The 2020 election morning-after: popcorn for breakfast

This is a preliminary report. Upon rising here in Italy this morning, the first thing I did was check the election results in the US election. As one German commentator put his experience on the same thing, “It’s weird having popcorn for breakfast.” The spectacle continues. As this is being written the US election for 2020 has yet to be decided. Both sides are claiming victory. Trump has said he will go to the SCOTUS to stop the vote counting, saying he doesn’t want a bunch of ballots found at 4:00 am. But, his margins of victory in states yet to be declared are narrowing. His pronouncement of victory is pure Trump showmanship, but it may prove to have been premature. And if either party wins by the slimmest of margins, the next two months will be echoes of the Florida fiasco we had in the 2000 elections, when “W” was declared the winner. We all saw what happened after that. There will be a further update in a few days, but read on.

There are several things to note with the vote thus far, which we will outline, starting with the fact that neither side has seen a landslide victory as some pundits and true believers were expecting – no ‘Blue Tsunami’ or ‘Red Wave’. With the current tally of the popular vote, Biden leads, but Trump can still win the Electoral College. With the current count, Biden may even actually pull this off. If so, it will reflect the Uranus/Sun opposition in the recent full moon – an upset. If Biden wins, though, it will be by a frog-hair’s margin, and that’s pretty slim. This election had all the appearance of a repeat of the 2016 election this morning, and now it is slowly shifting. We’ll leave the astrology for this post, as it was more or less covered in a previous post here.

In that previous post on this election, we had the following forecast:

The point here is neither a Trump nor a Biden administration is going to ‘save’ the nation. Only sustained public pressure will bring that about, and non-violent pressure at that. Getting Trump out of office will not change things either, because both parties represent the donors, not the people, and Trump has benefitted the Republican Party greatly, along with Wall Street. The presidential race is about who will represent the oligarchy, and it is much the same with Congress.

The bolded emphasis there is the key point to this election. And from the tally so far, what is showing is that nothing of any real substance has changed since Trump went to the White House four years ago, except that attitudes have only hardened further among the people. Yes, Biden may win, but the margins are very thin and still reflect sentiments from 2016

I had mentioned to friends and colleagues in the previous months that the election had already been decided. That is very clear to anyone who sees what is really going on here. The election was decided, hands down, when Bernie Sanders was ousted from the running in the Democratic primaries, and the same with Tulsi Gabbard. It was almost as if the Democrat establishment would rather lose the election than have a progressive candidate as their choice. The primaries were rigged, which we won’t get into here, but the result has been an uninspiring campaign on the part of the Democrats. We see the result today. At that point it was clear that whoever won the White House, it would be business as usual. We’ll have more on that in a bit.

Speaking of Bernie, the DNC wants no part of a progressive agenda. Establishment Democrat politicians feign concern for the public, all the while their policies have leaned toward more and more corporate and financial interests since the Reagan years. It was much the same in the UK in the Thatcher years with the Labour Party. The Democratic establishment is basically run by the Clintons, and it was Bill Clinton’s administration that gave us the media conglomerates and our turbocharged neoliberal economic system. Biden is their man. Bernie would be a threat to that economic system. Given the current makeup of Congress, along with the Wall Street donors, that just could not be allowed.

Most Americans want what Bernie laid out in his platform, though, at least in domestic policy – universal health care, reining in Big Pharma, cancellation of student debt, raising the minimum wage, addressing wealth inequality and so forth. His foreign policy was pretty much mainstream. Foreign policy is not his forte. Looking solely at that, Bernie may well have won the election had he been chosen to run, but there were powerful vested interests arrayed against him. Those interests won out in the end. A Sanders/Trump contest would have been an interesting battle, though. Bernie won’t be running again, but with enough activism, his movement will live on.

Regarding the preceding and what we have seen with this election, as represented in the Presidential candidates, what follows may be a hard truth, but until we realize it, we will continue to have the type of spectacle we are seeing in US elections every four years:

Almost all of America’s Democratic and Republican voters are simply closed-minded, and refuse to acknowledge that each of this nation’s two political Parties is controlled by its billionaires and is profoundly corrupt, not allowing any progressive legislation (but only conservative and liberal legislation, which is backed by billionaires) to get through, nor any progressive jurist to receive a high court appointment, nor any progressive Presidential candidate to win the Party’s nomination — such as Bernie Sanders in 2016, and in 2020. It’s a dictatorship by America’s Republican and Democratic billionaires, no democracy, at all, and the vast majority of voters in each Party refuse to recognize this core reality about today’s America. To them, it’s Democrats versus Republicans, instead of billionaires versus the public. They are wrong, and they don’t even care that they are wrong.

A bit harsh, maybe, but sometimes a stinging truth brings us to our senses. Bolded emphases added. I wouldn’t necessarily say ‘nearly all Democratic and Republican voters’, referring to voters, but certainly a significant majority. What is the truth of what we see in this election and in all recent ones, then? It is not a struggle between parties or ideology. In the US we have a one-party, two-faced system now. What we have instead is a battle between oligarchic factions as to who will be their public face. In America, what we see is a classic class struggle. The US is a ‘flawed democracy’, to put it lightly. I would use stronger terms. You may be thinking that democracy is working today, that the votes are being counted and everything is on the up-and-up. But then, who chose these candidates, and why?

