I don’t often write about politics but 4 years ago I made two posts about the 2016 elections for the President of the United States. One I wrote on the night of the election where I expressed my fears and a second where they were realised. I don’t think we’re seeing a return to the heady days of 2008 when anything seemed possible but for me the 2020 presidential elections were cathartic.
I intended to try and sleep through the early results this time knowing that the initial results were likely to be positive for Trump after the Republican state legislatures in a number of battleground states changed the law to intentionally slow down the counting of postal votes that traditionally swing heavily Democrat.
I was not ready for Florida, two hours of restless sleep were rudely interrupted by my brain jolting me awake only to hear on the World Service that Biden was underperforming Clinton badly and other states were returning results that suggested a major polling error. Memories of 2016 came flooding back and by the morning I was convinced we were looking at another 4 years of Trump and the possible end of what democracy is left in America.
I shouldn’t have worried, even at that dark hour there were cooler heads pointing out that swing states in the midwest were looking good for Biden and the New York Times was predicting that Georgia could swing Democrat for the first time since 1992.
Over the next few days these predictions turned out to be accurate and Biden was projected to be the next President of the United States on Saturday evening UK time.
I’m still processing that announcement and now writing this on the following Tuesday it’s clear that the Republican Party is not going to accept the result. I don’t know what this means for American democracy.
What I do know is how happy I am that America clearly rejected Trump. The margins may look fine in the swing states but that is what makes them swing states. It looks like Biden is heading for a big win in theElectoral College and will lead the popular vote by a large margin. The time since 2016 has seen right wing populism ascendent in a number of countries not least in the United Kingdom, my home. Trump was a hugely potent symbol of that ascendency and this was the first sign that this wave could be broken.
I don’t know what comes next but I am optimistic for the first time in a while.