Seventy million votes is no proof of Trump’s popularity and neither any evidence for his return to the political arena.
Overwhelming political apathy is not a unique hallmark of US politics but it can confidently be argued that comparing to other democratic developed nations, the country, distinctively suffers from its damaging impact on the system. Centuries of economic and political comfort has greatly contributed to this social ill which has voluntarily disenfranchised the society to the level that the US has one of the largest number of citizens who do not participate in national and state elections.
Decades ago, as a young boy, having just arrived in the US to study politics and social sciences from a Third World country suffering from dictatorship and war, I daydreamed that one of my first criteria for choosing a partner must be that she would be politically minded. It took me about a decade living on both coasts of America to realise that such woman, to the level of involvement I wanted, hardly existed, simply because US citizens did not suffer the same political and social repression that a Third World citizen like me would take for granted. The girls in America, to put it plainly, did not have to be politically minded to be considered normal!
Record breaking participation of all walks of life in the 2020 US election must be admired and celebrated but I dare to argue that it was partly caused by the nation walking closer towards the style of governing in the country of the origin of the young romantic boy from Iran.
On one hand, the assault of Donald Trump, his cabinet, his family, his appointees and to some extent his entire Republican Party on democratic institutions, the system of checks and balances and the independence of the three branches of the government in the country has woken up and energised millions of politically apathetic Americans whom up to a few years ago did not find it necessary to participate in politics and cast ballots to protect their democracy. These new or rather awakened voters rushed to support the Democratic nominee.
On the other hand, the unashamedly racist, sexist, pro-gun, anti-choice, evangelical and more, rhetoric and actions of Trump has awaken a large number of extreme right white-supremacists who have suddenly found themselves in the position of legitimacy in a civilized democratic nation.
Considering that the majority of non-apathetic, polarised Americans would vote for their party’s candidate regardless of who he or she is, including Mussolini and Mother Teresa which forms the majority of the votes, we should really analyse only the extra votes to conclude the true popularity of a candidate.
Statistically, there has always been, unproportionately, more apathy amongst the white non-college educated men on the “right” rather than the mixed race liberal college educated citizens on the “left” in the United States which explains why the recent circumstances has awaken more support and more participation from the right in the last election.
No, the seventy million votes for Trump, are not entirely for Trump, they are in big proportion just for the right and Trump happened to be there. He is only responsible for bringing out the worst and awakening the darkest sentiments of the traditionally apathetic and dormant Americans who had been delegitimize and defused by centuries of struggle for liberty, equality and justice. Fortunately their surge was not enough to overturn the course of our progressive history.
The last election did not show that Trump is popular and he will come back. Similar to all dictators he has too much exposed criminal baggage to be able to resurface politically. Our job now is to help heal the wounds he caused to our society.