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Trump Lost, But His Strategy Worked

Published 10 Nov, 2020 02:31pm
Why Trump’s supporters will always remain loyal – and why that’s worrying.
Photo: The Economic Times
Photo: The Economic Times

"The virus is gone. Now let's get to work on Covid."

This was just one of the many tweets I read last week, when the internet had a field day over President Donald Trump's election loss. Since November 4, there has been worldwide bubbling euphoria on social media after Joe Biden was elected. There were however some dissenting voices and some even mourned the departing of Trump the "great leader".

Clearly, as always, things are not that simple.

We live in a world of greys. There are a multitude of thought processes, biases, experiences and preferences harboured within every single one of us. We are complex personalities and the internet makes this very apparent. In my last blog, I wrote that Trump's voters shared his personal attributes. But that is not the case. Even today it is perfectly possible to find a rational, kind, generous and cultured person who supports Trump. And yes, that includes ethnic and religious groups. Seventy million votes are no joke - Biden managed to secure only four million more.

Paradoxically, the US electoral system fails to recognise this. It seeks to divide the population into two groups: the conservative, religious, somewhat affluent Republicans and the diverse, liberal Democrats. Every voter is expected to slot neatly into one of these extremes. The "Republican" package is by default implied to include a distaste for ethnic and religious diversity and favour a "trickle-down" economy. The "Democratic" package expects apathy towards religious, cultural and social norms, an endorsement of new societal norms that are NOT internalised by the majority of population but are celebrated superficially due to "wokeness" and fear of being cancelled and the championing of diversity in all shapes and forms.

The breaking news is that people cannot be classified so neatly. The Republican camp has plenty of non-Whites, populist-leaning, and open-minded individuals. Conversely, you can find quite a few racists and religious conservatives on the other side as well.

Trump stood for a freewheeling style of governance, where his own opinions mattered more than reality. Witness his ongoing feuds with the media, scientists, proponents of diversity champions, gender rights activists, world governments (with exception of North Korea) and with the more inclusive voices in his own party. The truth is that 70 million people believe in this fight and that despite his personal failings, he is good for America and their own personal health, safety and well-being.

Given that Biden won by a few thousand votes in the key swing states, it is clear that Trump's army is alive and well, and they will spend the next four years watching a 78-year-old white, relatively conservative former serviceman, attempt to reconcile some of the ultra-liberal narratives with the rest of his party. Biden ultimately is a dignified, reserved statesman who belongs to the pre-woke world. A slight misstep on his part will be magnified while attempts to abide by this culture will be interpreted as him "trying too hard".

Trump has refused to accept defeat and is threatening to sue. It is unlikely he will formally concede. He will keep on spreading lies and attempt to delegitimize the electoral process - completely on-brand. His followers previously saw the media as their enemy; now they will add the 74 million Biden voters to their hit list. Losing this election has done nothing but give a perverse credence to Trump's "victim" branding.

He may leave the White House (although I am not completely sure he will do it on his own), but he has cemented his legacy as a leader. While people voted for Biden in record numbers, they also voted for Trump in record numbers.

Who knows - four years pass by in a jiffy!

Talha bin Hamid is an accountant by day and an opinionated observer of pop culture, an avid reader, a gamer and an all-around nerd by night.