On Biden-Harris victory at last : some gains for American democracy ; some new lessons to figure out

Nov 8th, 2020 | By | Category: In Brief

COUNTERWEIGHTS EDITORS, TORONTO, NOV 8, 2020, 2 AM ET : As with so many others our first reaction was just relief. At least some big enough part of what you wanted to happen was probably going to happen. But until it was confirmed …

Most of our fellow workers, friends, and neighbours, in this North American city where most residents do not vote in American elections, seem more relaxed. Whatever other new truths liberals and democrats must make some new peace with, Joe Biden will be President of the USA — starting this coming January 20, 2021 and lasting the ensuing four years.

As often noted, what could happen on the losing side between now and two-and-a-half months from now (during the bizarre lame-duck feature of the USA’s late 18th century American constitutionalism) could be disturbing at best. But at the moment there does not seem too much altogether serious evidence that this is likely to get altogether out of hand.

Back just before election day our own Citizen X observed that whether any “seminal grand victory for American democracy and American progress is in the cards of who knows just what lies ahead … is the great remaining mystery.”

With some losses in the House, and a Senate whose final composition will depend on two run-off elections in Georgia early in the new year (and a genuinely impressive if not winning final surge of support for Donald Trump himself ), it is now clear enough that this seminal grand victory for the side of US political culture we like best did not happen.

Not entirely unlike the 2018 midterms, however, there does seem some sense in which as the depths of the 2020 election start to set in, the gains made for American democracy and American progress start to improve. The “Biden-Harris” ticket is ahead by more than 4 million (or almost 3%) in the popular vote, as matters stand. And it has decisively won the electoral college.

Whatever else, Democrats do still have the majority in the House, and they could in theory even win the barest edge in the Senate early next year. There is a woman and a Black Asian as vice-president for the first time. Whatever finally happens in Georgia, Democrats strongly backed by African Americans have opened new ground for the future in the Old South.

Just how badly President Trump and his most ardent supporters will behave between now and January 20, 2021 remains a mystery that will only be solved as it happens. But the happy, peaceful celebrations in the big cities the Trump Republicans are so afraid of have sounded one upbeat note. And President-elect Biden has already started reaching out to the many Americans who voted for Trump — and to the pandemic now especially raging in many red states. We keep remembering 1960, when Richard Nixon came a lot closer to beating the legendary John F. Kennedy than Donald Trump has come to beating Joe Biden in 2020.

(And to summarize a final report just phoned in, a day later : One side of 2020 is the Republicans have survived, to even their own surprise. But the other is now the Democrats have the momentum … for as long as they can figure out how to keep it … starting well with public health in a pandemic … .)

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