Observations of an expat: THE Election

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Hope is a terrible emotion. It too often leads to despair. But an almost overwhelming hope is the dominant emotion for all those supporting a Biden victory in the US presidential elections.

As I write this the election remains in the balance. No bookkeeper will give a Trump victory any odds. Biden is almost certain to win, but the emphasis is still on the words “almost” and “hope”.

Just when Biden can give his uncontested victory speech is unknown. Trump will not concede. The president has made it clear that he will contest the election result in the courts—right up to the Supreme Court; even though almost no respectable legal eagle believes Trump has grounds for his claims of a fraudulent election.

But the president’s business success was largely based on highly suspect legal triumphs and he will use his unrivalled experience in the courts to keep Biden out of the house and job which he claims as his exclusive preserve.

Then there is the cloud of violence hanging over America. So far there have only been a handful of incidents. But the fact is that Trump supporters are dramatically extreme – and often armed – in support for their man.

Biden has asserted that he will be a unifying president for all Americans. The problem is that rural and small town America have felt ignored for years. They believe that their way of life has been marginalised, under-valued, and under-represented by a coalition of patronising degree-wielding urbanites and non-whites who threaten their values.

If Biden wins, the man from Delaware may also face problems with Congress. America’s checks and balances system means that for an administration to be effective it needs a majority of support in the House of Representatives and Senate. The Democrats have held onto their plurality in the lower house but, for the time being, The Republicans have control of the Senate. This may change in January when there will be two Senate run-offs because of Georgia’s convoluted election laws.

A defeated Trump is unlikely to take the accepted route of retiring to his Florida mansion to work on his memoirs and presidential library. During the campaign, son-in-law Jared Kushner, was busy organising a future platform which is likely to become Trump Television. This will enable Trump to broadcast vitriol, personal insults and dangerously false conspiracy theories to undermine a Biden Administration, and prepare a 2024 bid for the White House either for himself or one of his children.

If Biden does succeed then there is hope. Joe is recognised as one of the most honourable politicians in Washington who strongly believes in the rule of law as laid down in the US constitution. In contrast, Trump twists the law to work only through friends prepared to swear feudal fealty to him personally.

Lurking racism remains at the root of many of America’s problems. The election of Barack Obama’s election was a giant step towards resolving the systemic problem, but at the same time it imperilled the shrinking white majority, many of whom are as misogynistic as they are racist.  Future vice president Kamala Harris is Black and a female. She is also in pole position to succeed Biden in the White House.

The most pressing immediate problem of a Biden Administration is the Coronavirus pandemic.  As the world’s attention was grabbed by the election result, the number of new confirmed Covid-19 cases in America hit a record daily high of 102,000. Trump turned the pandemic into a political issue by blaming the Chinese, attacking his scientists and seriously minimising the health problems. He urged his followers to do the same for the sake of the economy.

In contrast, a face-masked Biden has called for a bi-partisan national effort to replace the current state-by-state system and protect both lives and the economy. To this end, he would push through the blocked economic stimulus package as quickly as possible to help businesses and individuals suffering from the financial fallout of coronavirus.

Elsewhere on the domestic front, Biden needs to protect and expand the health service which became known as Obamacare. He wants to put his mark on it and rename it Bidencare.

The environment is another issue for a President Biden. Trump rolled back many of the environmental protection measures enacted in the Obama years. He argued that they threatened  American energy industry jobs. On the eve of the election, Trump officially took America out of the Paris Climate Change Accord. Biden will reverse this, return to the climate change accord and emphasise support for “green” jobs to replace those lost in the fossil fuel industry.

A Biden Administration is also likely to rejoin the Iran Nuclear Accord and maintain a tougher stance on relations with Vladimir Putin’s Russia. He will distance himself from right-wing populists Trump cosied up to. The one exception might be Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel.

It was the Obama Administration that announced the “Asia Pivot” in American foreign policy and Joe Biden had a major role in developing it. China is the biggest long-term threat to America’s super power status no matter who sits in the Oval Office. Trump’s response to the Chinese menace was sanctions and military intimidation. Biden is likely to restore the Trans Pacific Partnership which economically locked China out of Pacific Rim markets.

