President Donald J. Trump has become the 10th President of the United States to be denied a second term by the voters since Americans began choosing Presidents 232 years ago. President-elect Biden will become the 46th President of the United States, having prevailed over President Trump by an estimated 5.0 to 6.0 million+ votes when all votes are counted, and by an apparent electoral college margin of 306 to 215.
There is a lot to unpack in this election.
In this election, President-elect Biden received the largest vote of any President in the history of the United States. In this same election, President Trump received the second-largest vote of anyone who has ever run for President of the United States, topping his own 2016 vote total.
What does this tell us?
Probably not what I initially thought, and probably not what I presume many Americans may yet believe. As the election totals began to take shape, my first assumption was that approximately one-half of the country’s voters were solid Trump voters; that, maybe, America looked a lot more like Poland and Hungry than I had ever imagined. That is, nearly half of America was inclined toward authoritarianism and had voted for an authoritarian President. As I have listened to and read voter responses, I have come to a different conclusion. I don’t think President Trump’s solid base has grown much, if at all. However, I believe that many voters were (are) simply not enthusiastic about a Biden Presidency. They decided to stick with what they had, rather than support a candidate who they see as old, not exciting, and on whom enough of the mud stuck that was thrown by President Trump and an army of sycophants, social media bots, trolls, and other miscreants. Biden had been relentlessly characterized as a Trojan Horse for Marxists, a closet socialist, a pedophile, a corrupt family crime boss, and a mask-wearing wimp who was afraid of a tiny virus the Trump Administration was successfully quashing and on which the Trump-team was turning the corner. There was, I believe, a substantial vote against Biden that didn’t represent a besotted embrace of Trump or Trumpism.
One can rightly conclude from President Trump’s pronouncements from the White House during and immediately following the election that he is, indeed, an authoritarian in mind as well as in practice. He concluded that while the vote was still in process, he had already won the legal vote and that voting should be stopped (except where Trump, incorrectly, presumed he would win). He doubled down later in the week, declaring that he had won the legal vote, and, with no credible evidence, that the remaining voting was a mélange of skullduggery. His fulminations were breathtaking and unprecedented in American history. Worse, they were the pronouncements and the behavior of an authoritarian. But for the law, he would have canceled the election.
Republicans, in general, did well in this election, increasing their seats in the House of Representatives and, it appears, holding on to the Senate. Some are attributing that to President Trump’s coattails in less liberal areas of the country. Maybe. But I think there is a far more critical message being sent with these strong Republican showings. That is that the far-left wing of the Democratic Party has spooked much of the electorate. Most Americans can recognize the need to address and eliminate racism in law enforcement and criminal justice without embracing the idiocy of the defund the police movement. Like this writer, most Americans have enormous respect for men and women who have committed their careers to law enforcement. Most Americans rightly recoil that anyone can find anything redeeming in looting or arson. Politicians and activists were handed a powerful megaphone during the aftermath of the George Floyd killing. Some used that megaphone constructively. Many did not. I believe the Defund movement and whatever tolerance there was of looting and arson cost the Democrats dearly in many areas of the country.
As this essay wraps, it appears as though Joe Biden is on the cusp of winning Arizona. If he does prevail there, he will be the first Democrat to do so in twenty-four years. If the final result turns out that way, it will be attributable primarily to the unforced error Trump committed with his gratuitous and non-sensical attacks against Arizona’s favorite son, John McCain. Trump seemed jealous and resentful of the respect and admiration so many people accorded John McCain, for the late Senator’s service to our country, his heroism, and even the nation’s final goodbye to Arizona’s five-term Senator. President Trump’s petulant behavior toward Senator McCain was, like so much else attributable to this President, unpresidential. It appears the people of Arizona didn’t forget it.