It was always about ‘getting rid of Trump’, never about electing Biden...

How else can such a hopelessly flawed system possibly be expected to end… but in a state of self-perpetuating mediocrity?

Joe Biden
Joe Biden

OK, let’s get a few obvious things out of the way first. I’m writing this on a Friday, and – remarkably, when you consider that the counting started last Tuesday – we still don’t know who actually won the American election. And what’s more: at the precise time of writing, we might not even have a final answer before Monday.

But that’s only if there are no more legal recourses to ‘stop the count’ in certain states; and also, if there are no official recounts later (of the kind that, in 2000, ended up by delaying the official result by over a month).

Meanwhile, the latest reports are that Joe Biden is close to ‘flipping’ Georgia… and no, that’s not a euphemism for another ‘f’ word that ends with an ‘ing’: apparently, it’s just the Americans’ way of saying “he might win back a state that has always voted Republican in the recent past”.

And because of the sheer intricacies of the American electoral system (and there we all were, thinking ours was complicated…) that, alone, would almost certainly be enough to land Joe Biden in the White House.

The bottom line, then, is that Biden might be declared the 46th President of the United States by the time I finish writing this article…

…or we might have to wait a while longer (maybe a few days, maybe until around Christmas)…

Or, who knows? There is still a possibility – albeit microscopic, and shrinking rather rapidly – that yet another turnaround in the counting process might propel Donald Trump back into the lead… not to mention a distinct likelihood that he might just not accept defeat at all… or, conversely, that Democrat voters would similarly reject the (now extremely unlikely) scenario of a last-minute Trump upset, against the run of the play…

Indeed, there are so many possibilities (including some rather unpleasant ones) that the actual counting process, up to a point, hardly seems to matter anymore. On the basis of what we know so far: we can all easily predict an eventual Biden victory… but at the same time… um… we can’t.

For make no mistake: USA 2020 has been unlike any other US election I have ever followed in the past. Not so much because of its sheer unpredictability, in terms of winners and losers alone (the 2000 election, as I recall, was actually much worse); nor even because there is, quite frankly, so much riding on a change in American government right now (the same could be said for Barack Obama’s victory in 2008… and also, depending on your political views and biases, for pretty much any other election, at any other time).

No, it’s because this particular contest seems to also directly challenge some of the most fundamental principles of democracy itself. That possibility I mentioned earlier, that Donald Trump might conceivably refuse to step down if he loses? It had always existed, in every previous election – not just in the USA, of course, but everywhere else in the democratic world: indeed, the whole point of democracy, from the very outset, was precisely to avoid such a thing from ever taking place at all.

But, while several European countries have indeed gone through that process (some might include Malta, on the basis of the 1981 election result)… never, in the context of US politics, have I seen it so close to actually becoming reality.

Trump’s repeated claims of ‘electoral fraud’, for instance – which started, almost as a pre-emptive Twitter strike, long before the counting had even begun – seem, at a glance, to be part of a well-rehearsed strategy to de-legitimize the election result, before it is even announced.

And even if there is no coherent ‘plan’, currently in place, to actually subvert the outcome on that basis: to the millions of die-hard Trump supporters out there – who have already seen their candidate’s early lead disintegrate into almost certain defeat, in the space of a couple of days – those claims will surely be enough to instil deep-seated suspicions: not just about ‘who won this particular election’… but also about the democratic system as a whole.

Meanwhile – much as I am personally against the use of hackneyed stereotypes to describe ‘Rednecks’ and ‘Hicks’, myself – but… quite a few of those people have guns, you know. And the reason they’re allowed to possess firearms to begin with, is that their own Constitution (1776, and all that) actually grants them the legal right to violently overthrow their own government, if they feel it is oppressing them….

Not to be a harbinger of doom, or anything; but add those two observations together (and throw in the possibility of analogous Democrat ‘rebellion’, if the shoe were on the other foot), and… I don’t know. Looks a whole lot like the recipe for a second American Civil War, if you ask me…

But let’s not run too far ahead of ourselves. Apart from the sheer propensity for violence (another thing which has always existed in the past, but never been felt quite so palpably before)… USA 2020,  to mind, also offers a front-seat view of the ultimate end of any two-party democratic system, in any country (including, I need hardly add, our own).

