Trump loses the presidency, but Trumpism lives on

Written By: - Date published: 12:30 am, November 19th, 2020 - 8 comments
Categories: democratic participation, Donald Trump, electoral systems, First Past the Post, Joe Biden, us politics - Tags: , , , , , ,

Originally posted on Nick Kelly’s Blog

Two weeks after one of the most tumultuous elections in US history it is now clear that Joe Biden has won. This was not clear on election night as much of the in-person vote favoured Trump in key swing states. But as the postal votes came in it became clear that in Arizona, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada and Michigan were going with the Biden/Harris ticket. Whilst traditional swing states of Florida and Ohio went to Trump this will not be enough for him to get the required 270 electoral college votes to win.

My previous post outlined the importance to America and the world of a Trump defeat in these elections. It also outlined the many limitations the US political system put in place to make much needed political, social and economic reform in that country difficult (though not impossible). It also highlighted the absurd electoral college system that twice this century has allowed a presidential candidate who received fewer votes than their opponent to win the presidency. The 2020 election could well have been the third such election based on election night results, but postal ballots make it clear that Trump is on his way out. In an election where one of the main dividing issues now is whether or not to believe science, those worried about COVID-19 were more likely to postal vote and thus these votes were more likely to go to the Democrats.

Trump is mounting a legal challenge to the election result claiming the election was rigged. In many cases, the state authorities running the ballot system were under the control of the Republican Party. Trump is unlikely to succeed in any of his legal challenges and even if he does this will unlikely result in him gaining the required 270 points to win. There is little chance of a repeat of the 2000 Presidential election where the Supreme Court ordered the recount of votes in the State of Florida to stop, a disgraceful chapter in the history of US elections and one which exposed how flawed the US system really is.

In 2016 Donald Trump received 62,984,828 votes nationally. In 2020 his national vote increased to 71,927,381. Biden’s apparent victory was down to increased voter turnout nationally and specifically increased turnout and in the swing states listed above. When looking at the results in both Congress and Senate, the Republicans have reduced the Democrats majority in Congress, and the Senate is now split with Republicans only losing one senate race last week and now having a runoff election in January 2021 which will decide which party has control of the upper chamber.

No description available.
The above map gives an interesting break down of votes by demographic.

The projected ‘blue wave’ that many pundits predicted (and this author hoped for, but did not expect) did not eventuate. There are plenty of possible explanations for this but ultimately it comes down to the simple fact that support for Donald Trump and indeed for the Republican Party did not collapse in 2020. If anything, the Republican Party held the line with their base and even won some new support despite a woeful mishandling of the pandemic and having a President who was blatantly dishonest and self-serving. This is disappointing, but not at all surprising. Trumpism did not just come out of nowhere, and nor is it likely to disappear anytime soon.

The election for Congress saw the Republicans reduce the Democrats majority. This was probably the Democrats greatest failure this election, given they only gained control of Congress two years earlier in 2018 and already their grip on power here is slipping. This is reminiscent of 2006, where Nancy Pelosi led the Democrats to victory during the Mid-terms as President George W Bush’s popularity was waning. By 2010 the Democrats had lost control of the House in Obama’s first mid-term. Despite the loss, Pelosi remained the Democrat leader in Congress, and in 2018 became the speaker once again when Democrats capitalised on anti-Trump sentiment to gain control of The House. The issue for Pelosi and the team around her in Congress is that twice they have won during mid-terms when opposition to a Republican President is strong. Now a Democrat is President, Pelosi cannot just be an oppositional figure, she and her team need to put forward a policy agenda to address the issues facing the country. Just like when Obama was elected President in 2008, Biden’s win this year is happening in the middle of a serious economic crisis. Democrats in Congress need to be offering policy solutions to this crisis. Now maybe time for new Democratic leadership in Congress that can step up to this challenge.

Doctored Pelosi SOTU video leaves Dems furious at Facebook, Twitter -  Business Insider
Nancy Pelosi tearing up her copy of Donald Trump’s state of the union speech in February 2020.

The Senate currently hangs in the balance with Republicans holding onto more senators this month than expected. In early January 2021 a runoff election will be held for the two Senator seats in the state of Georgia. The race between Biden and Trump was very close in this state which has traditionally been safe Republican. The change in Georgia was down to voter registration and turnout campaigns led by Stacy Abrams who narrowly lost the Georgia Governor race in 2018. This campaign is one Democrats should be looking to replicate nationally as it has been widely praised as successful.

