2020 us election

The cult of Donald Trump

The thing we most need to understand right now is how you deprogram people who have been in a cult. By cult, I mean a group of people living out an imaginary world view created by a charismatic leader. These things sometimes end with the guru hopping on a private plane to escape the authorities; others end in mass suicide; still others go up in literal smoke, as David Koresh did, or sometimes they collapse in a welter of claims of abuse and corruption. But when the cult is political, and when the guru is the sitting president of the United States, it all gets a little messier. That’s what

Portrait of the week: Tiers, Scotch eggs and a devastated high street

Home The Commons voted by 291 votes to 78 for new coronavirus regulations putting 55 million people in England into the restrictive Tier 3 or the little less restrictive Tier 2, apart from the 700,000 or so folk of Cornwall, the Isle of Wight and the Scilly Isles. There were 55 Tory rebels, whom the government had attempted to placate by publishing a 48-page dossier, generally regarded as thin stuff. There would, they were also assured, be a review on 16 December of the areas put into tiers. ‘We do want to be as granular as possible,’ Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, told the Commons encouragingly. Labour let the regulations

Here comes President Joebama

‘So you’re seeing a team develop that I have great confidence in,’ said former president Barack Obama this week when asked about Joe Biden’s incoming administration. Obama sounds a bit of a World King these days, but you can’t blame him for feeling chipper. He has his third book of memoirs out (he only writes about himself, it seems), he’s making millions through publishing and Netflix deals, his great nemesis Donald Trump appears finally to have been vanquished — and his gang is taking charge of Washington again. Biden revealed a number of his cabinet ‘picks’ this week, and it’s a case of jobs for the old Obama boys and

Aristotle would have seen Trump’s behaviour as entirely normal

Donald Trump may be a narcissist, but since he is not mentally ill in the technical sense, he is not a pathological one. Aristotle would have seen him as entirely normal — a man driven by rage that the world does not see things his way. For Aristotle, a man becomes angry because of what has been, or will be, done to him. According to Aristotle, Trump’s current feelings would be that he has been belittled and humiliated in an election in which he was by far Joe Biden’s superior. The consequence of that, as Aristotle says, is anger: anger that Biden — whom Trump sees as e.g. ‘inferior, of

Douglas Murray

Donald Trump won’t leave me alone

Ever since I saw him in Pensacola, Florida the other week, Donald J. Trump will not leave me alone. Each morning I wake up, turn on my phone and find more messages sent overnight. On just one morning this week I rolled over to find emails from him titled ‘Chaos’, ‘Rigged’ and ‘We’re gaining momentum.’ Another said ‘The left hates you, Douglas.’ He doesn’t know the half of it. Clearly my email address has been shared. Because in just one morning I also got emails from Mike Pence (‘We’re closer than ever’), Eric Trump and bewilderingly — for I cannot see what fresh constituency she brings — Eric’s wife, Lara.

Portrait of the week: Vaccine hopes up, Zoom shares down and Biden calls Boris

Home Pfizer and BioNTech announced a vaccine against Covid-19 of 90 per cent efficacy from two injections three weeks apart. It was not known if it prevented transmission of the virus. The vaccine has to be stored at an ultra-low temperature of minus 80˚C. In July, the British government had bought 40 million doses, enough for a third of the population, with ten million available by the end of the year (along with access to five other vaccine candidates, totalling 340 million doses in all). The army and police planned vaccination centres. Shares in air transport went up; shares in Zoom went down. Asked whether we could say with confidence

Rome’s collegiate system was more logical than America’s

So Humpty Trumpty has had his great fall. But how democratic or logical was his election in the first place since, thanks to the USA’s ‘collegiate’ system, he became POTUS even though he lost by three million votes? Romans, too, used an undemocratic collegiate system for appointing their consuls, but at least there was a certain logic to it. The logic arose from the Roman ‘class’ system. This defined both how much tax you paid, and in which ‘college’ you were placed for voting purposes. To these ends, regular property censuses divided citizens into seven bands by wealth. The top band (equites) consisted of the richest in society, from which

Lionel Shriver

What the three types of Trump supporter really want

As Democrats’ colossal collective sigh of relief drives wind turbines even over in Britain, let’s not lose sight of the big story. However welcome, Joe Biden’s win was supposedly a dead cert. Even conservative commentators like Andrew Sullivan were hoping for a landslide. The real big story is that Donald Trump came within about 73,000 votes of winning the Electoral College. Democrats have celebrated the fact that their man got more votes than any other presidential candidate in history. But who got the second largest number of votes in history? Donald Trump. Of all people. And a 75 million vs 71 million popular vote gap is hardly yawning. Had a

Trump may have lost, but his agenda is here to stay

Donald Trump is now showing exactly why he had to be defeated. Well after the votes have been counted, with no evidence of anything but the usual minor glitches — none of which is sufficient to dent Joe Biden’s margin of victory — the President of the United States is doing what he did for four years: sabotaging American democracy because of his pathological narcissism. Trump remains what he has long been — a purely destructive force, a vandaliser, not a builder. But Trumpism? It did far better than anyone expected. The polls were off — again — missing Republican strength. Down-ballot, many Republicans seriously outperformed their nominal leader. During

Rod Liddle

Voters have lost their nerve

Elections teach us nothing. Instead, each tribe dredges succour from the minutiae, proving that they had been right all along. The moderate left — here and in the US — insists that tacking to the centre is the way to beat a populist right-winger, despite the fact that Joe Biden won by the skin of his teeth, through the votes of people who couldn’t be arsed to go to the polls on polling day and against a candidate of whom the most charitable description would be ‘fundamentally deranged’. The woke far left, meanwhile, argues the reverse, implying that the tightness of the vote was down to a lack of progressive

