The pall has lifted. The outlier is out. The restoration of American normalcy can begin.
Americans have voted to evict President Donald Trump, a sorcerer who cast a populist spell over tens of millions of steadfast followers but whose belligerence and prejudices divided the Great Republic into two militant solitudes.
Joe Biden, the 77-year-old orthodox Democrat who will take the reins after a record-smashing voter turnout, is past his prime. But with experience spanning almost a half century, he may well have the wherewithal and good sense to begin the course correction the United States so sorely needs.
His victory, after days of tension-gripped delays in vote tabulations, ends a chapter of upheaval and chaos in American governance the likes of which have rarely been seen. Mr. Trump’s modus operandi was confrontation. A majority of Americans decided they’d had enough of it.
Traditional allies like Canada, which chafed under the bullying and bombast of the “very stable genius,” as Mr. Trump called himself, can breathe a sigh of relief. They can look forward to more mature and rational policy-making from Mr. Biden, who served two terms as Barack Obama’s vice-president.
The president-elect intends on forging a sweeping liberal reconstruction in the manner of a Franklin Delano Roosevelt, but he faces enormous hurdles: a once-in-a-century pandemic, a faltering, debt-burdened economy, a seethingly polarized public and an incumbent who signalled Thursday that he was unwilling to concede defeat.
In a stunning display of sore-loser pique and authoritarian gall, Mr. Trump alleged he’s a victim of mail-in voter fraud, that he was robbed of victory, and pledged to take his fight to the courts to remain in the White House.
There are glitches and irregularities aplenty in the vote count as there are in most elections. The White House legal team, with the assistance of Fox News commentators, is mounting an aggressive case that they hope to take all the way to the Supreme Court, where conservatives now hold a 6-3 majority.
The gambit could wreak havoc over the next few weeks, with Mr. Trump continuing to hold off on a concession. But as late votes were counted, the Democrats' initially razor-thin margins were building into more sizeable ones that could see them exceeding, as Mr. Biden predicted in an address last Friday night, 300 electoral votes (270 are need to win). That would make a successful challenge all the more improbable. Courts would have to overturn the verdict in several states.
But Mr. Trump’s showing is still better than most pollsters anticipated. Democrats were very hopeful of winning a majority in the Senate but that is very much in doubt as the verdict on that chamber will have to await two run-off elections in the state of Georgia. They were expected to expand their majority in the House of Representatives but instead saw it shrink.
Had Mr. Trump been able to control his tongue, he might have won. It wasn’t his policies that hurt him so much as his spiteful character. One of the reasons he was trailing in reliably Republican Arizona was because of his cruel attacks on one the state’s favourite sons, the late senator John McCain.
Mr. Trump’s performance in handling the pandemic, which is now raging out of control in the U.S., was made much worse by his contradictory foolhardy statements suggesting he knew more than experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci.
In his statement Thursday denying the legitimacy of the election, Mr. Trump reached a new low. Fellow Republican Congressman Will Hurd of Texas tweeted, “A sitting president undermining our political process & questioning the legality of the voices of countless Americans without evidence is not only dangerous & wrong, It undermines the very foundation this nation was built upon.”
But Mr. Trump’s party has been willing to overlook many of his outrages and he’ll probably survive this one too. Viewing the election results, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy said, “The Republican coalition is bigger, more diverse, and more energetic than ever before. That is because of President Trump.”
The bottom line, however, is that a deviant president, a renegade in power, has been stripped of the seals of office.
Mr. Biden, in so many respects, is the polar opposite of Mr. Trump. For all his shortcomings, he is fair-minded man with a conciliatory approach – “I’ll be a president for all America” – who carries with him a deep sense of American ideals.
He is a choice capable of turning the page and, against daunting odds, setting the United States on the long road toward healing.
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