Joe Biden. Photo: George Skidmore / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0, license linked at bottom of article Joe Biden. Photo: George Skidmore / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0, license linked at bottom of article

Biden’s centrist platform has failed to materialise the ‘blue wave’ in what should have been the easiest election against a failing Trump, writes Shabbir Lakha

Not so differently from 2016, the projected decisive victory for Biden quickly evaporated within hours of polls closing. On election day, Biden was an average of 8 points ahead of Trump and considered in the running to take Florida and even Texas. As the votes came in, Biden’s path to the White House got narrower and narrower.

The final result may take days before it’s known, but for now it’s neck and neck. Although Biden is still predicted to be in the lead in both the popular and electoral college vote, the margin has been massively slashed. While Biden assured his supporters that he was on course for victory at a drive-in rally in the middle of the night, it’s clear his camp is frantic. One campaigner on a live election broadcast sighed in relief when it was projected that Biden would win one of the electoral college votes in Nebraska – because that could be a tie breaker if both candidates get 269 votes a-piece.

Nonetheless, Trump’s declaration of victory is clearly unsubstantiated. There are still millions of ballots, particularly mail-in ballots which are likely to be majority Democrat, being counted that could clinch it for either candidate. As he threatened he would prior to the election, his lawyers have begun filing lawsuits in key battleground states like Pennsylvania in a bid to stop vote counting, and in his announcement this morning he said they’re going to take it to the majority-conservative Supreme Court.

This is clearly an affront to democracy and the beginning of what could be a protracted constitutional crisis that will cut deeper than this election. Trump’s assertion that American voters are being disenfranchised and that his victory is being “stolen” is a very dangerous one.

One thing that this election has shown already quite clearly is that his base turned out. This is a base that includes a very significant minority of armed and often organised white supremacists. His instruction to the Proud Boys to “stand by” at one of the presidential debates is even more alarming after his statement today attempting to delegitimise the results, and could very well inspire far-right violence.

A Democrat failure

That it has reached this point, however, can only be seen as a massive failure on the part of the Democrats. This has been a president who in his 4-year presidency has not delivered for working people in any sense, has increased global insecurity and categorically failed to deal with the pandemic. 250,000 Americans have died from Covid-19 since March, the economy is in a nosedive and over 40 million have lost their jobs while the richest billionaires have increased their wealth by over $637bn since the pandemic began.

This should have been the easiest election for the Democrats to win. That the ‘blue wave’ failed to materialise and their best case scenario is just barely beating Trump is an indictment of centrism. Biden chose to reject Medicare for All in the middle of a pandemic where tens of millions of people don’t have access to healthcare. Even a Fox News national voter poll on election day found that 72% of Americans supported a “government-run healthcare” system.

He rejected the Green New Deal when climate change is one of the top issues for young voters, and he responded to Black Lives Matter – the biggest protest movement in US history – by doubling down on a platform of law and order.

It turns out pitching your entire campaign only on not being your opponent doesn’t inspire people. Given it’s exactly what Hilary Clinton did 4 years ago, you would have thought the Democrats would have learned the lesson.

It’s also clear that Bernie Sanders, who was offering the popular policies that Biden rejected, would likely have fared far better. The Democratic establishment did everything they could to stop him becoming the nominee. They all but announced that they would prefer a loss to Trump than to have Bernie Sanders irrevocably shift the party to the left and challenge the status quo.

But of course they didn’t say that, it was hidden behind concerns of Sanders’ “electability”. So they helped sabotage the candidate who offered the policies that have proved to be the most popular with the American electorate, in favour for the “safe bet” Biden who was supposed to deliver a landslide against Trump. Meanwhile, Democratic Socialists of America-endorsed candidates for the Congress have won 19 out of 22 of their seats.

Centrism is dead, and if it wasn’t already known, Biden has confirmed it. Whatever the final outcome of the election and in the defence of democracy in the days ahead, an independent left needs to get organised to fight for meaningful change.

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Shabbir Lakha

Shabbir Lakha is a Stop the War officer, a People's Assembly activist and a member of Counterfire.

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