One image, in particular, seems to capture the entire panorama in a single frame. It’s a cartoon (originally in The New Yorker, I think) in which the Statue of Liberty is about to literally launch Donald Trump into orbit… or, preferably, out of existence altogether… using a medical face-mask as a catapult.

Not, mind you, that I don’t share the cartoonist’s sentiment: either in wanting to see the back of POTUS Donald Trump, once and for all; or in the underlying, subliminal message that his Presidency has been (and still is, while he remains in that office) an unsightly blot on all the ideals supposedly embodied by that particular statue…

… but what is missing from the picture also imparts a subliminal message of its own. Like so many other public reactions to the US election I have seen so far – all equally jubilant at the prospect of Donald Trump’s seemingly inevitable defeat – there is no sign of the winner, Joe Biden, anywhere to be seen.

And with the possible exception of the Biden campaign team itself… nobody else, among the vast multitudes now counting the minutes until Donald Trump finally becomes history, seems even remotely enthusiastic about the Democratic candidate’s imminent victory.

All along, then, the only real aim in this contest was to ‘get rid of Trump’ – to quite literally catapult him out of existence, as fantasized by that cartoon: so much so, in fact, that the entire campaign was even condensed into one, single-word hashtag: ‘#out’… (which, apparently, is American for: ‘Barra, Barra!’)… only without any real thought as to what to actually replace him with.

Meanwhile, even the fact that Biden’s claim to the Presidency is still not watertight, four days into the count, suggests that the race itself was a lot closer than originally predicted.

A lot, of course, could be read into that: for instance, it might suggest that a campaign built only on demonizing one’s adversary (no matter how eminently ‘demonisable’ he may be) is only ever destined to provoke a sympathy backlash (and if so, there would be clear, unmistakable analogies with the local context, too).

Another interpretation, however, is that Joe Biden simply failed to enthuse American voters: partly because he happens to be somewhat uninspiring to begin with (he sort of reminds me of an ‘Alfred’ to Obama’s ‘Batman’, if you know what I mean) but partly also because…well, it’s hard to generate any real warmth for a man whose only claim to fame is ‘not being someone else’… and whose only electoral asset is representing the ‘lesser of two evils’.

And OK: to be fair, Joe Biden might even surprise us all, by turning out to be the best US President since…  um… I don’t know: Harrison Ford in ‘Air Force One’?

But that he will also surprise us by bringing about real, generational change - you know, of the kind that the anti-Trump faction (for you can’t really call it the ‘Biden fan-club’, can you?) have been demanding for years – that, I fear, is a possibility we can all safely exclude.

Hence, presumably, the apparent ‘reluctance’ with which a clear majority of Americans seems to have backed Biden over Trump in this vote: though undeniably preferable to the President he will hopefully replace soon… there has been nothing, so far, to suggest that POTUS Biden even wants a change of direction for his country at all.

Even the few electoral promises he bothered to make during the campaign – for instance, that he would re-ratify the Paris Convention on his first day in office – are of course very welcome, in and of themselves; but they’re still just reversals of previous policies and decisions taken by Donald Trump.

So the only ‘change’ we can really expect is a return to the way things were before 2016. And – here’s the rub – it was precisely popular discontent with that system (coupled with a disastrous choice of candidate by the Democrats) that resulted in Donald Trump becoming President of the USA in the first place.

And there, in a nutshell, you can observe the only end the two-party democratic system can ever possibly evolve towards: not only do the two parties invariably converge on all key policy issues – sparring only on issues of ‘cultural warfare’: abortion, civil rights, racism, immigration, etc.; while both firmly plugged into the same old ‘military-industrial-commercial complex’ …

… but the system itself ultimately forces voters to choose governments, not on the basis of any merit they may possess… but simply because they’re ‘slightly less crappy than the only other alternative on offer.’

Honestly, though: how else can such a hopelessly flawed system possibly be expected to end… but in a state of self-perpetuating mediocrity?