Neither red nor blue states, he believes in the United States of America, says President-Elect Joe Biden. If only it could be that simple in a sharply polarized and divided America, even while the bad faith and dark shadow of a ‘sexist, racist, misogynist, white supremacist, capitalist’ like Donald Trump seems to be lingering and looming large across the vast emptiness of the American countryside, which has overwhelmingly voted for the incumbent president. Post-Trump, certainly, the unhappy aftermath and the bad taste of his presidency is not going to evaporate so easily. It will stay, like a bad hangover or the deathly virus of Covid19 pandemic, which is killing tens of thousands of cases every day.
The vote count has been unprecedented for both the candidates in the history of American elections. The close fight in the swing states have been unpredictable and unmatched, with Joe Biden winning in impossible circumstances in what were inevitably presumed as red or orange states. The postal ballot, yet again went overwhelmingly in support of the democratic nomination, as the voters wanted to avoid polling booths in Covid times. This may have taken a long time, but the old-style paper ballots are still reliable and trustworthy for many Americans. Thus proving yet again the claims by noisy sections in Indian society that EVMs have been and can be manipulated by the ruling party.
What is significant however is what Bernie Sanders said after the Biden victory: that the campaign won because of the massive outreach and hard work of the progressive people, including students and community workers, at the grassroots, in a hard and relentless door-to-door outreach across the suburbs, towns and cities
Clearly, more people have come out in support of Trump this time, and surely all of them are neither racists, misogynists or white supremacists, though a larger pattern of this regressive ideology can be clearly discerned in his toxic campaign as much as in its support base, including amidst the so-called white armed militia roaming the streets of sundry towns and suburbs refusing to accept the results if Trump loses. Besides, its more than clear that the entire scattered spectrum of rightwing and extreme white supremacists, overtly and tacitly cultivated and encouraged by the Trump campaign, have united in an incredible show of force in support of an ideological system which reeks of incipient violence, patriarchy, obsessive white and colonial nostalgia of old times, and Ku Klux Klan kind of hardened racist ideology. It would be no surprise therefore if a survey could point out in the future that a large number of such supporters still might cherish in their political unconscious the archaic and regressive value system of going back to slavery, slave trade, the genocide of natives, and general barbarism and racism of the past.
Amongst large sections of the uneducated and perhaps unemployed white working class, including women, there has been a backlash against the massive and relentless Black Lives Matter movement, and solid support to the anti-immigrants plank floated by Trump since his first election campaign in 2016. That there is mass unemployment, the health sector is totally loaded in support of the rich, the economy is not looking up, and the nostalgic slogan of Make America Great Again is as fake as ever, has been ignored by this huge population which has backed Trump. Nor do they really care a damn for the 2,30,000 people who have died of Covid, mostly Blacks and Latinos, including in big cities like New York, that 100,000 are currently inflicted by the deadly virus, and that experts like Antony Fauci has predicted that the toll could go up to 500,000 by end of the next year, and this deathly pandemic is not going anywhere. Fauci has also categorically stated, despite Trump’s rantings and state of denial, that masks and physical distancing, as much as washing hands and sanitisers, are still the easiest and most effective antidotes against this deathly disease, even as there is no sign of a vaccine in the near future.
The silver lining and historic moment of optimism lies in what Biden has categorically stated in his ‘victory’ speech. He has said that his victory is a result of a huge and incredible rainbow coalition of democrats, sections of republicans, progressives, women’s groups, grassroots activists and campaigners, transgender and LGBT collectives, Asians, immigrants, whites, and especially the African American community, among others. Not surprisingly, almost 90 per cent of the Black community has voted for Biden. Surprisingly, however, a large number of Hispanics, including predictably Cubans who were wooed by Trump’s fake narrative of inevitable the arrival of socialism in America, have voted against Biden. Even Kamala Harris, who will be the first woman Vice President, has especially mentioned about Blacks and Asians, and thanked them for their overwhelming support, even though the educated young, from 19 to 30, have voted against Trump and for Biden.
While Biden swears by a united America, which includes even those who have voted against him and for Trump, this is a dream, which might suffer its bouts of insomnia and sleepwalking. There have been dominant fears of an armed white backlash after Trump’s loss and it is possible he may refuse to accept the result, despite the muted and overt declarations of some republicans that declaring the election process as a fraud is out of place. Many parts of the country are on the edge, reminding of the difficult times soon after Trump won for the first time in 2016.
Racism and police violence against the African-American community has only grown over the years and has become entrenched, even while the resistance too has been kaleidoscopic and widespread, marking a synthesis in the strong, both fringe and mainstream, ‘Antifa’ movement across the American landscape. No one knows really what will be the future of America with Biden at the helm. Will he be a gentle healer and a moderate, centrist, liberal middle class symbol of reconciliation and peace and harmony, resolving difficult contradictions and conflict zones, which are historically determined and apparently unchangeable, in his short tenure – only time will tell. Or, will a ravaged nation, under a desperately Rightwing and divisive leadership in the last few years, move towards healing and harmony: well, it’s an uncanny conjecture.
While Biden swears by a United America which includes even those who have voted against him and for Trump, this is a dream which might suffer its bouts of insomnia and sleepwalking. There have been dominant fears of an armed white backlash if Trump loses and refuses to accept the result
Surely, things will change. The damage will take a long time to be undone – something so familiar in contemporary India. There are signs of hope even in a dismal scenario.
The Biden victory is a signal that moderation is still a democratic option when extremism and fanatic insanity rules the roost. That the late advanced capitalism of America loaded so brazenly in favour of the microscopic super rich billionaires will continue, is no doubt. That education and health will elude the majority of the people too is not a doubt. What is significant however is what Bernie Sanders said after the Biden victory: that the campaign won because of the massive outreach and hard work of the progressive people, including students and community workers, at the grassroots, in a hard and relentless door-to-door outreach across the suburbs, towns and cities. Many Democrats opposed to Sanders and Alexandra Occasia Cortez (AOC) claim that their party suffered due to their identification with socialism. The loss in Florida, according to them, was due to Sanders and AOC’s aggressive politics. However, this progressive dimension can no more be ignored because the millennials and the young are the scaffolding of this new semi-Utopian dream, as it was when they backed Sanders wholeheartedly last time and this time too. Sanders is giving a revolutionary agenda to the new government with a 100 days deadline: of radical institutional and policy changes in support of the poor, the workers, women, students, health and education, social security, etc, against vast economic disparity, homelessness, unemployment and impoverishment, as much as to put a tight leash on the super rich who call the shots in all regimes
For all you know, this might be a sign of hope in what is surely not the ‘greatest nation in the world’