Last month, despite what all the opinion polls were forecasting, I predicted gloomily that Donald Trump would probably win a second term in the American presidential election on November 3rd. My gloom was largely rooted in what I called the ‘shy Trumper’ hypothesis, the notion that many people were lying to the pollsters about their voting intentions because they were too embarrassed to admit they were going to vote for a scum-bucket like Trump.
I already knew what I would write about on this blog in the likely event, as I saw it, of Trump’s re-election. I planned to refer to the satirical 1981 novel Hello America by the late, great J.G. Ballard, which is set in 2114 and postulates an ecologically devastated and almost uninhabited United States of America. An expedition from Europe arrives in the wasteland formerly known as the USA and discovers there, among other things, a madman claiming to be both the American president and Charles Manson. I suspected another four years of Trump, whose penchant during the Covid-19 pandemic for summoning his adoring, mask-rejecting, non-distancing supporters to mass campaign rallies suggested a deadly cult-leader on a far greater scale than Manson, would send the USA well on its way to becoming the surreal, dystopian badlands that it is in Ballard’s novel.
Well, as it turned out, the polls did severely underestimate Trump’s support. At the time I write this, he’s accrued more than 70,900,000 votes. Thankfully, however, Joe Biden received even more than that. He’s got just over 75,400,00 votes at the moment and has crossed the 270 college-vote threshold necessary for winning the presidency in the USA’s electoral college system. So Trump seems to be toast. That said, the Orange Malignancy has spent the past few days tweeting and speechifying that he actually won the election, whereas Biden cheated, and has vowed to overturn the results in the courts.
However, that’s unlikely to come to much if the competence displayed so far by Trump’s finest legal minds is anything to go by. At the weekend, for instance, Trump’s lawyer-in-chief Rudy Giuliani and his team flew into Philadelphia intending to hold a press conference to outline their forthcoming legal challenges. Through some mind-melting balls-up, they ended up holding the conference not in the city’s Four Seasons Hotel, but in the parking lot of a gardening centre called Four Seasons Total Landscaping in its outskirts. This was symbolically located between a crematorium and a porno bookstore called Fantasy Island Adult Books. Watching news footage of the conference, I almost expected the centre’s manager to emerge in the middle of it, reveal himself as Borat and exclaim, “Very nice!”
Now while nobody is happier than I am to see Trump ousted from the White House, and I can fully understand why on Saturday when Biden was officially declared president-elect great numbers of people took to the streets of New York, Philadelphia, etc., and started dancing as joyously as the Munchkins did in The Wizard of Oz (1939) after Dorothy’s house landed on top of the Wicked Witch of the East, I’m afraid things are still looking pretty grim for the USA’s future as a democracy. The fact is that nearly half the American electorate, after four years of exposure to the vile, tangerine-skinned creature, were still willing to vote for him.
Let that sink in. Almost half of voters opted for a man who’s presided over the deaths of 237,000-and-counting fellow citizens due to Covid-19 while insisting that it’s just ‘the flu’ and it’ll magically ‘go away’, who’s speculated about how said virus could be neutralised by injecting yourself with disinfectant, who’s contracted the virus himself but still insisted on holding a flurry of superspreading rallies where thousands of his supporters were jammed together in close, virus-friendly proximity. Who’s displayed a complete ignorance of and disregard for science, who’s trashed his country’s environment, who’s helped trash the environment on a global scale too through his lucre-obsessed climate denialism.
Who’s bragged about grabbing women by the ‘pussy’, who’s mocked disabled people, who’s condoned violence against journalists, who’s dismissed whole countries as ‘shitholes’ and whole nationalities as ‘drug dealers, criminals, rapists’. Who’s applauded the supposed fineness of white supremacists, who’s instructed fascist militias to ‘stand by’, who’s emitted a barrage of racist dog-whistles that in Biden’s words are as loud ‘as a foghorn’. Who’s happily played along with the insane conspiracy theories of QAnon whenever he thought it might bolster his support among the extreme-right-wing, tinfoil-hat-wearing fruit-loop brigade.
Who’s cosied up to authoritarian thugs like Putin, Erdogan, Mohammed Bin Salman and the familicidal Kim Jong-Un whilst insulting leaders of long-term democratic allies and showing a particular misogynistic vehemence for female ones like Angela Merkel. Who’s sneered at his country’s war-dead and derided former prisoners of war for the failing of getting ‘captured’, whilst using his family’s influence to escape doing military service himself. Who’s managed to wriggle out of paying any net federal income tax at all in 11 recent years, whilst in 2016 and 2017 paying the laughably meagre sum of $750 per annum, considerably less than what a citizen earning the minimum wage would pay. Who’s continually boasted about his business acumen, whilst according to Forbes magazine in October 2020 owes more than a billion dollars in debt…
And so on, and so forth.
Although some commentators have claimed that the willingness of millions of Americans to vote for a character like Trump, devoid of anything resembling a shred of moral fibre, shows how badly they’ve been ‘left behind’ in this, the era of globalism, I can’t say I find this argument convincing. You’d have to be extremely left behind, and in absolutely dire circumstances, to believe that Trump is your friend and saviour – when it’s obvious to anyone with a quarter of a brain that he despises the poor, whatever their political creed, and is intent only on lining his own pockets and the pockets of his hideous family. I’m afraid that Trump’s massive election turnout is more an indication that a great swathe of the American electorate either has zero moral compass and zero empathy for others or is as dumb as a sack of cement powder.
Into that latter category I’d put the Trump supporter who, since the election went Biden’s way, has been tweeting angrily about the anomaly of five million votes being cast in Georgia despite ‘Georgia’ having a population of only 3.7 million. So far he’s ignored the people who’ve pointed out to him that he’s confusing Georgia the state with Georgia the country.
Unfortunately, President-Elect Biden has his work cut out if he intends to heal the nation and somehow get those millions of Trump fans on board with concepts like decency, fairness, science, working for the common good and loving thy neighbour. Meanwhile, I suspect that the Republican Party, impressed by how Trump’s unrepentant-bastard approach to politics earned him 70 million votes, the second biggest tally by a presidential candidate in US history, will decide to really go for it in 2024 and field as a candidate some 21st century reincarnation of Benito Mussolini.
All in all, I’m afraid, there are still plenty of opportunities for the USA to go completely J.G.
Anyway, for now at least, I’m relieved it’s over. I’m truly fed up with having the past few weeks of my life dominated by a 24/7 obsession with American politics. My partner especially will be relieved that she no longer has to listen to me mansplaining the Byzantine workings of the US electoral college: “…Pennsylvania has 20 electoral votes, so if Biden can get that, it’ll carry him to the 270 threshold he needs to win, but even if Trump gets Pennsylvania in the end, he can still sneak it by winning Nevada, which has 6 votes, and Georgia, which has 16…”
And she’s American.
© Ayrshire Daily News