We still could not believe it – that notwithstanding the many areas in which the incumbent fell short, that the 2020 general election in the United States was so very close. Last we heard, Democratic challenger Joe Biden had amassed 264 electoral college votes to President Donald Trump’s 214, as of 6:30 last evening. There are a few big States like Georgia, Pennsylvania and North Carolina yet to be called. And Trump is leading in those. Talk about a nail-biter!
Interestingly, this dramatic finish came after the pundits and the pollsters had been blaring during the campaign that Biden had opened as much as a double-digit lead on his rival. Seems, they were wrong. Much as they were back in 2016 when they’d predicted a Hillary Clinton victory. As you can imagine, this time around, the pollsters and talking heads had assured us that they’d recalibrated and changed some of their methodologies to take into account a number of other factors that theretofore had been overlooked. They confidently declared that for 2020, they had it right. We all know how those new methodologies fared. Sigh! Talk about an inexact science!
But let’s go back to election night. The initial euphoria that many of us experienced as the results favouring Biden began to roll in, was soon replaced by an uneasy sense of dread when Trump began to score victories. What was even more disconcerting was that, in many of the yet-to-be-called States, Trump was leading. At one point, in the rather long evening, Trump surpassed Biden in the electoral college votes tally.
This disturbing development prompted the election watch anchors at MSNBC, Rachel Maddow and Brian Williams, to nervously turn to political pundit, James Carville, to reassure apprehensive Democrats that everything would be okay; that Joe Biden would eventually be victorious. The Democrat faithful were told to put away their sharp instruments (a facetious hint that Democrats might hurt themselves if Biden did not prevail), and that they could come down from the window ledges and relax. There was skittish laughter in the studio as Maddow and Williams tried to project confidence with forced levity amidst the unmistakable sense of dread.
Many election watchers eventually retired to their beds for a few hours of fitful sleep. They comforted themselves with the thought that lightning could not possibly strike twice in the same place, and under the same circumstances. They were sure that this was all a nightmare from which they would awaken when morning gilded the sky. Ah yes, the clouds of doom would lift.
As at press time last evening, there was still not a declared winner, never mind that Biden had inched within striking distance. We wish him well. Trump, for his part, has vowed to carry on the fight, even to the Supreme Court, against the many perceived shenanigans that he has claimed marred this election. He is in a dark, combative mood, as are his die-hard supporters who could resort to mayhem, giving vent to their hatred and frustration.
And speaking of Trump supporters, we must confess that we are still quite perplexed that so many millions still choose to inhabit that Trumpian netherworld. Trump cursed everyone that did not agree with him. He fired those of his inner circle who dared voice an opposing opinion. He gave tacit encouragement to rednecks given to racism and intolerance. He hatefully told people of colour that they were from s**thole countries. He called Mexicans ‘thieves, rapists, murderers and drug dealers.’ He endeavoured to build walls rather than bridges. He withdrew the United States from the World Health Organisation (WHO), blaming that august body for colluding with the Chinese on the Covid matter. He withdrew the United States from the Paris Agreement, citing what he called its unfairness to America and American industry and workers. He scuttled the Iran nuclear agreement. He worked assiduously to dismantle Obamacare, not caring in the least that the poor would be adversely affected. In fact, he attempted to reverse every progressive policy implemented by former President Obama. His unseemly obsession with Obama appeared to be personal. (See his discredited ‘birther’ thoughts)
And there’s more. He instituted increasingly tough sanctions and other strong-arm measures against Venezuela and Cuba in an attempt to pander to the powerful Cuban lobby in Florida, and to effect regime change in Venezuela. He downplayed the Covid crisis in its early stages, was loath to wear masks, and ridiculed those who did. He fought with his Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the good Dr Anthony Fauci, and even threatened to fire him. He made a virtue out of unceremoniously firing his aides, much like his actions on his television show, THE APPRENTICE. In fact, the president behaved as though he was still a grade B actor on a television comedy series, rather than the putative leader of the free world. Quite unserious, as evidenced by his feckless response to the Covid crisis, a response, mind you, that challenger Joe Biden has blamed for 200,000 unnecessary deaths in the United States. Look folks, we could go on, and on, and on with a litany of Trump’s indiscretions and intemperate remarks, but that would be superfluous. You get the point.
The scary thing that this election revealed, as did the 2016 contest, is that there are millions of people in the United States who share his racist world view, his hatred of immigrants that do not have blond hair and blue eyes, his rejection of multilateralism, his antipathy towards settled science, and his misguided pursuit of American self-interest at the expense of all else. His nasty and vitriolic rhetoric was also most unhelpful, never mind that his rabid supporters giggled and cheered his follies and foibles. No wonder that he once declared that he could go to the middle of Fifth Avenue in New York and shoot someone, and his supporters would still stand by him in approbation.
But that should all be at an end in the next few hours. Biden stands on the threshold. Here’s hoping that his presidency will live up to its promise, and that American “good will be crowned by brotherhood, from sea to shining sea.” [AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL]
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