trump supporters as ‘the deplorables’, it will be for President Biden to bring unity and for once and for all, deal with the underlying issues that gave succor to Trump’s popular appeal and to prevent a rerun with a Trump apprentice.