In early 2018 I wrote a blog post about hope in which I said the following about the Obama Presidency of 2009 to 2017:

Obama promised hope and intended to deliver that through the US political system. The problem is that system is flawed. He gave people hope in a political system which could not deliver on the promise.

Hope – A powerful but dangerous tool, April 2018

When trying to understand US politics we need to understand that it is indeed a flawed and inflexible system. This criticism could be made of most democratic systems, but the flaws in the US are stark and very hard to shift. In another 2018 blog, I wrote about the issue of Gun Control, a prime example of where the US system, despite public opinion has successfully blocked any form of gun control for decades.

In August this year, Rolling Stone Magazine published an article by Anthropologist Wade Davies called The Unraveling of America. I would recommend anyone who has not yet read this to do so. In this article Wade outlines how the COVID-19 pandemic has furthered the decline of the United States. Wade claims that one-fifth of all COVID-19 deaths were from that country. He highlights how the United States has lost its moral authority on the world stage, citing the below example:

Trump’s performance and America’s crisis deflected attention from China’s own mishandling of the initial outbreak in Wuhan, not to mention its move to crush democracy in Hong Kong. When an American official raised the issue of human rights on Twitter, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, invoking the killing of George Floyd, responded with one short phrase, “I can’t breathe.”

The Unraveling of America  
Anthropologist Wade Davis on how COVID-19 signals the end of the American era. Rolling Stone August 2020.

And indeed, the Black Lives Matter Movement has like COVID-19 shown the world that the United States Government is neither interested nor capable of looking after its own population. Given this it is little wonder many throughout the world no longer view it as a moral authority on the world stage. Wade also argues that Donald Trump is a symptom of the decline, rather than the cause of it.

On the morning of the US election results, the BBC Today Show interviewed former UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt. He expressed concern that an uncertain result would be used by dictators in countries like China to discredit democracy. The reality is that the United States is a poor example of a functioning democracy in 2020. The country’s widespread voter suppression, its antiquated and undemocratic voting system, its cumbersome and difficult to change constitution, its poor record on climate change, its institutional and systemic racism, its increasing inequality and last but not least its shocking record on the international stage of supporting dictators like Pinochet and Suharto, discredit it as any sort of moral authority. When looking for examples of modern, functioning democracies we should look at places like Germany, Scandinavian nations like Norway or Sweden, New Zealand, Canada, Uruguay and Costa Rica. Even in the United Kingdom, though in recent years has faced considerable challenges in response to Brexit and a fairly ugly General Election in 2019, not to mention a voting system that does not deliver proportional outcomes, the political culture in the UK is still much healthier and far less divisive than in the US.

This is not to beat up on the United States or to say that it does not still have the potential to play a positive role in the world. The point is that for the United States to do this it needs significant reform. Biden, even if he gains a majority in the Senate will not be able to deliver this in one term. And the level of opposition this administration will face internally from Trump/Republican Party supporters is formidable. But this too can change. In 2020 increased voter turnout stopped Trump getting a second term and may still help the Democrats narrowly win a senate majority if Georgia goes their way. Hope can be dangerous if it gives people the false idea that a broken system is ok. But in understanding that there is a fundamental problem, there is then the opportunity for real change, something which would be cause for some cautious optimism. At the very least, the more people understand the problem, the greater the chance of things improving.

8 comments on “Trump loses the presidency, but Trumpism lives on ”

  1. mango 1

    I get the feeling that that there is more trouble ahead and there is still the potential for violence although "Civil War" as some say might be overstating things.

    More broadly I think that the cultural influence of the US will never again be what it was. At one time everything American was regarded as the example for the whole world. Now no sane person would think the US political system is a good example, just like no sane person would want the US healthcare system.

  2. DS 2

    Those maps are not 2020. They are from the Obama era.

    (Trump most certainly won Non-College Whites in Iowa, both times).

  3. Velcro 3

    The US is a representative republic rather than a democracy. The election certainly demonstrated failure of the democratic process, with its industrial scale voting fraud (in favour of the democrat candidate). Following this putsch, the US is now a left wing dictatorship like Venezuela under Chavez

    [The site has been running well, it has been relatively quiet on the troll front, and Moderators like to keep it that way after a stressful 2020 and Election period. If you keep spouting troll-like and denialist comments here, you will be denied access for a while to give us all a well-deserved break from (your) BS. This is your warning – Incognito]

    • Andre 3.1

      The election certainly demonstrated failure of the democratic process, with its industrial scale voting fraud (in favour of the democrat candidate).