Portrait of the week: England’s lockdown, America’s meltdown and houses fall down

Home The government imposed a lockdown on England to last until 2 December. On television, Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, looking unhappy, said of Christmas: ‘It’s my sincere hope and belief that by taking tough action now we can allow families across the country to be together.’ People would have to stay at home except for work that couldn’t be done there. The furlough scheme, due to have expired at the end of October, was extended for the new lockdown period. Exercise and recreation outdoors were allowed. Households might not mix indoors or even meet one person in a private garden. Schools and universities were to stay open. Non-essential shops

Douglas Murray

The cameras miss what’s really happening in Washington

Washington, DC On election day in the capital there is no thrill in the air, but there is a sound: that of hardboard being placed over all of Washington’s windows. Wherever you go in the centre of town, the area is either boarded up or in the process of being so. I enjoy my sausage and eggs on a sidewalk to the accompaniment of the last windows being drilled. ‘Was everything all right?’ my waitress enquires. ‘Delicious,’ I tell her. ‘If the city is still here tomorrow, I’ll be back.’ DC feels as if it is preparing for a natural disaster, not an election result. Like all other major cities

Freddy Gray

Trumpism hasn’t been defeated

It’s all over, bar the litigation. Without some mind-blowing legal reversal in the coming days, Joe Biden will be the 46th president of the United States of America. Donald Trump must be extracted from the White House in the coming weeks, though if he is unwilling to leave nobody is quite sure how he’ll be removed. Trump believes the election has been stolen from him — so do many of the 70 million Americans who voted for him. Trust is a vanishingly rare commodity in American democracy. But Trump started crying foul weeks, even months ago. ‘This is a fraud on the American public,’ he declared in the early hours

A Biden victory would be no great boon for Britain

It is remarkably uncommon for a US president to fail to be re-elected. It has happened just twice in the long lifetime of Joe Biden: with Jimmy Carter in 1980 and George H.W. Bush in 1992. On Tuesday, however, it looks likely that it will happen again. It is not just that Donald Trump is trailing badly and consistently in the national polls — he was behind in 2016 but won nonetheless — it is that his support seems to be draining most in his own heartlands. Biden appears to be well ahead in industrial ‘rustbelt’ states like Michigan and Wisconsin where Trump’s protectionist message gave him victory four years

Michael Cohen: ‘I lied for Trump, but that doesn’t make me a liar’

When I met Michael Cohen in New York two years ago, he was a man visibly crushed by what life had done to him. His whole face sagged: he could have defined the word ‘hangdog’, a beagle caught peeing on the Persian rug. We stood outside his apartment building, which was Trump Park Avenue, Trump’s name bearing down on Cohen’s head in gold letters three feet high. We’d already had a long lunch and I was trying to say goodbye but as he spoke about one injustice or humiliation he remembered another, a torrent of self-pity. Everyone had treated Donald Trump’s former lawyer and fixer unfairly: the Feds, Congress, the

Lionel Shriver

I’m voting to make America boring again

I just spent £2.50 in postage to bring about one of the last things I want. Specifically, the next-to-last thing I want. If the polls are right (and how should I know?), my absentee ballot will help leave Trump behind as a one-term historical aberration and install as US president an elderly Democratic lifer whose cognitive capacities remain uncertain. Many an ambivalent Biden voter will share my concerns about victory: Covid. Who is that masked man? Biden often flaunts his face coverings even when nowhere near another human being, while his party has embraced the mask as a badge of nobility, righteousness and partisan unity. Obliging computer modellers now posit

Douglas Murray

Trump’s humour is his weakness – and his strength

Earlier this summer left-wing activists announced a ‘semi-autonomous zone’ in the Capitol Hill area of Seattle. Denuded of law enforcement and any other signs of the American state, these activists deluded themselves that they were creating a blueprint for the perfect society. After a number of wholly predictable murders and rather more rapes, the state retook control. The area where the state formerly known as CHAZ briefly stood is now just another homeless encampment, overlooked by empty luxury apartments. Local businesses are suing the city for failing to protect them. All still have ‘Don’t hurt me’ signs in the windows. One, a hairdresser, stresses that it is ‘a minority-owned, women-led,

Veeps shall inherit the earth

‘Who am I? Why am I here?’ That was how Vice Admiral James Stockdale began the 1992 televised vice-presidential debate. It’s now regarded as a famous gaffe, yet Stockdale’s questions reflect the way most viewers feel about ‘veep’ debates. Who are these people? Why am I watching? Four years ago, 37 million Americans tuned in to watch now Vice President Mike Pence argue with Senator Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton’s running mate. Even the most ardent followers of American politics would struggle to remember a single phrase. Last night felt different. It’s hard to claim that Pence, the Vice President, vs Kamala Harris, the running mate of former vice president Joe

American meltdown: a democratic disaster

Tuesday night’s debate between President Donald Trump and Joe Biden was a hopeless mess — a national embarrassment. For 90 minutes, two cantankerous and incoherent old men ignored the rules, shouted over each other and ruined the event. Trump insulted Biden’s intelligence and his children. Biden told Trump to ‘shut up’ and called him ‘a clown’. The debate may prove useful in one sense, however — as a foretaste of the democratic meltdown that is coming America’s way after the election on 3 November. Again, the rules of the contest will not be accepted, each side will accuse the other of cheating and the whole occasion will turn into a