Donald Trump: Decent politicians must find an honourable alternative to his all-too-seductive style of populism – Scotsman comment

The now almost-certain victory for Joe Biden over Donald Trump in the US presidential election will be a cause for celebration among those who saw the latter as an immoral and dangerous politician.

A believer in the bizarre QAnon conspiracy theory speaks to a crowd of Donald Trump's supporters in Phoenix, Arizona (Picture: Dario Lopez-Mills/AP)
A believer in the bizarre QAnon conspiracy theory speaks to a crowd of Donald Trump's supporters in Phoenix, Arizona (Picture: Dario Lopez-Mills/AP)

However, such jubilation should be tempered by the knowledge that some 70 million Americans voted for a candidate whose blundering responses to the coronavirus outbreak alone should have produced a landslide for Biden.

In the cold light of day, the fact that he had so many other flaws, including a dubious attitude towards democracy and his at-times open overtures to far-right groups, and yet still attracted such a large number of supporters has to be a real cause for concern.

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When it comes to reflect on the election result, the Republican party may well conclude Trump’s style of politics remains a viable path to power and decide to give its inventor another chance in four years’ time or select a candidate cut from the same cloth.

It may be true that if the pandemic had never happened, Trump would have won, although an analysis by the Associated Press found that 93 per cent of the 376 counties with the highest number of new cases of Covid-19 per head in the US actually backed Trump.

In 2016, much of Trump’s support came from low-income voters, but political scientist Professor Charles Stewart, of MIT’s Election Data and Science Lab, reported the President had lost some in that group in 2020, while making gains among voters with family incomes of more than $100,000 a year. “That right now appears to be the biggest demographic shift I’m seeing,” he told the Guardian. So it is not entirely true to view Trump’s “base” as just white, working-class Americans.

Given Trump’s appalling flirtation with white supremacists, it is unsurprising he struggled to attract votes from people of colour but shocking that so many white Americans were still prepared to vote for him.

The challenge now for mainstream Republicans in the style of the late John McCain, Democrats and politicians around the world who subscribe to the ideals of liberal democracy is to learn lessons from the appeal of Trumpian populism in order to find an honest, honourable and kind alternative to its lies, hatred and vitriol.

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