Back in 2014, Barack Obama was loud in his demands that all NATO allies fulfil their promise to spend two percent of their GDP on defence. Trump upped the stakes by threatening a withdrawal of American support if the money was not quickly forthcoming.  Naked life and death threats are not the best way to keep and influence important traditional allies. Trump left a bad taste in Europe’s political mouths. Biden will make repairing the trans-Atlantic alliance—long the cornerstone of American foreign policy a top priority.

The cornerstone in that alliance has traditionally been the Anglo-American relationship. Britain and America are bound by history and shared values. Brexit has brought that into question. Trump loved Brexit because it weakened the economic powerhouse that is the European Union, and his foreign policy was heavily weighted towards dollars with little concern for political consequences. Biden will take a more holistic view and Boris Johnson cannot expect the American support he had in the past. His much touted US-UK trade deal must also be in danger.

None of the above is an easy task for Joe Biden, but he is the best hope for the restoration of democratic values in America and their support elsewhere in the world.

* Tom Arms is foreign editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and the author of “The Encyclopedia of the Cold War” and the recently published “America Made in Britain” that has sold out in the US after six weeks but is still available in the UK.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • John Marriott 6th Nov '20 - 8:44pm

    It’s hard to disagree with anything in this article. Sadly, the USA seems as polarised as we are over here. The big difference is that we are not brimming with guns. That’s what really worries me. Trump’s niece, Mary, was excoriating about her uncle on Channel Four News tonight.

  • Thank you for that astute summary, Tom.

  • Steve Trevethan 7th Nov '20 - 7:59am

    How do the management of German and U. K. Post World War 2 debts and the Suez, Grenada and Falklands conflicts fit with the “Special Relationship,?

  • “ The problem is that rural and small town America have felt ignored for years. They believe that their way of life has been marginalised, under-valued, and under-represented by a coalition of patronising degree-wielding urbanites”

    Absolutely right. Biden has won but the election has been a disappointment for Democrats overall.

    I feel America has voted for centrism and moderation. They have simultaneously tried to reject both the nastiness of Trumpism and the cancel culture/ defund the police narrative of the hard-left. There are lessons there for Progressives everywhere.

    I believe that Trump will back down eventually as he will want to protect his business interests and brand image and at the end of the day he can always be escorted from the building when his legal challenges fail.

  • @ Chris Cory “there has been little mention of the fact that the people of California, liberal California, rejected proposition 16, to allow affirmative action”

    Yes, possibly because the proposition was fundamentally illiberal?

    There were concerns that it would lead to discrimination against Asian-Americans who are “over-represented” on University campuses.

    The No vote argued that

    “ Not every Asian American or white is advantaged. Not every Latino or black is disadvantaged. Our state has successful men and women of all races and ethnicities. Let’s not perpetuate the stereotype that minorities and women can’t make it unless they get special preferences… … if these words (preventing positive discrimination) are stricken from our state Constitution, the University of California will again be free to give a wealthy lawyer’s son a preference for admission over a farmworker’s daughter simply because he’s from an “under-represented” group. That’s unjust.”


    Hard to argue against that.

  • Steve Trevethan 7th Nov '20 - 3:37pm

    Might it be the case that a Republican President, who is/was very unpopular with the media-arms-military triad, has been defeated at the same time as the orthodox Republican Party has consolidated power in other relevant governmental departments?
    If this is so, are the Republicans now in actual and potential positions which could be harmful to the U.S.A?

  • John Marriott 7th Nov '20 - 5:31pm

    It’s only over when the Orangeman concedes!

  • nvelope2003 7th Nov '20 - 6:06pm

    From White House to Gaol ?

  • I much prefer the fat lady to the Orangeman.

  • John Marriott 7th Nov '20 - 7:02pm

    @Nick Collins
    Come on, man, lighten up a bit. If #45 doesn’t concede, watch out for trouble ahead. Don’t forget that, despite everything, over 70 million Americans still voted for him.

  • John Marriott 8th Nov '20 - 2:56pm

    @Nick Collins
    Because you are being overly pedantic and attempting to ruin my clever quip!

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