The American Election 2020, as refracted through the Financial Times Editorial Board, Edward Luce & an assist from Niall Ferguson . Political Observer comments

I woke up at 4:30 AM PST, this morning, and checked twitter for the latest Election News, not knowing what to expect, other than bad news. Now at the breakfast table, I’ve read first the Editorial Board of The Financial Time on the election. I’ve quoted what I think was essential, from the thickets of the political chatter, adroitly softened, but still aided by the thoroughly discredited ‘polling addiction’, of commentators looking to legitimise their political speculations.

Headline: A critical moment for US democracy

Sub-headline: Institutions have a responsibility to ensure every vote legitimately cast is counted

Whatever the ultimate outcome of this election, the voting starkly highlights the social, economic and political fissures in America. As in 2016, the country appears split down the middle — with the Democrats continuing to hold their edge on the coasts and in the cities and Republican support strong in small towns, rural areas and the middle of the country.

The task of responsible leaders is to bring their divided nation together around a shared respect for the democratic process. Tragically, if all too predictably, Mr Trump is already failing this test.


After the ‘Editorial’ I read Mr. Luce’s

Headline: A bitter US election that resolves little

Sub-headline: Whatever the result, America’s divisions will make governing very hard

Either way, America faces two dangers, one immediate, the other structural. The first is that the judiciary may well get involved in deciding the outcome. Constitutional scholars have been warning about this for months. This is because of the order in which ballots are counted in the three key swing states.

In other systems where the president is elected, Mr Biden would already have been declared the winner. America’s electoral college, which gives outsized influence to small, rural states, is like a dodgy appendix that haemorrhages a little more bile with each election.

If Mr Biden eventually prevails, he will inherit a profoundly divided country that will be hard to govern, especially if the Senate remains in Republican hands.

If Mr Trump loses, he will still have outperformed all expectations. The Republican party is Trumpian for the foreseeable future. “We are a working class party now. That’s the future,” tweeted Josh Hawley, the Missouri senator who has 2024 presidential aspirations. The American people have spoken. And it is a cacophonous noise.


Mr. Luce cites Statistical Golden Boy Nate Silver in his essay, yet he offers nothing memorable, nor particularly insightful. That he, and his newspaper, were the propagandists, apologists for the toxic mythology of Neo-Liberalism, that destroyed the Civic Institutions, that could have been the antidote to Trump and Trumpism. Not to speak of a vital/viable electoral process: this is the ghost that haunts all the political agonizing, displayed as fraught political moments, to be played out in the concatenating present.

For the elusive quantity of a sub-rosa Trumpism, in its carefully modulated iteration, the reader must consult Niall Ferguson’s essay at Bloomberg Opinion:

Headline: Three Words That Haunt Joe Biden: ‘Dewey Defeats Truman’

Sub-headline: The 1948 presidential election was bigger surprise than 2016, and has eerie parallels to 2020

Niall Ferguson can’t quite bring himself to advocate for Trump! He too attached to bourgeois political respectability: recall his Keynes Problem? So he will invoke Dewey/Truman election, in 1948, to do the actual work of Doom Saying for Senile Old Joe and his consort.

Political Observer

(Added November 5, 2020, 7: 50 AM PST

I encourage readers to look, at and consider Mr. Ferguson’s enlightening essay, even though it was a not very adroit attack on Biden, via a dubious historical comparison. Ferguson is a very accomplished historian, who in this instance writes, not just with ideological motive, but with a focus that makes this rewarding reading, given my caveats. Here is a link where this essay may, in time, be posted: )

About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.'
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