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Donald Trump’s defeat is wonderful for the world and trouble for Boris Johnson

7 426 1791

Only Americans have a vote in their presidential election, but the whole world has a stake. Never more so has that been the case than in 2020. The planet has been mesmerised by the compelling theatre of American democracy and nowhere more so than the UK. Some here – all right, me – have become as transfixed as any American psephological nerd by voting patterns in Clayton County, Georgia.

Not only does the winner occupy one of the most potent seats on the planet, America’s choice of president can set, confirm or reverse global ideological trends. Because of a common language, historical ties and political classes that interact a lot, the cross-currents across the Atlantic can be highly influential.

America turned decisively to the right when it chose Ronald Reagan in 1980, doing so 18 months after Britain had executed a similar shift by electing Margaret Thatcher. Mrs Thatcher, so unpopular at the time that there was talk among Tories about removing her, was fortified and emboldened by the arrival of an ideological soulmate in the Oval Office. By taking the White House for the “New Democrats” in 1992, Bill Clinton provided ideas and inspiration for Tony Blair’s New Labour. During that decade, and to the consternation of rivals to both left and right, their “Third Way” style of politics swept through progressive parties from Brazil to Germany.

The Brexit vote here in June 2016, our stark break with postwar history, was a harbinger of another great rupture, Donald Trump’s victory that November. This, in turn, energised nationalist populists around the planet and encouraged them to think that the future belonged to them. It contributed to the febrile climate in which the Tory party decided that a punt on another reckless gambler with startling blond hair and a record of mendacity was not as outlandish as it had previously seemed.

There is already much rune-reading of the long-term reverberations of this US election. A clutch of conservative commentators and politicians gleefully notes that the Democrats failed to sweep all before them and conclude that leftwing “identity politics” has been quashed. Yet the larger failure is that of rightwing “culture war” politics whose ultra-bellicose and previously most successful champion has lost the US presidency by the thumping margin of more........

© The Guardian

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