With his usual bombast Donald Trump called the election. He had won. Even though, at that stage, he hadn’t. Neither had Joe Biden won. Or lost.
Confused? You were meant to be. From the moment polls closed, Trump went on the attack on social media predictably calling foul, eventually typing his demands in capital letters, should anyone not be listening, TO STOP THE COUNT.
Twitter had to continuously censor, remove or caveat his rantings with a warning that they may contain factual inaccuracies. Television networks stopped recording as he spewed nonsense from the White House, to the point of declaring that people were using binoculars to interfere with the count. Even his pet broadcaster, Fox News, tentatively called him out, and the BBC started broadcasting fact checks.
But none of it really mattered because the world had already become inured to the President’s lies. If he did not actually invent fake news he certainly patented his own very effective version.
So, while his supporters at one count were shouting “count the vote” when they thought that would help him win, others elsewhere yelled “stop the count” for the same reason.
You can smile at the idiocy, shake your head at in the insanity, but this is the America that Trump has been able to mould in his own image.
His politics are rooted in stoking hate, resentment and grievance and he has been a lightning rod for the disaffected. It is that legacy that Joe Biden inherits.
But after four years of this awful president and despite all the polls saying otherwise, there was no landslide victory for the Democrats. No wholesale condemnation or rejection of a politics of a President that has appalled so many in the world, and in the end amid the garboil of the final counts, only a sliver of support separated Biden and Trump.
The polls had consistently reflected a view that Trump deserved to lose and, to steal his phraseology, in a terrifically big way. His wilful mismanagement of the pandemic was surely cause enough. But, with people turning out to vote in record numbers, the final tally revealed that, while he had lost the race to stay in the White House, his appeal, measured by the number of votes counted, had only increased since the last election.
How could that be? This is a man that is a proven liar, who tweets inanities, doesn’t understand diplomacy, is vulgar, sexist and a bigot, and whose cavalier carelessness helped cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans.
But contradictions run deep in American politics, as they do here – you only need to take a cursory look at the reasons behind Brexit or why the working-class vote in the north-east of England would choose to elect Boris Johnson.
With this election heading for the courts, the only clear winner has been division. And, while the last Democratic candidate for the White House may have dismissed Trump supporters as “the deplorables”, it will be for Joe Biden to bring unity and try to deal with the underlying issues that gave succour to Trump’s popular appeal and stop a rerun with a Trump apprentice.
Enjoy the convenience of having The Sunday Post delivered as a digital ePaper straight to your smartphone, tablet or computer.
Subscribe for only £5.49 a month and enjoy all the benefits of the printed paper as a digital replica.Subscribe