If we ever needed a demonstration of how anti-democratic Trump is, how little respect he has for the structures and traditions of democracy, it is here and now in his refusal to accept defeat. Latest news is he has sacked his Defence Chief of Staff (seemingly pre-empting a resignation) because he had the temerity to disagree with him, and is obstructing the handover in every way possible. In doing so he may very well be scuppering any chance he has of coming back in 2024, but who knows? In the looking-glass world of Trumpian politics all these features seem to look like virtues and the evil is all on the other side. Anyway, enough of all this; I think I’ve drunk my fill of American politics over the last few days. It’s been fascinating and horrifying, a relief and a shit-show, a laugh and a gasp in about equal measure – and a salutary lesson, if we needed one, of how deep-seated beliefs are not shaken by firm evidence. If a flat-earther or a climate-change denier can stick to their world-view in spite of all the evidence, what hope is there for Trump supporters? How do we get people to accept the truth?
I guess the sad fact is that you can’t. I’m reminded of a scene at the end of the Narnia books where a group of dwarves refuse to accept the evidence of their senses and believe in Aslan. Convinced that they are all tied together in a dark cave, they refuse to see the light and when Aslan provides them with a feast they imagine themselves eating leftover scraps. If Aslan can’t do it, what chance does Biden have? Still, he’s made a good start in setting up a covid team – but I fear that Trump and his diehard fans will spend the next four years in a bunker (perhaps a golf bunker?) claiming that none of this ever happened. Or perhaps they will hole up somewhere in the Deep South and set up an alternative state with the confederate flag and spend the next four years trying to get international recognition. This man is dangerous and toxic and they need to get rid of him as soon as possible. But getting rid of the mindset that enabled him may not be so easy.
And what of our own Poundland Trump, whose position is now looking much less stable now that he’s lost his orange brother across the pond? There is a school of thought that says the Tories will get rid of Johnson rather than allow him to drag them all down, and I think they will. They’ve got form on this after all – they are a ruthless bunch dedicated to staying in power and most of them are much less craven than the Republicans. They didn’t hesitate to get rid of Thatcher once her time had come, so I’ve no doubt they will do the same here. Rishi Sunak is looking a likely contender to succeed Johnson if and when that time comes. I have very mixed feelings about Sunak: on the one hand he’s a great deal more personable than Johnson and seems to have some almost one-nation instincts; he would also be the first Asian Prime Minister which in some ways would be a good thing. But on the other hand he is a Tory and if he turned out to be more popular than Johnson that would damage Labour’s chances. So we’ll see.
Rather rambling thoughts here in the UK on this damp and drizzly Tuesday morning. It’s not all good news, but this week the world is a kinder, less dangerous place. Let’s keep it that way.