One of the calendar wisdoms of politics is that success has many fathers (or mothers). Whoever wins doesn’t have to justify himself – but this rule now seems to have been overridden in the USA. Because during Donald Trump Even in the defeat the Republicans united behind them, the dispute broke out among the Democrats, no sooner had Joe Biden been proclaimed the winner of the presidential election. The party left to the New York congressman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez accused moderate colleagues of having conducted an amateurish election campaign – the moderates in turn complained that the left wing of the party had driven voters into the arms of the president with radical demands such as “defund the police” – the de facto abolition of the police.
There is more to the conflict than the usual friction within the traditionally bellicose American left. Because the result of the presidential election confronts the Democrats with very fundamental questions. You have recaptured the White House, and with what – at least at first glance – a respectable result. Joe Biden won over 78 million votes, more than any other candidate before him. That’s the good news. At the same time, however, the majority of Democrats in the House of Representatives has shrunk. And the dream of taking the Senate from the Republicans is unlikely to come off again.
But what’s almost worse: On election day, the Democrats’ hopes that a new, multi-ethnic America would essentially secure a subscription to the White House for the party. Even in the darkest hours of the Trump presidency, Democrats could comfort themselves with the idea that the man in the White House was just the last flinch of a backward America before demographic change in states like Texas or Florida would automatically give the Democrats power.
But that, it now turned out, was an illusion. Biden owed his victory largely to moderate white voters in the American suburbs who turned their backs on the bully in the Oval Office. In the case of minorities like Latinos, on the other hand, Trump was even able to grow compared to the election in 2016, according to the Post-election survey of the television station CNN by four points to 32 percent. That was one of the main reasons Trump could hold states like Florida or Texas. Even with black voters, Trump could easily win, and 55 percent of white women voted for the president.
The party is now faced with very uncomfortable questions: Why did Latinos choose a man who has labeled Mexicans a criminal and rapist and who is building a wall on the US southern border? How did it come about that Trump, who has only contempt for the Black Lives Matter movement, was able to increase his share of black voters? And why did so many women choose a president who has a penchant for porn stars and pin-up girls and at the same time maneuvers a lawyer to the Supreme Court who could overturn the right to abortion?
How difficult these questions are could be seen in one this week Interview read that Barack Obama the magazine “The Atlantic” gave. Obama recalled that the gold-studded tastelessness of the Trump world was not so far from black rap culture – and that may also be a reason why some of the African-American men voted for the president. “It’s all about bling-bling, women, money,” Obama said. “Many rap videos use the same standards of success as Donald Trump.” It was sentences that immediately earned Obama the criticism on social media that he was playing with racist clichés.
The Democrats are in a dispute that could split the party. During the election campaign, the truce held between the progressives and the rest of the party. The will to expel Trump from the White House masked all conflicts. But now moderate MPs are speaking openlythat they consider some of their leftist colleagues to be dogmatists who frighten off the center of America with their radical demands.
If the Democrats indulge in the mistaken idea that November 3rd was a success, the party will be crushed by the Republicans in the congressional election in two years, said Abigail Spanberger of Virginia, who two years ago took her seat in Congress to a Republican had decreased and was now only able to defend it with difficulty. She urged her party friends never to use the word “socialism” again if they wanted to win elections.
In fact, there is nothing to suggest that the majority of Americans want a radical political change. Even in liberal California, which had voted for Biden by almost a two-thirds majority, voters threw down three progressive plebiscites on November 3, including one that would give gig industry workers – Uber drivers, for example – a minimum of social Security would have given.
And a Democratic congressman from the state of Arizona, whom Biden narrowly won, pointed out to his left-wing party friends how little his constituents valued when they are addressed like participants in a seminar on gender-sensitive language. When asked how the party could convince Latinos, Ruben Gallego wrote down Twitter: »First by not using the term Latinx.«
What will be important
There has been much speculation in Washington about what Trump was trying to achieve by firing Secretary of Defense Mark Esper shortly after the election and replacing him with Christopher Miller, a loyal supporter. Did Trump want to make the military docile? Was he even planning a coup? These worries seem to be exaggerated – but as it turns out, Miller is apparently supposed to carry out Trump’s last foreign policy will.
On Tuesday he announcedto halve the number of US troops in Afghanistan by mid-January, and in Iraq it is expected to drop from 3,000 to 2,500. One can confidently doubt that the decision has anything to do with the military or political situation on site. Trump is clearly concerned with delivering on a campaign promise at the last minute. Joe Biden then has to grapple with the consequences of the hasty decision.
The stories of the week
I can recommend the following stories from my colleagues in the USA:
My colleague Philipp Oehmke looks at his time as SPIEGEL’s New York correspondent.
Alexander Sarovic analyzes the (renewed) failure of the US polling institutes.
I wish you a pleasant week!
Your René Pfister