Current Affairs - November 4, 2020

Even if Biden ends up squeaking out a victory, it’s a huge indictment of him, his campaign, and the politics that he represents that after [230,000] people died, the economy collapsed, and the last 4 years we’ve been led by a fascist game show host the election is this close.

As of the time of this writing, Joe Biden has a lead in enough states that, if present trends hold, he will narrowly win the presidency. This would be a huge relief, because Donald Trump is a monstrosity and four more years of his authoritarian leadership would be an utter disaster for workers, immigrants, and the climate. I would be hugely relieved if Joe Biden became president, not because I think his presidency will in any way be good but because it averts the worst possible catastrophe.

But even assuming Biden is sworn into office, Election Night 2020 was a rude awakening for Democrats, because many of them were hoping to see Donald Trump resoundingly repudiated by the electorate. This did not happen. Turnout massively increased in this election (a greater percentage of eligible voters turned out than in any election since 1900), but this was not because the public rose up in unison to defeat Donald Trump. In fact, millions who didn’t vote for Trump in 2016 voted for him this time. Biden actually appears to have done far worse among certain constituencies than Hillary Clinton did in 2016. Some heavily Hispanic parts of South Texas that broke overwhelmingly for Clinton split far more evenly between Biden and Trump. Trump managed to make inroads among voters of color that I am certain the Biden campaign never thought was possible.

The fact that this election is so close is a serious indictment of the Democratic Party leadership. Hundreds of thousands of people are dead from a pandemic that the Trump administration has handled with the grossest incompetence. My colleague Eli Massey sums things up accurately:

Even if Biden ends up squeaking out a victory, it’s a huge indictment of him, his campaign, and the politics that he represents that after [230,000] people died, the economy collapsed, and the last 4 years we’ve been led by a fascist game show host the election is this close.

If Joe Biden couldn’t thrash Trump under these circumstances, God only knows how he could have won if COVID-19 hadn’t happened. Trump has been an abysmal president. His approach to climate change threatens the lives of countless human beings. The case against him should be open-and-shut. Yet the Democratic Party lost to him once and has come close to doing it again. How?

I have already seen some Democrats on social media blaming the voters. Americans just must be more irredeemably stupid and racist than we thought. I do not think this attitude is correct or helpful. Why are the native Spanish speakers of Miami and South Texas less enthusiastic about Biden than they were about Hillary? Do we simply blame them for “not knowing their own self-interest”? ...
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