Which part of Scotland is the most anti-Trump? Answer: East Dunbartonshire. According to a Politico poll, 85.3 per cent of people in East Dunbartonshire would vote for Joe Biden in the US election today if they could, the most anti-Trump and pro-Biden constituency not just in Scotland but in the whole of the UK. Scotland is the most anti-Trump nation within the UK, but there is no single constituency in the whole of Britain that would back the US President. Luckily for The Donald, he’s got more chance of winning the hearts of Americans.
It’s Election Day in the United States, and the main images coming out so far have been of boarded up shops in preparation for the fall-out from whatever is to come over the next 24 hours or so. Indeed, there are many things about this election which hint at American decline. The fact that Washington NGOs used to monitoring elections in developing world countries, like the International Crisis Group and the Carter Center, have turned their focus on their home nation. The generalised anxiety that exists about whether there will be a peaceful transition of power following the result. That this election comes in the context of more than 1,000 deaths everyday in the US from covid-19. The intense debate about the role of powerful social media firms in deciding what content users can and can’t access, including banning articles from established media outlets. All of it points to a dysfunctional society in which democratic norms can no longer be taken for granted.
That said, this election is likely to have the highest turnout in over a century. Conflict and polarisation does tend to get people engaged in politics who otherwise might not see the point. The expansion of voting options has increased opportunities for participation. A study by the Brennan Center has found significantly more states have introduced voting laws expanding voting rights than states that have sought more restrictive access to democracy. Those pining for a return to the consensus politics of the 1990s are missing the point – not only is that in many ways undesirable, in an era of two massive economic crises in just over a decade it is entirely unrealistic. When the economy is turned upside down, inevitably politics follows. The real question isn’t whether Biden will “Make America Normal Again”, it is what shape will conflict and polarisation take if the US is entering a post-Trump era?
A Biden presidency will be won without an obvious electoral mandate. He has talked of the return of “light” over “darkness” and an end to “the chaos”, learning from the failure of Clinton’s campaign in 2016, which was quite policy wonk-ish and failed to build an overarching theme that could unite a coalition of support. It’s hard to think of any signature Biden policy, though he has went out of his way to spurn ideas like a Green New Deal. In fact, the only thing we can be sure of about a Biden presidency is that Wall Street and Silicon Valley will expect their huge backing for him to be returned in kind. The fact Biden isn’t Trump will be enough for many at the moment, but that isn’t sustainable for long in a health and economic crisis of this severity.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Trump could still win – the polls have been wrong before. Confident predictions are a mugs game, but if we can make any about the US following this election it’s that “the chaos” is unlikely to stop.
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