Two Cheers for Democracy?

Humpty-Trumpty had a great fall proclaimed one of the banners at Joe Biden’s celebration rally. Yes, Trump lost, and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men won’t be able to get him back in the White House but still he thunders on about being cheated. But he’s done. He can squeal and bluster but that’s all he has left; even if he managed to get a recount in all swing states it wouldn’t change the outcome and he’s going to have to provide some evidence of all these lost ballots and illegal votes. No-one’s buying it except his diehard fans, not even Fox.

Trump is bound to speak the truth sometimes, if only by accident, and he never spoke a truer word than when he said this was a battle for the soul of a nation. It was no less than a battle for the forces of democracy against the will to win and happily democracy won. Would that the networks had been so clear on calling him out when he was in power; would that they had pulled the plug on his speeches when he lied as President. But they did not – and the cravenness of the media in the face of power, not only in the US but over here, is shameful.

Under normal circumstances I’d probably be quite disappointed in Biden, but right now he looks like the saviour of the world. Most of us are heaving a huge sigh of relief at the outcome – despite my vow to stay away from the news I found myself compulsively checking the results as I sometimes do here when an election is tight. It’s a good outcome, but it’s not the best, and it remains to be seen what Biden will be able to do if the Senate is Republican and blocks him. Still, he’s made a good start in establishing a much-needed team to combat coronavirus and stating that the US will rejoin the Paris accord on climate change and the WHO. And let’s not forget Kamala Harris who has a triple first: the first woman, the first black person and the first Asian person to hold the office of vice president. So two cheers for democracy I think.

The truth is, Trump overplayed his hand. If you want to truly get control of the machinery of state in a democratic country you have to play the long game – and if he’d been a little wiser he might have got four more years, during which he might have been able to consolidate his power to such an extent that it would have been impossible to get rid of him. But as this delightful video demonstrates, Trump has no self-control. He won’t wait; he doesn’t know how. So what will he do now? The farcical press conference yesterday did not augur well for his fightback. It was booked for the wrong venue – ending up in a garden centre rather than a hotel, and Trump himself was on the golf course so Rudi Giuliani had to take the conference. Giuliani resembles more and more a gangster whose son has stolen the business from under him; impotent fury is all he has left. But what of The Donald? Some people think he’ll stay on the sidelines tweeting and jeering at Biden but I disagree. If there’s one thing Trump hates, it’s losing – I don’t think he’ll be able to deal with even being in the same country as Biden. I predict – and you heard it here first folks – that Trump will get into a private jet one night at midnight with those members of his entourage prepared to accompany him, and leave the country. He’ll hole up somewhere like some exiled Latin American dictator, and tweet from there. Or try to. At the moment, Twitter have blocked his account.

One things has become crystal clear in this election: the media are crucial. They don’t decide the results of elections as Giuliani falsely claimed, but they do decide what to report, and when – and when even Fox had called it for Biden we knew it was all over. Everyone, without exception, was calling Trump out on his lies; every time we heard the phrase ‘voter fraud’ it was immediately followed by the words ‘no evidence.’ But why were we not hearing more of this when he was in office? The answer is that the media are spineless. We need channels and papers willing and able to speak truth to power when it’s in power and not when it’s on the way out. We need media not controlled by powerful money interests. Enter Owen Jones, the improbably young-looking and very personable left-wing journalist. Jones has started a patreon-funded Youtube channel vowing to be an independent voice and to employ journalists on union rates of pay. I have become a donor to this channel – which you can watch for free. The first broadcast was last night and it’s here.

Relieved? I’m still exhaling…

Happy Monday.

Kirk out