Donald Trump | AP
President Trump lost. Pure and simple.
Trump campaign is still vigorously disputing the vote tally of the last presidential election. These are last gasp attempts by a person who cannot easily accept the reality of a loss. He has not lost many battles in his personal or professional life. The word ‘defeat’ is not in his vocabulary. At least, not until now.
When one woman caused him discomfort, it took him little time to cut his losses and find another person who is a lot more appealing and flashier than the person leaving. When one casino in Atlantic City went bankrupt, he returned to real estate dealings to become a more successful tycoon, wealthier than ever. Mr. Trump has always made failure as an introduction to future successes.
Trump is hardly the kind of person to lay down and accept defeat. Such acceptance is the expected norm in the U.S. Afterall, Vice President Al Gore conceded defeat to George W. Bush in the most famous contested election of 2000; some even now decry that it was done prematurely. More notably, Hilary Clinton known for her unctuous and shifty ways, rose to the occasion and privately communicated her admission of loss through a phone call to Mr. Trump. She did hide herself from the world when it became clear that she was going to lose.
But those who wait for Trump to make a conciliatory concession speech may have to wait for another person to bow out of the White House. Trump will be Trump- brash, irreverent, and always doing what he knows to be good for himself but always asserting unadulterated patriotism. He knows that being unconventional is his appeal. While there are some serious discussion of voter fraud and there may very well be some truth in that, the President lost key states that he had won in 2016. President-elect Joe Biden won states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Arizona narrowly, in some cases with narrower margins that Mr. Trump won in 2016.
The re-election campaign of Mr. Donald Trump evoked interest from all corners of the world and aroused unprecedented passion. The battlelines had been clearly drawn. Trump supporters disliked Democrats. Democrats hated Trump supporters. There was no middle ground. This was no ordinary election. It was perceived by both sides as a war of good versus evil, a mammoth attempt to change the course of American destiny. As is the case with all wars, truth is the first casualty. This was particularly true in the 2020 American elections.
Faulty analysis galore
In these days of rabid data analysis, most U.S. media outlets and the world media that dutifully follow the commentaries from the American sources lose sight of several important facts related to the election.
First, what President Trump failed to do was to win a single state that had been won by Hilary Clinton in 2016 while losing several he had won to the admittedly lowly Joe Biden. Even if the challenges from the President overturn the results from one or two of these states, the overall outcome is not likely to change and Mr. Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. will be the 46th President of these United States.
American media channels were quick to declare not only victory for Biden but proclaim a clear mandate for him. They were communicating half-truths as usual. Biden had the largest vote count in history, some 80 million votes. That looks impressive compared to the 74 million votes Trump received. While plurality in popular votes does not result in the selection of a president, this was far from a runaway result giving Biden a blind mandate.
What the U.S. media buried in footnote trivia the fact that Trump received 12 million more votes than what he received in 2016. He had eight million votes more than Hilary Clinton received in 2016 and five million more than the media darling Barrack Obama received in the banner year for Democrats, 2012.
What does this mean? More Americans believe in Trump’s leadership in 2020 than they did in 2016. This is a tangible endorsement of the policies and achievements of Mr. Trump during the last four years. The presence of 74 million hardcore Trump supporters will not give Biden an unconditional mandate for a leftwing agenda. He will not have an easy ride if he is planning to alienate those who truly believed that Trump was the messiah that they were waiting since the ‘good old times’ under the presidency of Ronald Reagan.
Second, in the U.S. government the 435-member lower house or the “House of Representatives” and the 100-member upper house or the “Senate” wield power in many critical matters of governance. In the last election, Republicans have already won 50 seats and are strong contenders in two seats in the state of Georgia, seats they currently hold. It is reasonable to conclude that the Republicans will keep the Senate control causing serious fissures in the Democratic attempts to undo the reforms enacted under President Trump. The Republicans have snatched eight House seats from Democrats even though Democrats maintain a very thin majority with 222 seats just four over the 218 needed for majority. In short, the American voter did not give any perceived or real mandate to the Biden-Harris ticket.
The Democrats united against Donald Trump took a solidified stance in opposing every initiative he brought forward. However, the Democratic Party and its House members are hardly a unified entity. Since Trump is no longer available as a beacon of hatred to rally around, the divisions among the members will surface as it had in past decades. It is very reasonable to believe that the 2022 election for the House will seat a new Republican majority. All these point towards a failed presidency under Joe Biden. The U.S. media refuse to focus the disunity among the leadership and membership of the House and Senate.
Under the daze of the recent election victory, many have overlooked the fact that even though Donald Trump will leave the presidency on January 20, 2021, his ideas and legacy will not disappear. The bumbling Biden, with no Trumpian forcefulness or sense of purpose, is unlikely to receive the political support to undo the marquee accomplishments of Trump administration, domestic or foreign.
