Not writing about the US Election feels like it would be a deliberate choice to avoid it, so I feel like I have to write about it, but equally I don’t want to. I don’t want to in part because everybody else on the internet is already writing about it today and really, I don’t think my take is especially worthy of having any attention paid to it. The bigger reason though, is that I try to always end on some kind of positive note whenever I write these blogs, pretty much purely for my own sake; I am always trying to find the good in the situation, so that I don’t come away from it feeling like everything is terrible, which I am prone to doing.
But there is no positive spin that I want to put on the results of the election so far (at the time of writing, Biden still seems favoured to win, but a large amount of that is based on a high portion of postal votes in Pennsylvania being blue - if Trump goes on to win then everything is even worse than it already is). Even though I don’t live in the US, it is still held up as the pinnacle of Western democracy, the crown jewel of capitalism, what other societies should aspire to be like. Everyone wants a piece of the American dream, regardless of whether or not they live there. Or at least, they did, until four years ago.
The rhetoric coming out of American politics seems to be more powerful than any other, and influences perceptions of the general public, if not elected officials in other jurisdictions too. Obviously I have no way of knowing for sure, but I think it’s reasonable to suggest that the anti-lockdown movement in the UK has been emboldened or even inspired by its American counterpart. Even Boris Johnson’s truly insane national lockdown u-turn feels like it might have been feasible because he’s seen how Trump has been able to say literally anything, with complete disregard for his own scientific advisors, and face seemingly no accountability for it. Speaking of scientific advisors, Johnson was accused of “giving in” to them, which again feels like a sentiment imported from directly across the pond.
I can’t even give Trump the credit of saying he has run on a campaign of division; he has run on a campaign of hate. He has refused to condemn white supremacy, he has incited his followers to violence both racial and partisan, he is a climate change denier at the helm of the second most polluting country in the world, he has shown in his handling of the pandemic that he values the health of the economy more than the health of his fellow Americans. If he had better fashion sense, he’d make a passable comic book villain. Everyone I have spoken to in the run up to the election agrees with me (or at least they do broadly enough that they would vote for Biden given the opportunity to do so), and I think that has left me with a very ignorant idea of what a Trump voter looks like. I had assumed they were either sufficiently wealthy that a Republican tax policy would be of significant personal benefit to them or are, for lack of a better term, rednecks. I didn’t think those two categories combined would be able to muster even close to the numbers that Republicans have in this election, so obviously I have got something very wrong. There must be something appealing to people closer to the centre of the bell curve, I just have absolutely no idea what it is. Maybe that’s important for me to try to find out - when trying to discuss closer to home the issues that have been so divisive during the run up to the election, I need to understand why somebody might hold an opposing view to mine, rather than just assuming it’s some deep character flaw of theirs.
No positive to end on, sorry. The best that can offer is that tomorrow I’ll write about something else that will have a positive note to end on. Unless Trump wins. But let’s not talk about that.