(Posted by Bruno Marcetic on FB.)
We don’t know how this US election is going to pan out ultimately, and we might not until the end of the week. But even more depressing than this underwhelming result is seeing people, particularly those on my side of the political spectrum, simply repeating the Democratic excuse-making that Trump was simply too strong, too popular, and America too racist, for Trump to lose badly. That there was simply no one, no one at all, that could’ve done better than Joe Biden did tonight.
I cannot stress enough that this is absolute nonsense. Here are some facts about this election:
- Joe Biden was a candidate so doddering and uninspiring, that his campaign strategy was to be neither seen nor heard by voters as much as possible. This was cheered on by newspapers and other Democratic officials as a stroke of genius.
- To wit, in September – with barely more than 60 days to go – Biden took a third of that month off, his campaign simply announcing, sometimes at noon, sometimes as early as 9 in the morning, that Biden was calling it a day and would not be traveling or doing anything in public for the rest of the day.
- Biden ran an overall strategy that he promoted in the 1980s, that has been a consistent loser for nearly every Democrat that has utilised it. That strategy is to forget about the traditional Democratic base (African-Americans, Latinos, the poor, union workers etc.), and to try win over wealthier, whiter suburbanites and other Republicans from the GOP, by running a corporate-friendly, conservative candidate who doesn’t shake things up, versus a hard right Republican who inspires their base. Did you know there have only been two Democratic presidents in the last *40 years*? And only one this century? And both won by inspiring large turnout among African-Americans, Latinos, young people etc. Exactly the groups that, like Clinton four years ago, seem to have failed Biden this time.
- Relatedly, Biden ran the same campaign Clinton ran in 2016 – to the point that his endorsement by some right-wing extremists and war criminals were announced almost to the day as those same people endorsed Clinton four years ago – that rested its hopes on Trump being so odious, people would vote against him instinctually. It failed in 2016. Then they ran it again, hoping that, now, a monumental public health & economic crisis would be enough to make pure anti-Trumpism a winner. Maybe things are finally so bad that it will. But it should not be this close.
- While the Trump campaign spent months knocking on a million doors a week – basing their strategy, and you can look this up, on Obama’s 2012 re-election – the Biden campaign didn’t bother door-knocking until the start of *October*, after much public and internal criticism. They said it wasn’t important. Now Democrat officials are saying it probably made the difference in Florida.
- Another reason Biden lost Florida? Because Trump did shockingly well with the state’s Latino and African-American populations, something that, particularly with Latinos, Trump appears to have replicated all across the country. In fact, according to an exit poll, Trump has increased his support among almost every single race and gender since 2016 … all but white men.
- I’m looking at the New York Times right now, and Republicans (right now) have made massive gains since 2016 in precincts that are majority Latino, urban, majority college graduates, majority black, and more; while Biden’s gained with merely people over 65 and, slightly, white voters without college graduation. In one Texas county that’s 96% Latino, a county that Clinton won by *60 points* in 2016, Biden won by – drum-roll – 5 points.
Make no mistake, this is a shameful, shameful failure, and it’s the failure of not just this barely-existent candidate, but by the rapacious industry of consultants and political leeches who surrounded him, and preferred to risk another four years of calamity than upset their donors or ruin their chance of getting high-paying corporate jobs by promising anything bold.
All of this has happened in the midst of an epic social and political calamity Trump has proved entirely incapable, and even uninterested, in handling, one where billionaires have increased their wealth by $10 trillion and millions of people have been thrown off their health insurance in the middle of a pandemic, something Biden has repeatedly refused to respond to with a universal health care system, and has even begun backing away from his original public health insurance plan. The mail-in ballots may well give Biden the win when all is said and done, but it should never have been this close. This should’ve been the kind of landslide the US saw in 1932 and 1980.
Trump is not unbeatable. He’s not a genius, He hasn’t hypnotised millions with the magical powers of bigotry. He is a deeply unpopular, corrupt and inept leader who has had the fortune of competing against the most complacent, useless opponents possible. Whether he wins or loses, what is happening now is not a reflection of his strength, but of the profound weakness of his opposition.