Trump to go, but nature of his loss reveals much

Without coronavirus Donald Trump would likely have secured a second term as the United States president, writes Nicholas Khoo.

Once the seemingly never-ending 2020 US Presidential elections end, there will be a necessary postmortem in the Republican Party.

Whatever mistakes are highlighted for remedial action, the fact remains that the Trump campaign barely lost.

The proximate cause of Trump’s failure is his catastrophic handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

That should send a shiver down our spines.

Why? Because it suggests that absent the coronavirus pandemic, Trump arguably would have secured a second term, with all the likely consequences this would have entailed for the US and the world.

The stark fact is that for all his norm-busting and policy missteps, Trump performed remarkably well in the election.

At the time of writing, Trump had secured slightly more than 47 % of the electorate who voted.

The more than 70million votes cast for Trump is the second-highest tally in US history.

That is an increase from the nearly 63million votes Trump secured in 2016, when he secured 46% of the vote.

To observers who lament the Trump presidency, a necessary truth needs to be heard.

The US political system was in trouble long before Trump arrived on the scene.

His election in 2016 is a symptom of an ailing political system that has deteriorated further during his tenure.

Trump’s legacy is one of intentionally accentuating the divisions he inherited in 2016.

He has excelled in deepening the Democratic-Republican divide; inflaming differences in US society; increasing friction with both allies and rivals, notably, China and Iran.

Given Trump’s penchant for crisis, we should count on him not leaving the scene quietly.

Speaking off the record, one Trump official noted: "For decades, long before the presidency, his whole life was a crisis and he thrived in that environment. It’d be boring if he just got blown out or won big. That would be very un-Trumpian for there not to be some calamity involved."

Joseph Biden’s campaign has remained resolute in the face of Trump’s bizarre press conference last Thursday, at which he voiced unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud and claimed victory in the presidential election.

Andrew Bates, a Biden campaign spokesman, expressed no concern about the prospect of Trump refusing to leave office after losing the election.

According to Bates, "the American people will decide this election. And the United States government is perfectly capable of escorting trespassers out of the White House".

That may be so. But whether a Biden administration can repair the damage left behind by Trump is quite another question.

Biden will need the co-operation of the likely Republican Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell.

McConnell is a formidable opponent who largely succeeded in thwarting the Obama administration’s domestic agenda.

And even if a defeated Trump spends his post-presidency period mired in legal battles to avoid bankruptcy or even prison time, the riven US electorate that elected him will still be around.

For all our sakes, let us hope that Biden succeeds in stabilising the US political system.

 - Nicholas Khoo is an associate professor in the politics programme at the University of Otago.



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I disagree, the US Political System appears to be in good health and checks and balances work. The US election showed a democratic system allowing robust exchange of ideas. I think NZ has the greater problem. NZ journalist Karl du Fresne recently described the NZ political landscape as "frightened conservatives hiding in shell holes". The balance isn't right and perhaps this has something to do with incompetence in the National Party governance. Stuff which owns about 70% of mastheads has pretty much shut down any debate to the liberal content it now prioritises. Is that healthy for a significant media company to filter out any ideas it doesn't want its audience to read? The ODT allows for debate and great to have the opportunity to add some thoughts to the content.

You are right re the NZ media (especially Stuff) where comments are weighted to remain "politically correct" rather than open, honest and even challenging to the accepted view. We saw such action during our election build-up when minor parties rarely got a mention in the media which makes me wonder how far have we come since our FPP system of voting when the focus is/was on the two major players only.

Much like his Otago cohort Patman, Koo is clueless about what just transpired in the US. In the weeks prior to the election, Patman, Koo, and the media assured us that the US election was going to be a "Blow out" for Biden. A repudiation of Trump and his policies. This was no blow out for Biden. As of right now, there are over 10 different lawsuits in 5 separate states questioning the accuracy and legitimacy of the vote. If those lawsuits aren't decided by 14 Dec 20 the results of some states won't count and no electoral votes are awarded. What many Kiwis don't understand is that the US constitution mandates that these actions/events take place on specific dates after the election. These dates are inviolable. On 23 Dec 20 each state sends its electoral votes to Congress. If neither candidate has 270 electoral votes then on 01 Jan 21. the house selects the next president. Each state gets 1 vote. The vote for each state is decided by the party in that state that holds the majority of seats. The Democrats hold the house but the republicans hold the plurality in the states. Trump would win with 28 Republican votes. Discount the legal challenges at you own risk. Trump could win

Finally, somebody who has a clue! Spot on. Trump isn't going to concede given the fact that states might miss these deadlines and it goes down to a house vote where each state gets 1 vote. States have 5 weeks to get their results certified or lose the right to pledge electors. The media declaring Biden the winner is an illusion until states certify their votes, which will take weeks. I'd hold off on celebrating Biden as a winner until 14 December after the electors meet with Congress. Maybe Biden has 270 electoral votes, maybe not? Either way, Patman, Koo and ODT aren't telling the truth...again!

In 1986 the TV mini-series, George Washington, The Forging of a Nation was first screened. It's a great watch if you actually want to understand how the US Constitution came to be. It has all the components of today's political drama, State rivalry, fake news, personal interest, an entitled ruling class, treachery, sexual blackmail and the fight for transparent rule of law without fear nor favour so that the will of the people is heard, respected and enacted, above all else.
Patman and Koo need to spend less time reading the Washington Post and spend more time learning about The Constitution. YouTube is a great source and it's free. It's unfortunate all the ad revenue I generate goes to Google in the US and not NZ media but I can't find any resemblance informative sources here, not even from our universities.
As for Covid being Trump's downfall, it was dead time during the lockdown that gave me the opportunity to look beyond the shallowness of mass media.
It is the rule of law, under The Constitution, with all it's checks and balances that will determine who is President.
Thanks FrankieC for explaining what happens if the States can't get their act together by 23rd December 20

ODT where do you get all these insanely biased leftist opinions?

One party governments---here we all go, willing or not.

"Trump refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he lost, and he falsely declared victory long before counting was complete", the same as what Biden is doing - falsely declaring victory when there are still votes to be counted (and fraudulent ones to be weeded out). It seems to me that the media too has falsely declared him the winner and I will say what gives them the right to decide an election outcome? Should we just hand them the power to decide elections, because that is what seems to be happening anyway. So much for unbiased reporting and just reporting what is happening.
Media does NOT decide election outcomes.

Coup? I’m not sure the election is over yet. There’s plenty of evidence of voter fraud to work through. Did you know America set up a federal agency to track voter fraud, in 2018. CISA. There has been thousands of convictions in the past. Many recounts. Entire elections redone. I’d suggest waiting before running into a counter attack ambush.

Hi Donald!

No more talk of grabbing women's pelvis and dating pageant winners.

It's a better America in the morning.

Yes I agree with the last comments, as far as who is going to be the 46st President of America in this 2020 election is not over yet by a long way, really its not over as they say, till the fat lady sings.

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