Battle is over for Joe Biden, but the war is just beginning
Battle is over for Joe Biden, but the war is just beginning

US on the brink of four-year war

COMMENT

The battle might be over for Joe Biden but the war has only just begun. Now the struggle to save the soul of America rests in the hands of a man who struggles to remember the name of the man he's fighting against.

The good news is that this is no longer a fight against Donald Trump but a fight for the hearts and minds of the 70 million Americans who turned out to vote for him. The bad news is that unlike Trump they are not going anywhere.

There will be a lot of armchair quarterbacking after this stunning US election, the most electrifying presidential poll this century. It is therefore important to record in this first draft of history the facts as they stand, before they are rewritten by the victors.

 

 

The first is that virtually all the mainstream polls and pundits got it wrong again. And not only did they get it wrong after getting it wrong the first time and promising they'd learnt from their mistakes but they got it even more wrong.

Four years of constant commentary about Trump's record unpopularity, his accidental and undemocratic somersault into the White House, his illegal and illegitimate presidency, his murderous incompetence and his projected electoral wipe-out once he sought a second term have all proved to be utterly, utterly wrong.

RELATED: Why Donald Trump's big lead collapsed

 

Yes, after days of nailbiting vote-counting where swing states have flickered red to blue on the slimmest of margins, it is impossible for Trump to win - assuming none of his conspiracies about voter fraud come true.

However that does not erase the fact that he turned out a record number of votes for any Republican candidate in US history and came within a bee's bollocks of winning a second term - again in flagrant defiance of just about every public poll and prediction.

Democrats should thank their lucky stars that they preselected Biden as their candidate, a genial, familiar and moderate man who is as close to the embodiment of mainstream Middle America as the party has on its books. It is why I backed him in the primaries and why I nervously maintained he would win even as the electoral map turned into a sea of red.

 

 

Only Biden was able to straddle an incredibly broad spectrum of voters that stretched from young Trump-hating socialists to urbane Trump-hating Republicans and the bare minimum of working-class white men in the Midwest. The result was the highest vote for any presidential candidate in American history and it's impossible to see how other contenders like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren or Harris could have done the same. Biden might not be lucid but at least he is likeable.

RELATED: Can Trump really challenge US election result in Supreme Court?

 

But the second highest vote for any presidential candidate goes to Donald J Trump and now those voters are looking for a home.

It is clear now, as it was four years ago, that the political, media and academic establishment simply does not understand them and dismisses their hopes and fears as illegitimate - even "deplorable" you might say. Whether by accident or design Trump tapped into these hopes and fears and a new American revolution was born.

And so there are more than 70 million souls sitting there waiting for the next messiah to take them to the promised land and unless the Democrats think they can pull together a bigger coalition of communists and corporates at every election in the future then they'd better start listening to them.

And the key word here is listen. The one thing that keeps coming up again and again is that these people are sick of being dictated to and told they have to squeeze into a preordained ideological template or be cast on the political scrap heap.

One example is the gobsmacking video voiced and distributed by Harris in which she used cartoon figures and comic book font to explain the difference between "equality" and "equity" to people who were apparently too stupid to understand it.

RELATED: Are Trump's voter fraud claims true?

 

Maybe it was an attempt to scold voters for their privilege or maybe it was an attempt to provide a theoretical framework to explain how she was helping poor oppressed people who were apparently too ignorant to know they were oppressed. Either way I don't think I've ever seen a more nauseatingly condescending piece of political propaganda.

And so it goes on. Working class people are told they have to sacrifice their jobs for the sake of climate change, that they have to sacrifice their religious views for the sake of progress and that they have to sacrifice their language for the sake of tolerance.

And, quite frankly, they're f***ing over it.

Joe's genial demeanour and big smile went a long way to reassuring those people that the party was listening again but it will have to do a lot more than that. Even as the penny drops among the so-called educated classes the belated evolution from bewilderment to enlightenment is itself a damning indictment.

As one US Professor of Economics observed of the result: "My takeaway is that a large number of people HATE the cultural left (not the econ left) and are willing to put up with almost anything, including incompetence, chaos, corruption and bad policy, to signal their views loud and clear."

Well, yes. No shit.

RELATED: America's confusing voting system explained

 

Likewise a social science and psychology lecturer from New Zealand tweeted: "We social scientists failed to predict or even understand the appeal of Trump. We need to do better to understand why people chose to vote for him. A lot of people did, so there are probably some strong reasons. If we don't understand we'll miss the next one, too."

Again, quite so. And yet how chilling that the academic class is so mystified by Trump's appeal that they feel the need to study his supporters like lab rats.

And full credit to this brave lone columnist from the New York Times for his soul-turning mea culpa: "Our job in the media is to capture reality so that when reality voices itself, like last night, people aren't surprised. Pretty massive failure. We still are not good at capturing the rightward half of the country."

So true. Even after four long years of chaos and condemnation they were still not good. And they also still fail to realise that this "rightward half" includes vast numbers of working class people who thought they were the left until the left left them behind. In all the blue-collar swing states we still talk about today they voted for Obama and then they voted for Trump.

Democrats will rightly be breathing a massive sigh of relief after this election - an election that was a far more close-run thing than it should have been - but they should not for a minute think that the struggle is over.

Unless they win back the working class and win back Middle America, unless they start reflecting their values instead of dictating them, it might just be the last election they win for a very long time.

Joe Hildebrand is co-host of the US politics podcast I'm Usually More Professional and Nights with John Stanley on Radio 2GB.

Originally published as US on the brink of four-year war


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