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Biden’s Victory: What Now Awaits?

Whatever was set to happen on November 3, President Donald J. Trump would not lose. Falling in that establishment firebreak against democracy known as the Electoral College would not erase, let alone repudiate him. His now victorious opponent, far from convincing, strengthened by only one fact – not being Trump – remains a projection of all the unresolved problems of the republic.

A Joe Biden presidency promises to be a return, not a progression. But a glance at the US electoral map suggests no easy pathway to political amnesia. A vote count shy of 71 million for Trump will be a hard statistic to ignore; even harder for the new administration will be the Republicans in the House of Representatives and Senate. The high priests and priestesses of news at CNN attempted to strangle any suggestion that they had gotten the election so horribly wrong. Embarrassment would not be countenanced; Biden, despite struggling in various key states in the initial count, would come through on the mail-in ballots so vigorously slandered by Trump.

CNN anchor Jake Tapper could not be accused of any complexity, preferring to summarise the Trump administration as a “time of extreme divisions… it’s a time of several significant and utterly avoidable failures, most tragically, of course, the unwillingness to accept the facts and science and do everything that can be done to save lives during a pandemic.” A “long national nightmare” for Americans had concluded.

What various networks were loath to admit was how Trump, despite the pandemic calamity, the worst economic performance since the Great Depression, the misinformation, the conspiracies, the misogyny, the racist claims, scandals and corruption, could still outperform his own showing in 2016 by millions of votes.

Trump’s performance till January, before the pandemic struck, was such as to make the Democratic challenge indefeasibly weak. As Luke Savage suggests in Jacobin, “Had the virus never hit and the situation that prevailed in January remained – which saw Trump’s economic approval rating rise to levels not seen by any president for two decades – there can be little doubt that the former host of TV’s The Apprentice would have flattened the hapless Biden on his road to a second term.”

Biden, straightjacketed by the DNC establishment, barely disturbed the policy manual. As good parts of the West Coast burned, he uttered pieties on climate change while refusing to saddle himself to the Green New Deal, preferring his own “Biden Green Deal”. He also rejected Medicare for All and held out on the issue of abolishing the legislative filibuster. On the issue of whether he would expand the Supreme Court beyond nine justices, he suggested the creation of a national commission. But in all this, a nod of approval was made to Trumpist rhetoric in an effort to lure back rust belt voters: the “Buy America” plan making US manufacturing “the Arsenal of American Prosperity.”

The elections for Congress did nothing to indicate that Trumpism had been washed blue. Quite the opposite. The cash expended on attempting to dislodge various GOP Senate incumbents went begging. Lindsey Graham held firm in South Carolina; likewise Joni Ernst of Iowa. Susan Collins survived in Maine, despite the challenge from Sara Gideon, funded to the tune of $130 million. (Collins received $76 million.) The Democrats actually lost five seats in the House of Representatives. Such outcomes prompted Eric Levitz to remark that, “The 2020 election was likely a nigh-catastrophic setback for progressive politics in the United States.”

The results reveal a reorientation in US politics that Biden’s team will struggle to cope with. So will some Republicans, who find themselves, according to Steve Bannon, architect of Trump’s 2016 victory, a “working class party.” Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri certainly thinks so, making the claim on Election Day that, “We are a working class party now. That’s the future.”

Trump did increase his share of the vote, but the composition was not identical to that of 2016. An increased base among Latino voters in Texas and Florida was secured, suggesting the failure of the Democrats to convince them of Trump’s racist credentials. There was a rise in Black American votes for Trump, notably amongst males, despite the Black Lives Matter protests. Biden can also claim to have snared some former Republicans, notably of the middle-class, who found Trump a meal too rich to digest. Democrats seemed to better the Republicans in numerous suburban counties.

