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Trumpism isn’t dead. The battle for free democracies just got harder

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It’s been a difficult week for democracy. In a world chock-full of dictators, authoritarians, populists and predators, the land of the free made a spectacle of itself, and not entirely in a good way.

From China and Russia to the Middle East, anti-democrats laughed scornfully or looked for advantage as the US president trashed his own country’s election, denouncing it as the heist of the century.

Let’s take the positives first. Americans voted in huge numbers, exhibiting impressive faith in the democratic process. Joe Biden’s personal haul of about 74 million votes smashed Barack Obama’s record, set in 2008. Total turnout was put at 160 million, or 67%, the highest in 120 years.

Anywhere else, Biden’s lead over Trump of more than 4 million votes would have won him the presidency – but in the US, stuck in its constitutional ways, the arcane electoral college has the final say.

This degree of public engagement in a week when the daily US total of Covid-19 cases topped 100,000 for the first time and the death toll surpassed 234,000 was remarkable. There were election protests aplenty but few reported incidents of violence. Unlike 2000, the count generally went smoothly, though slowly. Like 2016, most opinion polls were bemusingly wide of the mark.

Biden’s demeanour in the immediate, confusing aftermath was exemplary. He calmly called for patience. He stuck scrupulously to known facts; he did not over-reach. And he stressed that all votes, whether Democrat and Republican, were of equal importance and must be tallied.

This was an indication of Biden’s stated intent to revive consensus politics and heal America’s divisions. If this was a referendum on the future of democracy, it passed the........

© The Guardian

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