Patrick Davies is a reporter with the 100 Mile Free Press. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Patrick Davies is a reporter with the 100 Mile Free Press. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

U.S. election frustrating, still not decided

The first-ever column-like piece I ever wrote was about the 2016 U.S. election results.

I was a journalism student at SAIT and writing a personal blog as part of the course. I remember chatting on Facebook with my high school friends and all of us were dismayed that Trump had won.

It’s only natural now that the Free Press has seen fit to give me a column that I comment upon America’s 2020 Presidental Election preliminary results. Quite a bit has changed since 2016 and I’ve made some sense of how we got to this crossroads in history.

Some readers may justifiably wonder why I care about the outcomes of the U.S. presidential elections. Beyond being our only land neighbours with one of the world’s largest militaries, America also hosts one of the world’s greatest stockpiles of nuclear missiles. It’s probably best that those are in measured hands, no?

Trump won in 2016 by becoming the voice of millions of working-class voters who felt disenfranchised by the Obama administration and an overall lack of faith in progressive governance. He rode a wave of populism, xenophobia and his own star power, despite the fact that his ‘business savvy’ is questionable at best and laughable at worst.

Over the last three-and-a-half years, Trump has systemically dismantled his predecessor’s legacy, imposed backwards and cruel immigration control policies, sowed doubt in anyone but himself and been impeached over attempting to solicit foreign interference in the election against Joe Biden. Not to mention his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed over 230,000 people in the world’s ‘greatest’ country.

The number of norms he’s shattered and the way he’s been so corrosive in an already fraught political situation in America, and indeed the world, has been unbearable.

More and more people are calling this brand of conservative-populism that’s on the rise within the Republican Party, Trumpisim. The movement that’s coalesced with Trump in power checks all the boxes for Robert Paxton’s definition of fascism and that’s concerning, if not outright alarming.

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It never ceases to amaze me, even now, that in the face of all this, the Democrats chose Joe Biden, three years Trump’s senior at 77, and the vice president of the previous administration; that in the face of such a drastic swing to the right, the Democrats decided centrism would be the best away forward.

All political biases aside, I really think younger candidates would be far more welcome in times like these. People who might bring some new ideas to the table about climate change, police reform, taxation or any other number of things.

As I sit here writing this at midnight on Nov. 4, I’m disheartened to see that Trump and all he stands for has not been thoroughly and conclusively rebuked by America. Instead, it’s been a long drawn-out night with both candidates tied neck-in-neck in early projections. Of course, no matter what Trump may say, the results won’t be finalized till all the ballots are counted.

Predictably, of course, he declared an early victory despite trailing his opponent. It would seem we’re headed towards a repeat of Bush vs Gore where the Supreme Court may well decide the ‘will’ of the American people where, conveniently, Trump has appointed three justices in his tenure as president including Amy Coney Barret, confirmed barely a week ago now.

The one good thing I can say Trump has done for America is galvanized the public about the importance of voting. Even during a once in a century pandemic, voter turnout is the highest in a century. One hopes this type of political engagement carries on no matter the outcome.

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