The remarks by the Biden-Harris team on the occasion of declaring victory did little to suggest a patching up of differences, a desire to understand the voters who cast their ballots for Trump. The illusion of “people power” was promoted by Kamala Harris. She also positioned the Democrats in such a manner as to continue the sneer against Trump’s voters. A vote for the Democrats was one for “truth” and “science”. By implication, those who voted against the Democrats were ignoramuses. Identity politics was reiterated: race, colour, sex. The lines in the sand, affirmed again.

Then came Biden, wishing to look more alive than not by running to the podium. Had he received a jab or two, a handy stimulant? Certainly, the commander-in-chief to be would have to dispel notions of lethargy and sleepiness. In animated, forced fashion, he claimed that a “clear victory” had been achieved. He spoke of an “outpouring” of joy across the globe. He promised to unify the country, again claiming that he was colour blind to “Blue States” and “Red States”. The electoral jigsaw suggests something glaringly different.

He thanked the African-American vote that always had his back as he had theirs. Identity markers were carefully inserted into the speech: African-American, White, Latino, Asian, Native American, straight, transgender, gay. This would have had Mark Lilla rolling his eyes, having warned in 2016 that celebrating diversity is “a splendid principle of moral pedagogy but disastrous as a foundation for democratic politics in our ideological age.”

There was the briefest mention to Trump supporters: “time to lower the temperature again.” He called for a “fair shot”. Enemies were not to be found, only Americans. Forces of fairness, science and hope were to be mastered. Scientists were to be appointed as advisors to the transition team to “turn around this pandemic.” He wished to “restore the soul of America”. Then, predictably, the words of his grandfather to him to “keep the faith”; and of his grandmother, to spread it.

More than faith, kept or spread, will be required. What this election victory for Biden promises is a eunuch presidency, one weak and emasculated before it begins. Anticipate deadlock and the agitations of continued tribalism. Trumpism, maddeningly, will linger behind the curtain, ever threatening to bromide politics.

 

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21 comments

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  1. mark delmege

    I never ignore class politics though I write more about the politics of war. Biden is more the rep of Wall Street and international finance Trump more of the rest if you get my drift.
    Reflecting on his four years in office its hard to ignore the fact that he only ever really got MSM support when he was bombing someone – notably in Syria as a reaction to a cooked up chemical weapons allegation. Fortunately little damage was done and he got the hard heads of his back with a fire and bang show.
    Or when he assassinated the leading Shia general and the leading Sunni terrorist (how is that for balance?). Very little was made of the Iranian reaction and its drone attack on a US military base which did considerable damage and actually killed quite a few Americans– perhaps they were so utterly embarrassed and helpless to do much about it – thus revealing their weakness.
    Anytime he attempted to end the long wars, eminently intelligent ideas by the way – Afghanistan Iraq and North Korea he was met with derision by the Democrats and their media partners.
    And when he suggested concluding the cold war with Russia – well shit man that was a step to far. I mean whats the point of having the largest military machine ever ever if there is no declared enemy. Every trick in the book was used against him. The ludicrous Steele dossiers kicked it off and they never stopped.

  2. New England Cocky

    Another four years of The Ugly American imposing their own best interests on the world and especially utilising mendacious politicians who believe that that rubbing shoulders with the famous is more important than growing the best interests of Australian voters.

  3. Kronomex

    Karen,

    I definitely concur with you.

  4. Roswell

    Alex f*cking Jones!

    God give me strength, too.

  5. guest

    Biden was right about one thing when he said ‘There was an “outpouring” of joy across the globe’ because Trump was gone.

    From as far away as the other side of the globe people could see from day one that Trump was a monster. He has been full of himself, easily rattled by criticism, rude and uncouth, light with the truth and the generator of chaos with failure to lead when he was needed.

    He has achieved just half of the promises he made; he has dumped green environmental regulations; fiddled with the judiciary; sacked officials on a whim; given tax cuts where the wealthy gained most and where many companies paid no tax at all; drove the USA further into debt.

    As for Biden, he will find it hard to achieve anything because, like Obama, he will be stone-walled by the Senate for a start.

