Opinion: even if Joe Biden is confirmed as the 46th president of the United States, Trumpism has won

The final outcome of the US election is still in the balance. Votes are still being counted, which is how it should be in a democracy. Of course, Donald Trump does not agree, as he made clear in an incendiary press conference while votes were still being counted. Trump’s views can be safely dismissed. After all, his conduct over the last four years does not suggest that he is an authority on democratic theory and procedures. Someone needs to have a word in his ear: "it’s democracy, stupid".

In that same press conference Trump also said "we have already won". On this, he may be right, but not in the sense he meant it. The Republican Party had won before a single ballot vote was cast in this election. Why? Because a few days before this historic election, Amy Coney Barrett was elected to the Supreme Court of the United States. Whatever the result of the presidential election, this is a major blow for progressive politics in the United States, and a major victory for conservative America.

The concern here is not that Trump will ask the Supreme Court to bar late-arriving mail-in ballots. It doesn't work like that: the president doesn't have the power to ask the Supreme Court anything. The real issue is that the Supreme Court can rule against progressive policies and laws, from abortion to health care, for many years to come.

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From RTÉ News, Judge Amy Coney Barrett confirmed to US Supreme Court

One of the first decision the new Supreme Court is likely to take will be to strike down the Affordable Care Act, the health law known as Obamacare. This was Barack Obama’s greatest feat during his presidency, and yet the Supreme Court could wipe it out. If that were to happen and the Affordable Care Act was repealed, a total of 24 million people would lose health coverage by 2021. This is something that would be tragic at the best of times, but it can only be described as criminal in the midst of a pandemic.

There have been nearly 10 million cases of Covid-19 in the US, and 234,000 deaths. The US has been badly hit by the virus and has the most recorded Covid-19 deaths of any country in the world. For this reason alone, one would have expected Trump to be humiliated in the election. But that has not happened. For the American voters, Covid-19 was only a minor concern, and perhaps understandably so. Right now, in Europe we are not in much better shape, with a second wave and severe lockdowns everywhere.

That, in part, explains why the pollsters got it terribly wrong yet again, and why there was no landslide win for Joe Biden. Even if the Democrats' man wins this election, he will squeeze in by the slightest of margins. Hardly the resounding victory many hoped for, and many other expected.

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From RTÉ News' States of Mind podcast, what happens now that the final result is still too close to call?

Perhaps Trump will be asked to leave the White House, and if he does (which remains to be seen), he will do so holding his head high. 68 million American voted for him and no candidate has ever lost an election with that many votes. By comparison, Hillary Clinton lost in 2016 after securing 65.8 million votes. Yes, Trump got more votes than Clinton - this time. 

There is a very simple reason why Trump is still a very popular president. In fact, it's a very obvious reason. As Bill Clinton memorably said in 1992, "it's the economy, stupid". Had Covid-19 not happened, this election would have been over by now, and the world would be waking up to four more years of Trump. A year ago, before the nightmare of Covid-19 started, the American economy was going strong, unemployment was low and business confidence was high. That’s what voters want, and they still trust Trump to be their best hope for a re-invigorated economy.

There is a truth about the Trump phenomenon that the Democratic Party refuses to learn: blue-collar workers voted for Trump. Many American voters care about climate change, and they care about people who died from Covid-19, but most of all they want a job that gives them dignity and protection for their families.

From RTÉ Radio 1's Morning Ireland, Megan Messerly, reporter with the Nevada Independent, discusses the latest developments in the US presidential race in the state of Nevada

The Democratic Party no longer represents the working-class. That’s a major problem for a party that is supposed to be on the Left of the other main party in American politics. The Democratic Party is facing a paradox they cannot solve: how to represent and win the trust of the working-class voters without coming across as socialist. It’s easy in Europe, because socialism is a legitimate political ideology, but not in the US. Would blue-collar voters have voted for Bernie Sanders? We will never know, but we do know that Hispanic voters in Florida are allergic to socialism.

Even if Biden is confirmed as the 46th president of the United States, Trumpism has won. If he wants to, Trump can run again for president in 2024 - Grover Cleveland served two non-consecutive terms in 1884 and 1892 – but, even if he doesn’t, we will see more Trumps infiltrate American politics in the years to come. After Donald, we will have Ivanka, Donald Junior, Tiffany, Eric and perhaps even Barron. We can assume Melania will stay out of electoral politics. The Trumps will be the next political dynasty in American politics in the mould of the Kennedys and the Bushs. Some people prematurely spoke of this election as the end of Trump, but it’s only the beginning.

The views expressed here are those of the author and do not represent or reflect the views of RTÉ