      Do you have any evidence for this assertion about “industrial scale fraud (in favour of the democrat candidate)”? It's currently being made frequently in many places, by people and groups whose relationship with facts and truth appear to be only occasional and accidental.

      But so far precisely zero evidence has been presented anywhere that I'm aware of. In particular, precisely zero evidence has been presented in court, where simply making shit up actually comes with consequences.

      However, there have been many documented instances of Repug attempts to suppress people from casting their legitimate votes. Such as voter roll purges, limiting ballot drop locations, reducing numbers of polling locations etc.

    • Incognito 3.2

      See my Moderation note @ 5:52 AM.

  4. Velcro 4

    Hey Andre, have you been living under a log? It’s all there on a variety of reputable sites. Which do not include CNN or CBC or MSNBC or Al Jaz. Not so sure about your claims, though

    • Andre 4.1

      Then put up some links.

      Until you back up your assertions, you're just some fact-free random saying shit on da webz. For all we know, you might be getting your ideas straight from Hannity in his cosy spot several feet up Donnie Dingleberry's rectum.

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    This column expands on a Werewolf column published by Scoop on Friday Routinely, Winston Peters is described as the kingmaker who gets to decide when the centre right or the centre-left has a turn at running this country. He also plays a less heralded but equally important role as the ...
    4 days ago
  • The New Government’s Agreements
    Last Friday, almost six weeks after election day, National finally came to an agreement with ACT and NZ First to form a government. They also released the agreements between each party and looking through them, here are the things I thought were the most interesting (and often concerning) from the. ...
    4 days ago
  • How many smokers will die to fund the tax cuts?
    Maori and Pasifika smoking rates are already over twice the ‘all adult’ rate. Now the revenue that generates will be used to fund National’s tax cuts. Photo: Getty ImagesTL;DR: The devil is always in the detail and it emerged over the weekend from the guts of the policy agreements National ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    4 days ago
  • How the culture will change in the Beehive
    Perhaps the biggest change that will come to the Beehive as the new government settles in will be a fundamental culture change. The era of endless consultation will be over. This looks like a government that knows what it wants to do, and that means it knows what outcomes ...
    PolitikBy Richard Harman
    4 days ago
  • No More Winnie Blues.
    So what do you think of the coalition’s decision to cancel Smokefree measures intended to stop young people, including an over representation of Māori, from taking up smoking? Enabling them to use the tax revenue to give other people a tax cut?David Cormack summed it up well:It seems not only ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    5 days ago
  • 2023 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #47
    A chronological listing of news and opinion articles posted on the Skeptical Science  Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, Nov 19, 2023 thru Sat, Nov 25, 2023.  Story of the Week World stands on frontline of disaster at Cop28, says UN climate chief  Exclusive: Simon Stiell says leaders must ‘stop ...
    5 days ago
  • Some of it is mad, some of it is bad and some of it is clearly the work of people who are dangerous ...
    On announcement morning my mate texted:Typical of this cut-price, fake-deal government to announce itself on Black Friday.What a deal. We lose Kim Hill, we gain an empty, jargonising prime minister, a belligerent conspiracist, and a heartless Ayn Rand fanboy. One door closes, another gets slammed repeatedly in your face.It seems pretty ...
    More Than A FeildingBy David Slack
    5 days ago
  • “Revolution” is the threat as the Māori Party smarts at coalition government’s Treaty directi...
    Buzz from the Beehive Having found no fresh announcements on the government’s official website, Point of Order turned today to Scoop’s Latest Parliament Headlines  for its buzz. This provided us with evidence that the Māori Party has been soured by the the coalition agreement announced yesterday by the new PM. “Soured” ...
    Point of OrderBy Bob Edlin
    6 days ago
  • The Good, the Bad, and the even Worse.
    Yesterday the trio that will lead our country unveiled their vision for New Zealand.Seymour looking surprisingly statesmanlike, refusing to rise to barbs about his previous comments on Winston Peters. Almost as if they had just been slapstick for the crowd.Winston was mostly focussed on settling scores with the media, making ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    6 days ago
  • When it Comes to Palestine – Free Speech is Under Threat
    Hi,Thanks for getting amongst Mister Organ on digital — thanks to you, we hit the #1 doc spot on iTunes this week. This response goes a long way to helping us break even.I feel good about that. Other things — not so much.New Zealand finally has a new government, and ...
