Biden Wins, but is America Trumped? 9/11/20
Biden won the US election, but everyone was surprised how close it was and how well Trump did.
It might be said that had there not be the COVID19 virus and Trumps handling it very badly, he probably would have won. Many have been wringing their hands for years, but whatever lies he tells, however much fact-checking was done, Trump seemed Teflon-coated. The standards have changed. Did we really think politicians had to tell the truth in the past and have them resign if they were caught out? The reality show host told people that economy was doing well, the stock market was up and the COVID would disappear and if he wasn’t consistent with yesterday, that is for fact-check researchers. He is still the same friendly face and reassuring voice for many.
But at a more fundamental level, the middle class in the US have been having a bad time for a long time. Neo-liberal economics favours world trade, China does it cheaper and jobs are offshored. The importers can pay Chinese prices for goods, and charge US prices, so their margins have gone up. In 2008 Obama’s slogan was that ‘Change is Possible’ but he failed to capitalise on Democrat control of the Senate and when the Global Financial Crisis came, he bailed out the banks, not the little people who still lost their homes. In 2016 Bernie Sanders recognised the problem, but the Democrat Establishment were scared of him, suppressed the vote in the Primaries and put in Hilary Clinton. Hilary Clinton, as ex-First Lady and Secretary of State was seen as part of the Establishment, and hence part of the problem.
Trump played this, as well as the voting system that favoured small states with Republican governments who wrote the electoral laws with varying degrees of voter suppression. Trump remained Anti-Establishment man, a populist, who would say anything to be popular. This time again, Sanders spoke of the need for change and used the word ‘Socialist’, a brave thing to do in America. The Democrat Establishment was again scared, and again used some voter suppression and getting the other less successful moderate candidates to withdraw to allow Biden’s late run for the Democrat nomination. So the people who wanted change were dudded again. The Democrats had an Establishment candidate, and the Republicans ran a candidate who pretended to be for the battlers.
The current situation is portrayed as just Trump’s ego stopping Biden getting on with the job, but that does not explain why 70 million people still voted for Trump and are very angry. Poorer Americans have a lot to be upset about. Biden was considered ‘past it’ by both the common people and the Democrat Establishment until the younger candidates were failing against Sanders. Biden was suddenly wheeled in to both save the poor people and get the big end of town’s money.
The Democrats scraped in this time. But this does not make Biden a good candidate. It is by no means certain that Biden has any idea how to fix the problem, or if he would be allowed to fix it if he did. Conservative Democrats put him there, and he is likely to have a Republican majority in the Senate, which neither wants progressive change, nor wants to help Biden at all. So enjoy the fine rhetoric while you can.
Even in defeat Trump will have enough power within the Republican party to destroy the pre-selection chances of any Republican who upsets him, so he may continue strutting around making up realities, with an overall effect like a bull in a china shop. But Trump in a strange sort of way was a beacon of hope, who recognised the discontent and tapped it. Though he did little to improve the situation, he gave hope that the Establishment could be defied and this role may continue.
The crunch time will come soon, when the disillusioned voters realise the situation. Will there be a systematic response, marches or vandalism? Time will tell.
It is accepted that the US voting system is so rigged that there is little chance for any candidate not backed by huge amount of money, and the system is hugely rigged in favour of the small states which favours the Republicans. The question is whether the voting system can be fixed for next time- it is hard to see how. It is stuck in the Constitution. The welfare system, the health system, the education system, the wages system and the competitiveness of American industry all seem very complex, with their solutions in different sectors of the economy. Biden is better than Trump, but that was a very low bar.