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LETTER: The beast tethered?

President Donald J. Trump - Reuters

In our pop culture society, politics has been reduced to a form of entertainment. The game of the year is now over with president-elect Joe Biden winning against the forces of evil and darkness. The Beast has been tethered — at least for the moment, or so progressives and liberals hope.

But things are not so clear. Biden won with only 53 per cent of the popular vote, hardly an overwhelming mandate. As the British Guardian put it, "Trump should have lost in a landslide." The fact that he didn't says much about the current and future state of American politics.

The fact that the Democrats failed to capture the Senate already has the Washington rumour mill suggesting that Nancy Pellosi, Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives, will be forced to step down. And representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has already indicated that the Democratic program must take a hard left turn.

The recent 2020 U.S. election, where key swing states were won or lost by only one percentage point, tells us just how badly the U.S. is divided. What is painfully apparent in retrospect is that the election results in 2016 were not an accident, nor were they merely an anti-Hillary protest vote. What they reflected, and what the recent election results confirm, is that the U.S. is a badly divided class society, based on economic and racial privilege.

Trumpism and Hillbilly fascism will not go away. To think so, is at best naive. Populism, nativism, and racism, as historian Richard Hofstadter has argued, are an integral part of the American experience from the earliest times to the present. A more polished and suave right-wing candidate will likely be successful where Trump failed. The white nationalist and alt- right (neo-fascist) militias will not go away; they just go underground. We ignore at our own peril the fact that Trump won 47 per cent of the popular vote . The underclass still wants its cut.

There are economic reasons why the Siren song of far-right white nationalism calls, both in the U.S. and Canada. Far-right slogans like "Make America Great Again," give the same rush as watching Saturday night hockey or Sunday night football. It gives people something to root for in their lives. This is politics as enter- tainment.

The fact that Mitch McConnell has already served notice that he intends to fight Biden's legislative agenda every inch of the way suggests that we can look forward to four years of Congressional gridlock.

Biden's election has saved us from the precipice. But it is only a reprieve. Progressives are in for a long and dirty fight.

Richard Deaton,
Stanley Bridge

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