Disclaimer: I am not a US citizen, nor a resident.
With the US 2020 elections now mostly over (but we’ll see), now’s a good time to reflect on some learnings and thoughts.
A narrow win
Many Biden voters feel this is a cause for celebration (one such example is here). However, while the LA Times may say “… the people have spoken, and they chose class over crass“, this could not be farther from the truth.
California – which together with Massachusetts and DC had the highest for-Biden ratio – had 33.4% of the votes go to President Trump. That means that, on average, 1 out of 3 Californians favoured Trump. Calling such a marginal result “the people have spoken” is dangerous, in that it ignores roughly half the voters; half the partners.
It’s one thing to be happy that your team won; it’s a whole other to say “we’re a million times better” when you win by a single point (unless of course you’re Donald Trump – in that case, it’s your modus operandi). This kind of result simply means a likely repeat in 2024.
Corruption in politics
Mr. Trump had the nasty habit of misbehaving himself in front of the press, nurses, families of fallen veterans, and of course world leaders. We are not likely to see such behaviours again in the next four years.
However, while his style is outrageous, and many of his claims are patently false, we should not jump to assuming life on the democratic side are better once things are behind closed doors.
Bill Clinton – a man with an estimated IQ of 156 – famously said “I did not have sexual relations with that woman“. There is no way he actually thought that makes sense, and we should not be forgiving towards this perjury. His last-day-in-office pardons should also not be viewed as an innocent act, to put it mildly.
Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail server is not a minor mistake, it is an action by a well informed individual to hide their steps; nor can we unequivocally say Joe Biden is in the clear here.
And to be clear, the situation is not better on the republican side;
Corruption – whether hidden or in plain sight – increases inequality, slows social mobility, chokes innovation, and most importantly reduces one’s feel of physical and psychological safety, even if he does not know that is the reason.
The natural polarization process that happens as people form larger groups is accelerating exponentially due to hyper-connectedness, as well as targeted polarization and psychological warfare (both internally and externally).
When looking at both major parties, you’ll find many voters now focus on choosing the lesser of two evils; they dislike/hate Trump, but dislike/hate Biden more, and vice versa.
If no structural effort is made to reduce polarization, this can – and will – end up devastating a nation.
The US 2020 election results are not a case of “the people have clearly chosen” , or of class over crass, but rather an indication of how deeply divided the US nation is. If that is not dealt with soon, the US will fail.
If you are living in the US, I leave you with two thoughts:
First, whether you live in California or Wyoming, a significant number of your neighbours are voting to the “other” party. These are typically good people, that typically have the best intentions – even if you disagree on how or end up voting differently. 99% of them are neither radical-left anarchists, nor radical-right gun lunatics.
Second, make a conscious effort to get along. Start by spending half an hour and come up with 5 things the “other side” is doing right – not minor things, not half-hearted, but ones that you can honestly praise them for. If you can’t do that – from either side of the table – you’re cutting yourself too much slack.
To have a good day, surround yourself by people who agree with you.
To have a good life, surround yourself by people who share the same overarching goals, but challenge your beliefs.