With progress blocked, the US election could entrench the poisonous status quo
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Whatever else emerges from the US’s 2020 election, one thing is clear: it has not delivered a comprehensive repudiation of Donald Trump. The shock of 2016 has not been undone. There is nothing in the result to expiate the humiliation of the last four years, the disgraceful vulgarity and illegality. Even if Joe Biden is ultimately sworn in as president, the fact that Trump was not booed off the greatest stage in world politics in disgrace will be hard for Biden’s supporters to come to terms with. This is an inconvenient truth not for the US alone, it has implications for the rest of the world too.
Rather than a rejection of Trump, the election results reshuffle the finely balanced and deeply polarised configuration that has prevailed in American politics since the days of Bill Clinton in the 1990s. As in 2016, Trump lost the overall vote, but he continues to command overwhelming majorities in small-town and rural white America. Despite his vituperative hostility towards immigrants, Trump made remarkable gains among the rather diverse group crudely lumped together under the label Latino. Confusingly, he did well not only with anti-socialist communities of Cubans and Venezuelans in Miami, but with Mexican-Americans in Texas too. And he continues to garner a majority of votes from white women and white men of all backgrounds.