I wonder how many supposedly conservative or right-wing commentators really understand what’s been going on in the US. Even after four years! At the time of writing it looks as though Biden will snatch, possibly steal, the Presidency. I have no doubt that fraud and cheating took place. As a general rule, we already know that political machines cheat and lie. We already know the Democrats have done this countless times during the past five years. Why would we think that party apparatchiks in swing states would suddenly recoil at the thought of doing something — anything! — underhand?
To say this, of course, marks you as a conspiracy theorist in the eyes of some, so, in order to defuse that criticism, some commentators take the line that ‘yes, probably some cheating went on but not on the scale to affect the overall outcome’. Well, if the perpetrators didn’t think they could affect the outcome, why would they bother? It would only take a few thousand votes in one swing state to turn the election. Do we think that is beyond the people who gave us the Russiagate hoax? That said, I doubt that the courts will overturn a Biden victory. So where to from here?
The suggestion from most commentators is that Trump should graciously concede, giving ‘loser’s consent’ to an administration fronted by a senile, arguably corrupt, time-server on the basis that this will heal divisions within the country. Those people clearly do not get the Trump phenomenon. They acknowledge– some of them, anyway — Trump’s impressive list of achievements but wonder why he can’t be more collegial, more empathetic, more ‘presidential’. Perhaps they are thinking of former Republican leaders who were attacked, ridiculed, maligned and misrepresented without uttering a peep of protest. George W. Bush springs immediately to mind.
Trump’s style is exactly the reason why he is the man for the job. He has rejected the business as usual, ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’ clubby deal-makers of Washington – The Swamp, as he terms it. The problem for conservatives is that the deals they negotiate, the compromises they reach, always favour the other side and the inexorable drift to the Left. If I read him correctly, Trump is not by nature a win-win type of deal-maker. Any deal he does must make him, and by extension his base, better off. That is why he has been so aggressive towards China. And in foreign affairs, this characteristic is unlikely to engender too much hostility within the US. Admittedly, it’s a different story domestically, and it was inevitable that he was going to seriously alienate the establishment. But this push-back is well overdue in every Western democracy, not least in Australia. To doctor a infamous Paul Keating quote, Trump is the disruptor we had to have.
Trump may concede graciously when he has exhausted his legal options but he should not do so before then.
Trump is routinely described as divisive by commentators such as The Australian’s Paul Kelly. And yet, here is the columnist yesterday opining that
If Biden wins, his mission will confront two daunting opponents: resentful Trump legions who won’t accept the result and progressive Democrats demanding implementation of their divisive agenda, sure to ruin any healing process.
So here we have cognitive dissonance writ large. According to Kelly, it is Democrats that espouse the divisive agenda – no argument from me there. But Trump legions that won’t accept the result? That sounds very like projection to me. It’s the Democrats who have form on not accepting results. During the election campaign, Trump rallies and demonstrations were characterised by their good humour and behaviour. And, given the “shy Trump voter” syndrome, why would we expect any more than a few peaceful demonstrations in the immediate aftermath of the election. Does Kelly really think Trump supporters are gong to turn into rampaging mobs or that, absent Trump, the Republican Party won’t meekly slip back into their traditional role of Beltway patsies, conceding more and more ground to the Left in order to ‘unite’ America?
Which brings me to the way ahead. It would have been nice if Trump could have a second term (he may well still do so; in this election and this year, of all years, anything is possible) but the more important issue is the protection of his legacy. Joe Hockey and others have suggested he will run again in 2024. Trump is probably up for it but it’s still a big ask for a man in his mid-seventies. An alternative strategy, would be for Mike Pence to immediately declare his candidacy for 2024. He would, after all, be defending a legacy that is partly his own. Trump could underwrite him. Unarguably, Pence would be seen as a traditionally more acceptable president. Trump might consider that protecting his legacy via a surrogate outweighs the glory of another four years in the White House.
The question: is Pence up for it and up to it? Right now, I can’t think of any other potential candidate with the will and backbone to take up the task.