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Billy Bragg - 16 Nov 2020


I don’t think anyone should be surprised that Trump is refusing to admit defeat. The presidency is a narcissists nirvana – everywhere you go bands strike up, people salute as you pass by, the world takes your moods and foibles seriously, you have the ultimate say in matters that effect the lives of millions. You are the centre of attention 24/7.

But an ex-president? You have to graciously hand all that great stuff over to someone else – that bastard who has expelled you from office, no less! - and then you are expected to quietly vacate the world stage, your time in the limelight over. Folks may still refer to you as Mr President, but you’re the commander-in-chief no more, except to your dog.

And Trump doesn’t have a dog.

John Quincy Adams, who had held the office himself in the 1820s, observed that there is nothing in life more pathetic than an ex-president. And as the spotlight suddenly shifts to Joe Biden, the effect on Trump’s ego will be shattering.

Whereas other holders of that great office might feel that it was their duty to ensure a smooth transition, the lack of responsibility that has been a hallmark of Trump's behaviour for decades won’t allow him to feel anything other than outrage at the prospect of no longer being the centre of the world’s attention.

So these next few weeks may see some pretty desperate stuff from the Donald. Nobody should be surprised if he refuses to turn up for the inauguration of the new president in January. Thereafter he will still newsworthy, but only in Trump Tower will bands play and people salute.

I found it hugely encouraging that so many Americans were motivated to vote against him and all he stood for. Joe Biden is not the most inspiring of candidates, but it appears people were able to see that there was something greater at stake here and so voted Trump out in record numbers.

By contrast, the fact that 72m voted for Trump, gives cause for concern. It is shocking that after four years of lies, divisiveness and kleptocracy, so many were looking for more of the same. But then Trump didn’t create his electorate. The toxic mixture of white grievance, middle class resentment and male insecurity that he embodies has long been a treacherous undercurrent of American society.

The challenge for Biden and Harris is to find a way to stem that tide, while faced with a Republican Party that, eyeing at the numbers who voted for Trump, may feel that stoking resentment is their best path to power.



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