What has been outlined here is not to bash America, but to point out realities. There are other realities, too, such as the essential kindness and goodwill of the average American when they are not politically confronted, just speaking to people one-on-one. There is far more that unites Americans than divides us. But the divisions are emphasized, by the media, on social media, by politicians, with an emphasis on why someone else is causing our problems. It is the old playbook of divide and conquer, us against them. From the quote above, if we want to see the sort of change we can really believe in, then we must find common ground and unite instead of arguing amongst ourselves.

If you want a good election symbol this time around, look no further than the White House. Trump was finally able to build a wall – around the White House. Talk about the separation between the government and the people. It doesn’t matter that the wall is supposed to protect against rioters. If there was good governance that reflected the will of the people, there would be no need for a wall. We do have police forces and the National Guard in case of any such emergency, anyway. And the Democrats are no better, saying if the election is close it should be contested, no matter what.

As for the other elections, as in Congressional, the status quo has been maintained in both the House and the Senate. We still have Schumer, McConnell, Pelosi, Graham and most of the old cast. The Republicans retain control of the Senate and it is likely the Democrats will retain House leadership the way the trends are going. The question is, then, what really has changed? And also, what might we expect?

The Congressional and Presidential popular vote shows a nation pretty evenly divided within a few percentage points, with the normally red and blue states maintaining their divisions. That shows stasis, rather than balance. The incoming administration will remain or be weak. That could change at midterms in two years. In short, there is no overriding mandate to chart a new course by whoever is there, given resistance to them. With the old establishment still in place and play, there will be business as usual once the election decision settles into people’s minds.

In foreign policy it will mean more tensions with Russia, China, Iran, Syria and so forth. That means there will be further poor foreign policy, more defense spending and probably greater tensions with Europe as a result.

In domestic policy the focus will remain on the markets until people have had enough or until the projected economic crash comes. The stock market is already unstable. We will have to wait and see how the pandemic continues. As it is, the hospitals are filling up again, with anecdotal reports from on the ground that certain areas are getting overrun with patients. In all, the coronavirus was not a big political issue, in that it did not swing voters appreciably either way.

If Biden wins it will be a welcome change for many Americans, with a kinder face on the Presidency, without the bombast, the lying and the bragging. The White House would again be ‘Presidential’. Trump has certainly been a divisive figure. That is one reason his supporters like him, because Trump is bombastic and unafraid to speak his mind. The domestic scene would be calmer under Biden, without incitements. There are many things we could say about the characters of both men, but we’ll leave that for now.

In all, most Americans believe the country has taken the wrong direction, and this has been across administrations. People often cannot articulate exactly why, as to the reason, but they know what they want. Most people know there is quite a bit that needs to be changed in the US, and we keep voting for those changes, usually to be disappointed when they don’t materialize. It has been the same under Trump. Then, the blame game starts. It is this or that party/person/organization, even nation. The blaming is what needs to end, and instead identify the issues and demand the changes from our leaders. That is what has been missing – the activism. Then we will find our common ground, across parties and cultures.

And of note is the one thing we never heard in the debates between Biden and Trump – a focus on the real issues that bedevil our nation, issues such as foreign policy, monetary policy, how to save Main Street instead of the banks, and so forth. Climate change and health care are in there, too. The omissions often speak louder than the words. In reality, it is not the figurehead who is the problem, though they can certainly contribute to those problems. It is an entire system that must be changed. If I had to give one answer as to why people voted for Trump, it is because he promised to drain the swamp – the ‘system’. That is what people really want to see – fundamental changes in the system. But the problem goes even beyond that, the reasons for which we will have to leave for now.

The next couple of months are likely to be turbulent in the US. There were protests when Trump was elected last time. If he wins the swing states, his wall may come in handy. At any rate, it looks as if the inauguration will take place in schedule for January 20th of next year. That administration will be even more conservative, and it will not be peaceful. We’ll address that more closer to the event.

The one area where we have seen significant change is in the SCOTUS. It has taken a decidedly reactionary turn. That will bode poorly for the prospects of advancing progressive policy. And, it is likely to stay that way for many years. Conservative voters may be happy with Coney Bryant, but as the saying goes, be careful what you wish for. You may get more than you bargained for.

With all the above in mind, if you are a Biden supporter and you are waiting for a miracle to happen, prepare yourself, because the outcome is not looking good for Biden, or with a slim victory at best. If he does happen to squeak through, he will meet heavy opposition from Republicans in the Senate and in the SCOTUS, and probably China-gate from his son’s laptop. If you are a Trump supporter and your man wins, nothing much will change. It is not a big cause for celebration. He still faces a hard road ahead – pandemic, market instability, divided country, age and health, and without a clear mandate from the people. I will be looking at Trump in another post, following on the COVID adventure, as his troubles are not over. Biden will win the popular vote. But then, so did Hillary Clinton in 2016.

We will know at least by the end of the week who has won the Presidency. Until then, the best advice might be to start mending fences and building bridges. The road ahead will not be easy. Popcorn for breakfast may not be such a bad idea. Share some with your neighbors and lighten the mood.

Featured pic from The Associated Press live election update, 4 Nov 2020

2 Replies to “The 2020 election morning-after: popcorn for breakfast”

  1. Excellent article! A little disturbing: but sometimes it’s better to slap a hand than to hold it.

    Take care and stay safe!

  2. What a great article Malvin! We are living in scary times now. One can only hope that things will improve over time.

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