By Gwynne Dyer
By the time you read this you may know more than I do as I write it, but some conclusions about the US election are already certain.
First, this has been essentially a re-run of the 2016 presidential election. The precise Electoral College tally and therefore the presidency may still be in doubt, but we already know the popular vote, and it’s about the same ratio as when Hillary Clinton was the Democratic nominee four years ago.
Biden currently has 50% of the votes versus 48% for Trump, and the races in the remaining undecided states are all very close so that ratio is unlikely to change. This means that Biden got at least 3 million more votes than Trump, but that is no more a guarantee of victory than Clinton’s 3 million majority in 2016
So the Electoral College is as big a problem as ever, and the Great Demographic Shift that was going to make a Republican victory impossible is still becalmed somewhere over the horizon.
Secondly, the Republicans are almost certain to keep their majority in the Senate, in which case they can block any new legislation the Democrats want to pass even if Biden does win the presidency. That includes any attempt to tackle the Electoral College issue, which was a fairly forlorn hope in any case.
Not winning the Senate would also mean the Democrats cannot create new Supreme Court judges, which is their only possible way to roll back the Republican strategy of packing that court with conservative appointees (currently a 6-3 majority). In that case Supreme Court decisions that will probably re-ban abortion and dismantle Obama’s healthcare reforms will be impossible to reverse.
Finally, the culture war (mostly without guns) that already obsesses and disfigures the United States will continue. Indeed, it will intensify if Trump loses the election but continues to deny it and claim fraud, as he most certainly will. The battle in the courts will be long and exhausting, and there’s not going to be any ‘closure’ or ‘healing’ in America in the aftermath of the election.
Even if Biden ekes out a win and becomes president, a conclusion about the United States that has been growing elsewhere since 2016 has only been strengthened by this election: America is not to be trusted.
Almost re-electing Donald Trump, after having had the opportunity to observe his behaviour close up for every day (literally) of the past four years, reflects very poorly on the common sense of the American public. If half of them cannot even see through such an obvious fraud, should they really be allowed out without adult supervision?
More importantly, are they to be trusted as partners and/or allies? Biden might rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement (which the US officially quit on Wednesday), for example, but it is actually a treaty and he’ll never get it ratified by the Senate. Obama got around this once by pretending it wasn’t really a treaty, but it’s hard to get away with that trick twice.
The same goes for America’s existing alliances and trade deals. They may be safe under a Biden presidency, but other countries would be unwise to count on them for the long term.
The partners and allies will have to start looking for insurance elsewhere, because it is now clear that Trump was not a fluke. The ‘other America’ is permanently just one roll of the electoral dice away from regaining power, and it is both ugly and unreliable