    You can read any number of detailed criticisms of the Trump administration. And at the same time you can read any number of attempts to justify Trump, even with all his faults on display but irrelevant to those on the right because Trump, although not a politician and ignorant even of the US constitution, is a businessman, twice bankrupt.

    The US electoral system itself is a mess corrupted by money.

  6. DrakeN

    @ guest – “The US electoral system itself is a mess corrupted by money.”

    Much the same can be said of most “Western” countries.

  7. wam

    Sleepy, joe, ran to the last few media conferences after a kamala warm up (she is right up there with gillard). But he will struggle. It is promissing that he has gathered some experts to destroy his ally, covid.
    The conservative ratbags are so fond of ‘illegal’ vote, boat people but not bugging timor, selling cheap and buying dear, gifts to donors, family and friends.
    Loved the summation, joe is beyond bromides but I think Kamala isn’t and she is the full quid and 240 times the current VP.
    ps
    The ABC is on notice for their part in the biden debacle. Plus their support for albo is upsetting scummo et al.
    The opinion shows are warned to stick to their charter and report along government lines.

  8. Jack sprat

    It will be back to business as usual, Americcan exceptualism aided by its overwelming industrial military complex will continue to make war on third world countries that don’t toe the line to their interests .

  9. guest

    Yes, DrakeN, an interesting proposition. I was thinking of something I read which said that an ordinary citizen in the US could not afford to run for the presidency in the US.

    I was assuming that candidates in the US had to be wealthy to start with. I do not know how much money is raised by donation. But politics in the US seems to be a game played by the wealthy.

    I cannot imagine an engine driver in the US being president in the way an engine driver here in Oz became PM.

    Politicians here in Oz today seem to come from certain career paths to deal with matters of government and to be PM. Paul Keating seems an exception.

    But we all know that media barons can influence national politics and wealthy trie-hards can use them for their own purpose to protect their vested interests.

    But it seems to me that the US elections are far too long and far too expensive and far too much like a circus to be squeaky clean.

  10. mark delmege

    wam I make a lot of (cringeworthy) mistakes in my rush to post but if you dont mind the ‘n’ in your last word was unnecessary

  11. Michael Taylor

    … if you dont mind the ‘n’ in your last word was unnecessary.

    mark, that was funny. I’ll pay that.

    Very clever. 😀👍

  12. Terence Mills

    The big question seems to be what the Republican Party will now do.

    They allowed an outsider, a usurper to gatecrash their Grand Old Party and they rode on his coat-tails pretending that he was a Republican and that he represented Republican values : he didn’t. He only ever represented his own ego his driven self-absorption and overt narcissism.

    To survive, the Republican party should now walk away from this man and start to rebuild.

    By the way, I see that Mark Esper Chief of Defence has been terminated : remember this is the guy who called a stop to Trumps attempts to order the militia onto the streets of Portland Oregon to take down BLM protesters. I wonder if the latest disagreement is because Trump wants to wage civil war on America ?

  13. guest

    Mark Delmege,

    You say: Every trick in the book was used against him.

    Trump himself played a few tricks, as can be seen in sites which check his promises. And of course there are MSM outlets which praise Trump while at the same acknowledging his weaknesses.

    A site which looks at 40 of Trump’s broken promises is written by academic Robert Reich at prospect.org.

    He says there are American troops in Afghanistan which Trump wanted to take away. Now he says: “We will always be there.”

    Lyndsay Duncombe, writing at cb.ca on Trump’s “promises,promises” 4 years in the White House, says there are still American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the numbers are diminishing. It shows he is withdrawing from lengthy wars, but has increased the military budget.

    Trump says he has fulfilled all his promises. Duncombe says he hasn’t. but he has done enough to change the country while withdrawing from international involvement.

    The election seems to tell us what he has done is not all welcome.

    See Media Watch? US media blocked Trump’s ravings. Even in Oz, Fox commentators, but not Bolt, parroted Trump’s claims.

    The right is terrified of going down.

  14. DrakeN

    The Trump cohort is terrified of the criminal and civil cases which will be persued when Donald’s term ends.

