After a week of all-nighters and political drama, this week sees Gavin give his take on the lessons that need to be learned by America’s biggest political parties in the wake of this week’s election
I’m not alone, amongst Irish people, in having an affinity for America. For all of my life I’ve enjoyed parts of their culture, their food, their television and their sport. Be it in trips to the States, or having family over there, or simply through seeing Manhattan’s skyscrapers or Southfork’s open plains on our TV screens, we all feel like we ‘know’ America.
The country has also had an immeasurable influence on the world, acting for so long as a quasi-‘Big Brother’, so that’s why their Presidential election matters here, and everywhere. The events of this week are more than a drawn-out reality TV show, because they matter. And that’s why it has felt especially sad to watch it all.
Donald Trump is a leader like no other in his country’s history, but his opponents and critics need to face up to the fact that while he may lose The White House (I’m writing this on Friday afternoon, with counting still continuing), he has had a better-than-predicted election. He has received millions more votes than in 2016, and there’s scant evidence of his supporters then losing faith in him. He’s lost the election because the Democrats’ supporters turned out in greater numbers, yes, but even then, that didn’t translate into gains for them in the Senate or the House. The Democratic Wave was more than a ripple but it has fallen far short of what they had hoped for.
It’s too simplistic to blame all of this on Joe Biden. His party hasn’t delivered, despite this election taking place against the backdrop of repeated civil unrest, and a global pandemic that is spiking once more in the States, as elsewhere. There needs to be major soul-searching within the Democratic party as to why they didn’t deliver a resounding rejection of Trump and Trumpism.
Donald Trump would never have succeeded in the first place without the Democrats’ blunders. Simply, the party has alienated its base. For example, in their landslide victories of 1980 and 1988, Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr. (who both won well over 400 electoral college votes) lost the state of West Virginia to insipid Democratic opponents. In 2020, even in his likely defeat, Donald Trump won every single county there.
His strong support remains an en masse rejection of the political establishment. His performance this week shows that sentiment hasn’t gone away. And to me, more so than being appalled at some of the many, many lows of the Trump presidency, that is the biggest problem. Triumphalism on the part of the Democrats now would only add to that. If they rejoice because they have turfed the Donald out of the White House, rather than focusing on their own problems, then Trumpism (or maybe Trump himself) will return.
This warning also needs to be heard by moderate Republicans, who must be aghast at seeing the soul of their party retch to the right over the past decade or so. He won their primary vote in 2016 in relative ease, remember. In American politics, the ‘sensible middle’ needs to adapt and evolve if it’s to avoid being squeezed out.
This matters to us because America matters to us. It matters more because of America’s influence – where the USA goes, others will follow.