While Democrats are still likely to win, their electoral strategy appears to have backfired spectacularly.
Rabat – Democrats failed to produce a “blue wave” of resistance against US President Donald Trump despite a rising COVID-19 death toll. In a country mired in several crises the incumbent was able to keep results “too close to call.” With 50 million Americans facing food insecurity, an economy in tatters, and a continuously climbing COVID-19 fatality count, Democrats failed to outright defeat Trump on election night.
Democrats had counted on a sense of disgust with President Trump’s performance and rhetoric as an electoral strategy. While this strategy got the party’s supporters to the polls, it failed to offer the transformative change that can cause voters to abandon political allegiances.
Instead of galvanizing voters, Democrats appear to have offended Trump voters for holding similar xenophobic views as their leader, while offering little in terms of transformative change.
Optimism turns to despair
Similar to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 strategy, Democrats had amplified Trump’s racism and corruption while failing to offer strong policy proposals to alleviate American suffering. They presented the race as a battle for the “soul of America,” while voters appeared to have been looking for clear and practical support in a time of crisis.
Democrats are still likely to win the election over Trump in the days and weeks of vote counting ahead. As the media have repeatedly warned in the run-up to the election, historic numbers of mail-in ballots mean the election results are likely to be clear in weeks, or even months ahead.
Democrats’ failure to produce a landslide victory over Trump will have stunned many. Democratic campaign veteran James Carville had boasted about an upcoming electoral humiliation for Trump. A few hours into election night however, Carville’s tweets went silent. Confident Democratic-aligned commentators started the night with a Cheshire smile and concluded the hours of reporting with a painful grimace.
Weeks of polling had boosted the Biden campaign’s feeling of a large and inevitable victory. Trump would finally be held to account for his blatant racism and mismanagement, according to Democrats. The fact that American voters came out in large numbers to support Trump on election day appears to have indeed revealed part of America’s soul.
Democrats had revolved their strategy on highlighting Trump’s failures of leadership, while presenting their candidate Joe Biden as a moderate alternative. The campaign urged for a return to the diplomatic and incremental approach of the Obama administration. Biden’s campaign did not propose any ambitious program to truly alleviate economic suffering.
Instead Democrats were distracted by identity politics, making empty statements and posing for pictures wearing Kente scarves in response to the justified outrage of millions of Black voters. With millions facing economic despair, the Biden promise to return to 2016-style politics failed to offer a practical way out of voters’ current misery.
The Democratic campaign focused on preaching to those already appalled at Trump’s behavior. With mock empathy woven throughout its rhetoric it failed to propose a transformative alternative vision for America.
As the horse race between Biden and Trump, and Republicans and Democrats, for the electoral college progressed during election night, it became clear US citizens had indeed voted for transformative change—on the level of state initiatives.
Oregon voted to decriminalize all drugs, a historic shift in a country known for jailing vast numbers of non-violent people who use drugs.
Traditionally conservative states like Arizona, South Dakota, and Montana legalized cannabis. In Washington D.C. the use of psychedelic mushrooms will no longer be illegal while Oregon will legalize the medical use of these drugs, formally considered to be high risk substances.
In Colorado citizens appear to have voted to overturn the electoral college system itself, by voting to join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. In California voters chose to expand democratic rights to people on parole by allowing them to run for office through Proposition 17.
US voters did not appear reluctant to vote for ambitious and innovative new ideas; the Democrats appear to simply have failed to offer any in the presidential race.
The absence of outright victory on election night, as predicted, will mean that the result will likely be mired in controversy for weeks to come. Trump has followed through with his earlier statements that he would consider election night as the “true result” of the electorate. Millions of uncounted ballots now produce an atmosphere of uncertainty in which Trump flourishes.
Without a blowout performance by Democrats, as their pundits had predicted, Trump can seize the narrative and attempt to turn the election into a legal preceding. With the president’s Republicans in firm control of the Supreme Court, turning the electorate’s wish into a legal matter risks undermining US democracy itself.
As the US continues to count votes, numbers are likely to shift in Biden’s favor. Yet the fact that Democrats could not outright defeat a candidate like Trump should be a dire condemnation of their campaign strategy and political abilities. With hundreds of thousands of Americans dead due to COVID-19 and an economic crisis on par with the Great Depression, Trump should have been one of the easiest incumbents to defeat in US history.
The fact that Democrats failed to prosecute and humiliate Trump outright is a dire warning about the future of their party, and the absence of any true political balance in the US.