Most of the press knew the election results before the first vote was cast. They knew it just like they did in 2016. After a couple days digesting their disastrous election forecasts, the relationship between the elite media and the American voter is looking more and more like an old dialogue from the Spanish comedian Tono, a master of the absurd:
– My daughter, believe it or not, could have married a duke!
– And why didn’t she?
– Because the duke didn’t want to.
And that is exactly it. Joe Biden could have gotten the landslide election victory the media foretold, so why didn’t he? Because the American voters didn’t want to give it to him. Instead, he eked out a projected victory that, despite Nancy Pelosi’s claim, is far from a mandate.
In keeping with a long leftist tradition, the Democrats treated the elections like a plebiscite against Trump. But let no one be fooled: It wasn’t Trump that bothered them but the Right, especially the Right that says what it really thinks about freedom, education, or life. They went up against him just as they did with George W. Bush, with bitter personal hatred as their weapon. However, hate is a good destroyer but a bad builder.
Our democratic systems agree that most voters vote against something. It’s about avoiding a greater evil. And yet, that is almost never enough to win an election. Getting rid of Trump is not a big enough reason to vote for someone as nondescript as Joe Biden and to bother supporting someone as extreme as Kamala Harris. Elections, after all, are won, not lost. The Democrats bet everything on Trump losing, but that’s not enough for them to win. They wanted change, but few Democratic voters could calmly answer the key question: Change to what?
On the other hand, let’s say it once and for all: The U.S. electoral system is like a bloody crossword puzzle in Swahili about lepidopterology. I spent a good part of election night following the results from Europe — everyone is free to choose the way they want to atone for their sins — and, in all truth, no European journalist fully understands the American electoral system, which results in them spending hours saying things that sound right enough but are actually gobbledegook. I prefer to admit that I don’t understand it and that, if I ever were to understand it, I don’t feel I’d be able to explain it without pregnant pauses and blatant errors — a bit like Joe Biden giving a speech without a teleprompter.
Naturally, during this election week, innumerable experts in data analysis and electoral forecasts have popped up just as experts in immunology did at the beginning of the pandemic, back when you could still go to a bar, down ten bottles of beer, lean on the counter, and remark, “I could fix the virus in three days.” Many analysts, beginning with Biden, are so intelligent that they already knew he’d win, they had already dictated what judges should do in the case of litigation, and they busied themselves with adding to their long list of clichéd epithets for Trump, the ones they already gave him long before the elections ended in pretty much the same way they began: in a mess more terrifying than a Lovecraftian nightmare.
Of course, it is important to know just who is going to be the next president. As a humble representative of the collective of political columnists, I demand my right to know whom I should insult every day for the next four years. But we must not lose sight of the fact that, if we look at the Left’s plebiscite approach, the Right has emerged victorious in this regard. After everything that happened Tuesday, the only thing that has been made clear is that the much-anticipated flood of majority votes in favor of a leftward shift in the United States did not happen. I believe that to be more significant than knowing who the next president will be.
Trump has reason to be pleased, and Biden has reason to be disappointed — besides for sharing a candidacy with Harris — but neither will change the course of the economy, or employment rates, or the pandemic. I’m not suggesting for a moment that Trump’s and Biden-Harris’s policies on these issues are the same, but that the sensation of a given candidate’s victory or failure will not help the country, as we will begin to see in two or three or six weeks. In particular, presuming the leader of the Democrats moves into the White House, it will be amusing and even enticing to watch as he pulls out his wand and casts a spell on the coronavirus to stop the pandemic in record time, keeping the promise he made several times during the election campaign. It is not, by any means, his riskiest promise.
Hard times are comin’, as Johnny Cash said, and the next president will, first of all, have to unite the country and heal electoral wounds or he will have started his mandate by failing. And this time it will not be a personal failure but a national one. A failure almost as immense as that of the pollsters, for whom I ask today a prayer for their eternal rest.
The terrible thing, the abominable thing, the worst news for the country, is that this reconciliation, presuming Trump finally does not renew his term, would have to be brought about by a sectarian Kamala Harris. Because, and once again quoting Tono, with these plebiscite results, we can only say to Biden what the doctor said to his patient in one of the Spanish writer’s most famous dialogues: “According to the symptoms you present, and if this book is not wrong, you are dead.”