CORRESPONDENCE FROM USABiden, the anti-Trump vote

Daniel Amaria
English Section /

Biden, the anti-Trump vote

Ever since the major news networks in America announced that a Biden victory was inevitable, New York has been partying. People have been blocking cars with street parties, opening up bottles of champagne, dancing, and, in this multi-ethnic city, playing every sort of festive music in every imaginable language off of speakers on every street. After four years of what many people from America's major cities felt was rule by a madman, perhaps we deserve our day of enjoyment. However, the problems of the United States are far from over.

First, the volume of the attack on democracy in this country is unprecedented, perhaps since the country was founded in 1776. While many Republicans are remaining quiet about Trump's refusal to accept the election results, a surprising number of commentators are demanding Trump engages in various complex legal schemes to remain in power. While these are unlikely to work - and are too technical to describe in a short article - they would effectively amount to a legal coup to over-ride the vote of the people, which, in most cases, these conservative commentators want. A number of the most fiery right wing commentators are calling all Biden voters "traitors" - which, given that the majority of Americans have voted for him, shows the level of their committment to democracy - and even the President's son enigmatically called for "Total War."

It is therefore inexplicable to large parts of this country how, despite Trump's refusal to accept the basic rules of democracy, people continue to vote for him. Forget policy, Biden's voters say (who are a coalition of educated, wealthy whites and minority groups) - even if you disagree with what Biden is offering, how can you support an enemy of the democratic process? The response, from the Trump camp, is that the claim of Biden and his supporters that we live in a Democracy are empty words, that the elections have been stolen, that the system is corrupt and biased and against the poor man, the common man, the worker, and the forgotten man. This is the kind of discourse one used to hear from Vadim Tudor, only made with somewhat more evidence, and with much more polish and education.

The second problem, then, is how American Democracy came to this feeble state, and what Biden and his team intend to do to fix it. They have one important deficit - they are the same people who put the problem into the country in the first place. "I won because of you" Trump taunted Biden in the debate - and to some extent, this is clearly true. Unfortunately - and here is where the terrible tragedy of the last four years is located - America is in this position not because of her vices, but because of her virtues. Our belief in free trade and openness have wiped out the industrial class with a flow of Chinese goods. Our belief in innovation and free enterprise has led to large Internet companies destroying - because of their better service and efficiency - thousands of smaller business whose workers are unemployed. Our fight against racism has led to many poor white Americans feeling left out without a supporter. Our politicians and media look in wonder as autocratic regimes such as China overtake us economically, despite - or perhaps because of - their contempt for free speech, for individual rights, for what we consider the basis of human dignity. And in the meantime, our working poor, our deteriorating school systems, our nearly abandoned factory towns in the middle of the country - all constantly remind us that freedom and dignity do not put food on the plate.

Shockingly, exit polls in this election show that Whites answered the call to return the country to normalcy, and Biden's victory was based on a drop in White support for Trump. However, more Blacks voted for Trump than in 2016, and even more surprisingly, more Latin Americans, despite Trump's constant rhetoric against them. It is estimated that more than 40% of Mexican Americans in Texas voted for Trump, which caused Biden that state, and leaves the conventional political analysts of America scratching their heads. Clearly, they have responded, not to the rhetoric of racism and exclusion (which Trump's supporters, similar to Vadim's supporters years ago, say "he doesn't mean" anyway) but to the narrow benefit of a new economic nationalism, one which closes the borders, ends our openness and willing to experiment as a country and replaces - in the words of some commentators here - our frontier with a wall.

Trump appealed to people who saw that our good deeds were not going unpunished precisely because he was a caricature of what many people hate about America: crude, uncultured, brutal, nationalist in bizarre ways, and openly contemptuous of the rest of the world. For now, Americans have realized that being rescued from our own virtues does not mean giving up to vice. Yet many people believe that we just didn't give viciousness enough of a try, and Biden will now return us to to the virtuous path to destruction. His challenge will be to rescue us from our strengths without becoming a model of our weaknesses. He appears - as much as one can now a politician - to be a decent man, a loyal man - even, as rare as this for world leaders anywhere, a kind man. However, in the next four years we will see if he can also be a shrewd man. The future of America depends on it. 

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