    They are fighting for their lives and livelihoods.

  15. Kronomex

    DrakeN,

    Darn, you beat me to say almost exactly the same thing you wrote.

    Ah well, I know 7.4 year olds who leave the deranged orange madman in the dust with regards to maturity. His pathological fear and hatred of being a “loser” is a massive affront and shattering blow to his mind poisoning narcissism and ego. Like most of his type it’s a case of, “If I’m going then I’m going to wreck everything around me and take them (whoever “them” is in his paranoid mind is) with me.” He appears to be well and truly on his way to a psychotic/mental meltdown.

  16. Harvey

    Kronomex, true, he seems to be lost in a dream. But there is something to be said about taking down the rest of the ‘swamp dwellers’ on the way out the door. I hope he does bring some light to the darkness, especially the way covid is being used as an excuse to wind back rights gained over centuries. If he does that he will be a folk hero to many.

  17. mark delmege

    Guest.Trump is merely the President. Much like Obama. They have limited powers. The show rolls on who ever is in the big chair. That they brought back a war criminal says all you should need to know about the Democrats.
    Please dont quote me the useless media bites or the main stream liars. Or even the declared policy of whoever. Its irrelevant.
    But yeah there is a good argument that the military will be in Afghanistan for a very long time. (As Trump discovered) Much like Biden will keep the foothold in Iraq and Syria and go hard despite what the locals think. Its what the military want to maintain global dominance for as long as they can.
    Stick to your MSM and Democrat sound bites and talking points if you want but if you want to understand the world look elsewhere.
    If you could read between the lines you would see that I wasn’t supporting Trump, I was trying to explain what happened.
    If you have any good ideas I will use them, no problem but you aint offering anything new.
    If you want to follow a team stick to sport. Politics is far more important and complicated. And they are all bastards.

  18. Kronomex

    HarveyNovember 10, 2020 at 5:19 pm

    Um, what are you blathering about? I made a comment about what a vile, immature, vindictive, petulant child he is and you seem to have turned it into “The Donald, a Hero.”

    Oh yes, does your swamp dwellers comment also include the creatures, parasites, and leeches that have attached themselves to The Trump?

  19. guest

    Mark Delmege,

    Your comment that Biden is a ‘war criminal’ is in dispute, as are the same accusations made against other members of the ‘Coalition of the Willing’. Hindsight is always 20/20. As for the US wanting to ‘maintain global dominance’, that is exactly what our Coalition government wants because it is terrified of Chinese expansion and Islamic terrorism. And remember that a driving fore for invading Iraq was Bush and the oil barons.

    So I will look at the MSM and Democrat talking points, and Trump’s talking points but I will not be taken in if I sniff some weirdo social media baked fruit cake or twice boiled cabbage.

    You say Trump was only ever mentioned in the MSM if he was involved in war. You mean like the time he ordered the firing of some 50 or so missiles at an airfield and hardly hit anything. Or the time he ordered the dropping of the US’s biggest bomb on some remote part of Afghanistan. Meanwhile, US military is stationed around the world.

    And Trump went round visiting autocratic leaders, drinking tea, and posing for photo ops. The supposed bringing together of Arab states and Israel was already happening before Trump intruded. They were laughing up their sleeves because trump was out of his depth.

    Then you come to the Steele dossier. It had no impact because it is seen as only 35 pages of ‘hearsay’ which are not supported by evidence. What had more effect was the FBI release of Clinton;s emails days before the 2016 election. Nice timing.

    So, I say nothing new, according to you. But then, neither do you, despite your trawling through arcane documents which supposedly reveal the truth. And the truth is – that all politicians are bastards! So ‘important and complicated’.

    ‘Ideas about what happened’ are no good if they are just someone’s opinions and not the truth, no matter how interesting they are.

  20. mark delmege

    Guest. Thanks for correcting me, I didn’t realise that. I should do some more research before I argue this point.
    Na just kidding. Um …

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