In the end, Joe Biden came through at the last to become the President-elect of the USA despite the antics of President Trump who threw even more toys out of his pram. He simply couldn’t believe he hadn’t won. His behaviour was frankly shocking. He would be remembered for the way he had disfigured the American democracy, made a killing on fake news which had badly effected the notion of truth across social media.
There were four winners: turn out which hit a record of nearly 145 million with Biden close at 75m; the gracious behaviour of Biden as he waited to be crowned, the power of the mail-in votes (postal votes to you and me) and the quite brilliant coverage of CNN: a gold medal to them. It was hard to recall, as we waited day after day, night after night for the call on Pennsylvania, Nevada, Arizona and Georgia, that the pollsters were for Biden as were the betting companies. (I had bet on Biden winning 300+ electoral college votes).
It seemed at first on Wednesday that Trump would win. He had been hungrier and it looked as if Biden might have rued his stay at-home strategy. But, patiently his votes grew and it was finally third time lucky for him. Trump was angrier than we had ever seen him spewing lies and disinformation even at the last and as we went to press claiming he would win in the courts without a spec of evidence. His backstop of stacking the Supreme Court 5-4 had failed. But, the real loser on the night was the American Constitution. It served a country looking at the past not a country understanding the future. Why weren’t the mail-in votes counted before election day? Moreover, in no other democratic country in the world which has a president, can a candidate with less votes win. This happened in America in 2000 and 2016.
It surely was time for a review. Of course, the sclerotic nature of the powers of the President, the Senate and the House make it nearly impossible for any legislation to pass. The system has become completely constipated. The election system was also grotesquely expensive. Maybe as much as $5 billion had been raised to fight all the elections on the ballot paper. And President Trump was quick to pay homage to his alleged family motto: ‘Get Your Retaliation in First’ by threatening to go to court two weeks before Election Day. Actually, he had no jurisdiction in the matter at all. But he has loaded the bases by making sure even down to the local state courts that there were a majority of Republican judges on the benches.
Again, how was this system fair? To a Brit, like myself, it smelt. The Judiciary needed to be totally and absolutely independent. It had been a pretty lacklustre campaign from both candidates though credit to Trump for doing in the last week: five, six and seven daily public conventions in the cold and long into the night. He had a hunger to win even if it meant the number of new cases of Covid-19 increased. Biden bunkered down too long. This was a policy-lite election. Though we had two and a half national television debates they were much more about personality than about the the Covid pandemic, future of NATO, climate change, the post zoom world, ISIS in Africa and the Education system. It seemed to me, as an outlier, that Trump aimed his campaign and white non-graduate, male only voters and it has, thankfully, failed. A Biden win would make a united Ireland possible. It would skewer our own PM’s Brexit strategy. It would be applauded across the world except in Russia and China.
Picture Credit: The British Museum