In a fitting end to four years of chaos, bigotry and wilful aversion to the truth, Donald Trump is refusing to accept the results of the election that he lost, surprising no one.
His campaign has filed lawsuits in multiple states, seeking to overturn, or at least forestall, Joe Biden’s victory. Trump’s surrogates proclaim massive voter fraud without offering any evidence. His supporters, some carrying assault rifles, flood the streets parroting his deluded talking points.
But despite the sound and fury accompanying the soon-to-be-ex-president everywhere he goes, Biden’s victory is decisive. He is on track to win an absolute majority of ballots cast and appears to have flipped some once-reliably red states.
Democrats are flying high, having now won the popular vote in seven out of the last eight presidential elections. Indeed, from some vantage points, Republicans seem poised to enter a new age of darkness, left behind by an America that is becoming younger, more urban, more educated, and less white than ever.
As I argued four years ago, the antiquated electoral college might just be the Republican party’s only remaining chance to game the system going forward. Yet even that funhouse mirror of an institution could start giving Democrats the edge if current demographic trends continue.
But while Democrats might be tempted to rest on their laurels, that would be a mistake. The “emerging Democratic majority” may yet prove to be a mirage. Biden is unlikely to make the country deliberately worse — a refreshing change of pace in today’s politics — but it is an open question whether things will get better under his leadership. He represents the kind of placid neoliberal centrism that has failed to deliver the goods for millions of Americans.
The status quo ante of 2016 was not some golden age. It was an era of unfettered capitalism and growing inequality, the instability of which threw a wrench in the works, disrupting “politics as usual” in the most malignant way possible.
It is in this context that the ascendance of a buffoonish demagogue like Trump, skilled at manipulating populist anger, must be understood. To prevent the reemergence of Trumpism in its next more refined avatar, Democrats must move in a bolder direction, embracing egalitarian policies that benefit the population — like progressive taxation, medicare for all and a Green New Deal.
So yes, celebrate Trump’s loss, celebrate the repudiation of authoritarianism, celebrate Kamala Harris’s historic rise to the vice presidency. But do not grow complacent. In the current political climate, the threat of fascism is never far away.
Image: Joe Biden/Twitter