Economic decline of the US
The Chinese made Covid-19 virus has made the U.S. economy squirm. While the government is printing money to prop up the unemployed, the economic activity has come to a screeching halt in many sectors. Mega universities with enrollments of 30,000 and 50,000 have degenerated into ghost towns. My own campus of California State University located in Southern California enrolls some 41,000 students and employs around 4,000 faculty and staff. Essentially, this campus with its own partial electricity generation, roads, parking, retail stores, gardens, office buildings, dormitories, food service, police force and a major hotel on campus to accommodate overnight guests acted like a small self-governing town. Surrounding the university are other private facilities for student residence, apartment complexes, restaurants and rental units and the many stores that cater to students. However, with virtual or distance education, there is hardly anyone on campus, a situation that has been in place since March 2020.
The economic activity surrounding the university city has now ceased to exist. Such is the case in the hundreds of campuses throughout the 50 states. Restaurants and eateries have closed, stores are shuttered, and countless employees are without a job. Americans with the insatiable thirst for gas-guzzling behemoth automobiles are relegated to parsimonious habits of the new normal. I drive a Lincoln Navigator with a 5.3-liter engine and a 30-gallon gasoline tank giving a whopping mileage of 12 miles a gallon or a mere 5 kilometers per liter. Prior to the shutdown of university activities, I had to fill up the tank at least five times a month to make the daily 50-mile roundtrip. During my present life of virtual voluntary house arrest, I needed to fill the tank only for a mere three times in the entire eight months since the shutdown of the university. Countless others like me work from home. As a result, energy demand is visibly down sending shock waves from the chaotic trading floors of Wall Street to the desolate oil fields of Middle East.
The story is repeated in other segments of the economy. Large fanciful shopping malls that adorned American suburbia teeming with high-end spenders are full of empty storefronts. The demise of shopping malls is not all because of the general fear of breaking social distancing rules by frequenting crowded closed spaces but it is also in part the result of changing shopping habits. The public is willing to purchase without testing the products, even expensive goods, enabling giant mail-order intermediaries like Amazon and their delivery services thrive. This has made thousands of other retailers who maintain a more traditional merchandizing profile to become probably irretrievably irrelevant.
Though the ravages experienced by the economy are directly related to the pandemic, the medical field too have experienced significant downturn. Many hospitals confronted with the reluctance of the public to seek hospitalization, have laid off doctors, nurses, medical assistants, billing clerks, and other health-care workers. Many doctors with a heavy dependence on elective procedures for their practice such as surgery, orthopedics and plastic surgery have been affected. Those in private practice with large medical offices found their foot traffic dwindle down forcing them to reduce support staff or in some cases stop the practice altogether.
Can America recover?
The United States. or President Trump are not responsible for the pandemic even though the U.S. media made it the President’s fault. Now that Mr. Trump is no longer in power, the media is beating the drums to see a quick recovery so that the new team can be credited with victory. President-elect Biden has not presented any concrete plans for economic recovery of the nation. His rhetoric reverberates the tired old tax and spend policy of the Democrats. “Tax the rich and give it all to the poor” is a nice politician’s slogan but the super-rich shops around the world to protect their assets from unholy seizure. Trump’s tax cuts helped the rich but brought back billions of investment dollars to American shores, creating jobs at unprecedented levels. Biden projects the image of short-sighted politicians who can hardly see beyond their next election but will promise anything to get elected.
The Democrats and their allies have already started disparaging Trump ever so more vigorously. Their fear is not the 2020 election, the fate of which is now sealed. Trump may not gift Biden administration a graceful stroll through the rose garden. Trump supporters believe that as a weak senator whose chameleon personality allowed him to hang on to important political positions, Biden will not accomplish anything meaningful. His administration will have to depend on barrages against Trump, the same tiresome rhetoric that will get just as annoying as some of Trump’s silly outbursts.
Even more ominous to Democrats is the fact that in 2024, Trump will only be as old as Biden is now. This fact diffuses the ‘too old to lead’ claim that the Republicans raised in 2020. Furthermore, with heart problems and overall visible degradation of memory that Biden exhibits, Trump’s perfect health and youthful arrogance are likely to make him ready for a formidable comeback. The alienation experienced by approximately half the American population will manifest itself in local elections and change the leadership in the House creating a divided government once again.
Democrats and the media had a solitary enemy, and he resided in the White House. The relentless drumbeat on crucifying President Trump is now successful. However, the believers are confident that a resurrection is possible. No matter what, the perpetuation of the principles in which he believed and governed for the past four years will affect American life for centuries to come.
(Dr. R. Unnikrishnan is a professor of engineering who was educated in India and the US. A native of Ernakulam, he resides in Corona, California)