    David FarrierBy David Farrier
    6 days ago
  • Thank you Captain Luxon. Was that a landing, or were we shot down?
    Hello! Here comes the Saturday edition of More Than A Feilding, catching you up on the past week’s editions.Also in More Than A FeildingFriday The unboxing And so this is Friday and what have we gone and done to ourselves?In the same way that a Christmas present can look lovely under the ...
    More Than A FeildingBy David Slack
    6 days ago
  • Cans of Worms.
    “And there’ll be no shortage of ‘events’ to test Luxon’s political skills. David Seymour wants a referendum on the Treaty. Winston wants a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Labour’s handling of the Covid crisis. Talk about cans of worms!”LAURIE AND LES were very fond of their local. It was nothing ...
    6 days ago
  • Disinformation campaigns are undermining democracy. Here’s how we can fight back
    This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article. Misinformation is debated everywhere and has justifiably sparked concerns. It can polarise the public, reduce health-protective behaviours such as mask wearing and vaccination, and erode trust in science. Much of misinformation is spread not ...
    6 days ago
  • Peters as Minister
    A previous column looked at Winston Peters biographically. This one takes a closer look at his record as a minister, especially his policy record.1990-1991: Minister of Māori Affairs. Few remember Ka Awatea as a major document on the future of Māori policy; there is not even an entry in Wikipedia. ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    7 days ago
  • The New Government: 2023 Edition
    So New Zealand has a brand-spanking new right-wing government. Not just any new government either. A formal majority coalition, of the sort last seen in 1996-1998 (our governmental arrangements for the past quarter of a century have been varying flavours of minority coalition or single-party minority, with great emphasis ...
    7 days ago
  • The unboxing
    And so this is Friday and what have we gone and done to ourselves?In the same way that a Christmas present can look lovely under the tree with its gold ribbon but can turn out to be nothing more than a big box holding a voucher for socks, so it ...
    More Than A FeildingBy David Slack
    7 days ago
  • A cruel, vicious, nasty government
    So, after weeks of negotiations, we finally have a government, with a three-party cabinet and a time-sharing deputy PM arrangement. Newsroom's Marc Daalder has put the various coalition documents online, and I've been reading through them. A few things stand out: Luxon doesn't want to do any work, ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • Hurrah – we have a new government (National, ACT and New Zealand First commit “to deliver for al...
    Buzz from the Beehive Sorry, there has been  no fresh news on the government’s official website since the caretaker trade minister’s press statement about the European Parliament vote on the NZ-EU Free Trade Agreement. But the capital is abuzz with news – and media comment is quickly flowing – after ...
    Point of OrderBy Bob Edlin
    1 week ago
  • Christopher Luxon – NZ PM #42.
    Nothing says strong and stable like having your government announcement delayed by a day because one of your deputies wants to remind everyone, but mostly you, who wears the trousers. It was all a bit embarrassing yesterday with the parties descending on Wellington before pulling out of proceedings. There are ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    1 week ago
  • Coalition Government details policies & ministers
    Winston Peters will be Deputy PM for the first half of the Coalition Government’s three-year term, with David Seymour being Deputy PM for the second half. Photo montage by Lynn Grieveson for The KākāTL;DR: PM-Elect Christopher Luxon has announced the formation of a joint National-ACT-NZ First coalition Government with a ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    1 week ago
  • “Old Coat” by Peter, Paul & Mary.
     THERE ARE SOME SONGS that seem to come from a place that is at once in and out of the world. Written by men and women who, for a brief moment, are granted access to that strange, collective compendium of human experience that comes from, and belongs to, all the ...
    1 week ago

  • New Zealand welcomes European Parliament vote on the NZ-EU Free Trade Agreement
    A significant milestone in ratifying the NZ-EU Free Trade Agreement (FTA) was reached last night, with 524 of the 705 member European Parliament voting in favour to approve the agreement. “I’m delighted to hear of the successful vote to approve the NZ-EU FTA in the European Parliament overnight. This is ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Further humanitarian support for Gaza, the West Bank and Israel
    The Government is contributing a further $5 million to support the response to urgent humanitarian needs in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel, bringing New Zealand’s total contribution to the humanitarian response so far to $10 million. “New Zealand is deeply saddened by the loss of civilian life and the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago

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