Joe Biden has failed to deliver a decisive victory over Donald Trump in a shockingly close election. Biden now looks likely to sneak home narrowly, with days of counts, recounts and Trump legal challenges.
It should never have been this close. Trump’s appalling failure over the pandemic has killed over 230,000 Americans, while poverty and unemployment have rocketed.
But Biden’s establishment, middle of the road approach had little appeal for millions of Americans. His key promise was to simply restore business as usual after four years of Trump. But he offers no solutions to the problems dominating the lives of ordinary people.
Even in the context of a deadly pandemic, he could not bring himself to promise universal health care through Medicare for all—even though millions more have lost their healthcare cover due to losing their jobs.
Biden distanced himself from the Black Lives Matter rebellion, rejecting calls to defund the police and responding to the brutal police murder of George Floyd by suggesting police “shoot them in the leg” instead.
Biden drew in far more corporate donations than Trump, taking millions from the finance sector and big tech firms. He was the choice of those looking for a steady hand to promote US imperialist power. And his decades as part of the neo-liberal establishment in Washington gave ordinary people no confidence he would be on their side.
The result in Florida hints at how voters could have been won away from Trump. Sixty-one per cent there supported a move to introduce a $15 an hour minimum wage, yet the key swing state still backed Trump. Biden failed to appeal to the desire for an end to poverty and inequality.
On election night, Trump immediately claimed there was “major fraud” happening and declared that “as far as I’m concerned, we already have won” the election. With a narrow lead early on, he demanded that further counting stop and announced plans to challenge the inclusion of some postal votes in the key state of Pennsylvania.
We are still a long way from the disputed election result that came down to a few hundred votes in one state in 2000, in the race between Al Gore and George W Bush.
But Trump’s lies about election fraud will continue long after the result is settled. They will further harden and enrage his core supporters, and provide further encouragement for the far right.
The racist right-wing politics that Trump has championed and that now dominate the Republican Party are not going away. And Biden will do nothing to resolve the economic catastrophe that helps feed it. Biden has distanced himself from more left-wing proposals like the Green New Deal to address inequality and climate change.
As Trump declared “we have already won the vote”, hundreds of people marched in cities from Chicago to New York, Portland and Philadelphia demanding, “Trump Out Now.”
The hope for change lies in the massive Black Lives Matter protests that have shaken the country, in the growing number of strikes during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the movements on the streets and in the workplaces against racism, inequality and the system that breeds them.
By James Supple