4 November 2020   6 comments

I did not raise my glass at 10:30 last night. Like many others, I was stunned by what unfolded. My prediction on the outcome of the election was significantly wide of the mark. Right now, it appears as if Biden is within striking distance of receiving 270 electoral votes but it would be premature to declare that he is the victor. I suspect that there will be many obstacles to a smooth transition to a Biden presidency. But everyone should be very suspicious of anything that I predict.

The reasons for my ill-fated predictions seemed obvious to me at the time I wrote them down and I genuinely do not believe that I was merely projecting my own biases. To me, the failure to respond effectively to the COVID-19 pandemic seemed clear and well-substantiated. In comparisons to other countries, such as South Korea, China, and Taiwan, the US situation is abysmal. I thought that the poor performance of the Trump Administration in what should be considered a very important matter would make Americans think seriously about getting new leadership. And I outlined all my other reasons for thinking that the outcome would be a convincing victory for the Democrats.

I am now stuck in the very uncomfortable position of not understanding at all the reasons why so many Americans support Trump and the Republican Party. The 2016 election was difficult for me to accept, but I thought I understood the anger and resentment that many Americans had toward the two parties. Trump represented a sharp divergence from the American political tradition and his election was for me confirmation that the American people wanted a decisive break from the old politics. Trump was the first Third-Party candidate to be elected President in American history. Indeed, elections in other countries, such as in France and in Great Britain, tended to validate the idea that many in the world were looking for something other than the headlong sprint into a fully globalized economy.

But the closeness of the election in 2020 undermines that explanation. Americans had four years to test out the “new” politics under Trump. And all the attributes that I thought were disqualifying–the xenophobia, the racism, the disregard of the environment, and the amplified economic inequality–are apparently not held to be negative to many of my fellow citizens.

So I am adrift. I pretend to be an analyst but I do not understand or comprehend the way the world actually appears to be to many of the people I purport to analyze. I live in a world where deaths from a virus can be considered “alternative” facts. I am, to crib the title of the novel by Robert Heinlein, a Stranger in a Strange Land. It is a disquieting feeling.

Posted November 4, 2020 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

6 responses to “4 November 2020

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  1. I’m sickened, of course; struggling, horrified. The only thing that brings me hope is the discrepancy between the votes and the exit polls. Both in 2016 and this year, people were saying they hadn’t voted for Trump when obviously a lot of them had. They like what he stands for but know that they’re wrong to do so. I think it shows that there is a sense of shame. Can we work with that?

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  2. The GOP and many of its adherents (except a few) have become consumed by that Southern Strategy they adopted in the 70s. I’ve been watching a lot of PBS documentaries lately on the Civil rights movement and it was striking to me how so many of those images from the 60s remind me of the Trump and Alt-right tallies and pandemic protests that occurred this year. The main differences between the images from the 60s and the ones from now is that people now dress differently than they did back then, and the photos are in color now and the ones back them are in black and white. The anger and virulence on the faces? The same.

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  3. As you know I was not optimistic and was afraid that Trump might be re-elected. Trump supporters are often also from the militia anti government contingent and therefore anti-mask and/or think covid is a conspiracy to control us. I was hoping that he would lose the professional women, the Hispanic and those who normally don’t vote, could give Biden the election. It seems that is uncertain times many look to the macho leader who gives them someone they can blame for their troubles. Super patriots, isolationist, racists and back to the patriarchy all gather to put big daddy dictators in power. The democratic party leadership needs to stop being polite if they want to stop this nightmare.

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  4. It is Trump’s unintentional gift to the world to expose the tragic ignorance of so many well-meaning people, people terrified of socialism, but with no idea what it means, people oblivious to the systemic racism at the foundations of our nation, not because they are mean spirited or greedy, but because it has been so omnipresent as to be invisible, people who are unable to recognize the connection between our consumer culture and the damage it has done to the planet we inhabit. Even if Biden were to win by the margins predicted, we are faced with an electorate that is appallingly benighted and happily so. Is it really so hard to see how they fell into these attitudes? No. The more difficult and more relevant question is how to address the extremity of moral and ethical poverty we find ourselves in, the roots of which can be found in the wealth we have accumulated at the expense of our brothers and sisters of color, including indigenous folk.

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    • I cannot disagree with your comment. But the list of concerns is overwhelming. It is important to realize all that is wrong with contemporary political culture but solving all those problems at once is difficult. I will take the first step of removing a serious threat to American democracy and then proceed to the next major problem, which for me is economic inequality. I could have chosen climate change or systemic racism. I am not a good multi-tasker.

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  5. The list is overwhelming,as you say, and my wife will tell you that multitasking is is a cognitive impossibility for me! As a result I have experienced the last four years as an ordeal which may have had an impact on my longevity similar to the current administration’s effect on the health of American democracy. God willing, that threat will be diminished in January.

    I have no beef of any kind with a one-issue-at-a-time approach, in part because all the issues are connected at their core. Any meaningful reduction of economic inequality is dependent on addressing systemic racism, and because the suffering climate change imposes disproportionately on the poor, it is impossible to correct economic injustice without tackling climate change.

    Your blog is my primary
    source of information on global politics. Thank you.

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