After more than four days of counting around 160 million votes it transpires that (subject to legal challenges) Joe Biden will become the 46th President of the United States early next year.
The 2020 American Presidential Election and its outcome has caused bemusement and fascination around the world as two men in their 70s wrestled for the right to lead the United States for the next four-year term.
The battle for the presidency has contained enough elements and emotional drama sufficient to produce a raft of blockbuster cliff-hanger films, television shows and, of course, scores of scathing satires.
In addition, the book publishing industry is licking its chops in anticipation of a flood of tales (true and false) from those who have participated in the now-historic contest between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden.
The live, hour-by-hour progress of the post-election period had not only had Americans glued to their television screens, other than those thousands of activist supporters furiously waving banners and shouting slogans outside tally rooms demanding that the vote counting continue or calling for its abandonment because of wholesale “electoral fraud”, but many Australians and millions of inhabitants of other nations have also been spellbound by the particular and peculiar events which have characterised the quest for the magic number of 270 Electoral College voters necessary for a presidential candidate to win the election.
By Sunday it had become plain that Mr Biden had the necessary votes for victory.
It is also clear that interested and informed people and professional political observers in America and here have been dumbfounded that Mr Trump quickly abandoned the traditional presidential gravitas due on such occasions as he and his team realised that victory may not be probable – or even likely.
Mr Trump’s petulant post-election performances stunned most observers although his millions of supporters took his wild and false claims of widespread voter fraud (commissioned, he suggested, by the treacherous Democrat machine) as objective truth.
The claims were, of course, an unreasonable call likely to deepen the divisions in the population of the United States.
It has been fortunate, indeed, that Mr Trump’s inflammatory claims about “illegal votes” did not bring gunfire and destruction to American streets.
The juvenile response by Mr Trump to his failure to sweep to electoral triumph has not been a one-off.
The last four years of his leadership style demonstrated the presence of a narcissistic personality disorder, according to a number of observers.
He often presented as a man who seemed incapable of introspection. The lack of self-doubt indicated a degree of self-important arrogance which was often based on deep-seated ignorance of international affairs, American history, coupled with a presumption that his will and his view were superior to any other.
He once described himself as a “stable genius”.
However, his exploitative behaviour, need for attention and admiration, and preoccupation with power was not matched by expressions of genuine empathy or sensitivity when others faced tragedy and hardship as evidenced by his demands for tougher border controls and the harsh exclusion of migrants or refugees.
Those who opposed him and his political view were often ridiculed or demonised in harsh terms by Mr Trump or his like-minded White House spokespeople.
In the end it seems that Mr Trump’s uncompromising views on many issues; the environment, global warming concerns, civil rights, international trade and alliances, and, of course, the nature and extent of the COVID-19 threat that galvanised an apparently new, previously silent section of the American population who had rarely or never before thought their vote was worth anything.
However, on this occasion millions of them directed their support to Mr Biden.
There was a record voter turnout.
At these elections, millions of remotivated people turned out to register their votes early and dispatch them by mail.
The results show these numbers were in excess of the Trump ‘core voters’ of the 2016 election.
What a Biden administration means for America and the world remains to be seen.
The U.S. Senate is likely to remain under the thumb of Trumpian-style Republicans, meaning that any legislative changes sought by Mr Biden may be problematic.
However, in many other areas – such as foreign policy and trade – there is likely to be a more even-handed and co-operative outlook rather than an ‘America-First’ view.
Domestically, the American mood may also be changing.
Few will quibble about the economic and material successes of the U.S.
But, the nation has long been energised by a frontier philosophy that idealises individualism and rewards personal effort rather than honouring the first words of the U.S. Constitution – “We the People….”
Matters of social equity have tended to reflect a Christian sense of charitable obligation and duty by individuals more than as a matter of political policy.
Whereas many other democratic nations around the globe have evolved societal cultures to be more reflective of modern ideals of rights and responsibilities, the United States retains a legacy of inequity, including flawed national provision for public health responses, health care insurance, education and welfare.
The meaning of ‘We’ is more reflective, perhaps, in the expectations and provisions of social and human rights in countries such as ours.
Australia is by no means an exemplar, but neither is it a ‘socialist paradise’ so reviled by Mr Trump.
We too encourage and reward individual aspiration and achievement but perhaps we are doing better at remembering that ‘We’ means societies have a responsibility to all its members.
President-elect Biden has already indicated he is keen to offer a more cautious and inclusive approach to heal America’s political divisiveness and to attend to glaring shortcomings in social equity in that country.
This is what the record turn-out of Democratic Party supporters has called for.
One U.S. cartoonist showed an image of a sad, sagging Statue of Liberty during the spiteful campaign.
It would be wonderful for that image to be restored as an admired symbol of freedom, pride and welcoming opportunity that America has long offered the world.To order photos from this page click here