US elections blog: 'Uncle' Joe is a steady hand America can trust

A combative Trump is not helping matters by sticking to his guns and falsely claiming that the election has been stolen from him.

By Allan Jacob, Suresh Pattali, Sreenivasa Reddy and Anamika Chatterjee

Published: Sun 8 Nov 2020, 7:43 AM

10.15pm - 'Uncle' Joe is a steady hand America can trust

(By Allan Jacob)

The American voter has shown who is the boss. They have fired Donald J. Trump and hired Joseph R. Biden through the power of the ballot. And talking about power, this is about political and personal power than can unite or divide a nation as the media would like us to believe.

Trump was seen as a polarising figure among Democrats, and the president's unpredictability was seen as inimical to diverse America's interests. The 45th president's was a disruptive force that was both his strength and weakness. He was abrasive and arrogant, and said it like it is. Biden, on the other hand, is seen as an experienced hand.

Incidentally, 48 years ago, on November 7, he won his first election against the odds. Today, he has made it to the highest office in the land, again against the odds. He met with tragedy after his first electoral success back then when he lost his wife and daughter in a road accident.

Joe was sworn-in in hospital as his sons Hunter and Beau recovered from their injuries 48 years ago. He knows what it feels to be alone, he feels pain, he feels about you and me. He has been through it all. He is 'uncle' Joe. He cares.

Biden does not claim to be elitist. Just like he picked up the pieces after that personal tragedy shattered his life 48 years ago, America expects him to steady the social ship in the country. There's only so much disruption the world's oldest democracy can take from Trump. By voting Biden and Kamaa Harris, it has chosen stability over strife.

And Biden, by promising to be president for all Americans, has made a good start. His working class credentials will hold him in good stead. He will lead with a calm; he will change without disrupting. We wish him the very best.

While Republicans harp on conspiracy theories and believe the election had been stolen from their president, Joe Biden is forging ahead. The GOP narrative has been that Democrat- ruled states should only count legal votes.

They falsely claim that dead people are voting for Biden via mail ballots without offering evidence of any illegality. Trump plans to take the vote count to court, which could fall flat without sufficient proof. This has been a fair, albeit slow election process. The wait for a result has been long, and it's time to get it over with. As the race is close, voting officials in battleground states like Arizona, Pennsylvania and Georgia are taking no chances. The closer the result, the higher the chances of a recount or a legal battle, which could spill to the streets.

A combative Trump is not helping matters by sticking to his guns and falsely claiming that the election has been stolen from him.

Biden looks more solid in this scenario where conspiracies abound. A cool head and patience will see him through this crisis. Trump will provoke and could get some extremist elements on the streets, but Biden should keep the faith in the electoral process and ask his party men and women to refrain from resorting to any form of violence.

He who dares shall not win this election; it is he who cares who will be the first past the finish line.

9:52 am-Biden on a mission to heal America

(By Suresh Pattali)

After a 10-hour wait, Joe Biden has spoken his mind with Kamala Harris by his side. He is not the winner yet, but what he delivered for seven plus minutes sounded like a victory speech. With significant leads in four states, I would believe he has the right to feel like a president-elect. His demeanour was right. His emotions were genuine. Vocabulary was cherry-picked, though he appeared to stumble over words a couple of times.

There's a sense of urgency as he said he has set things in motion by meeting public health and economic experts. "We don't have any more time to waste," he explained.

Speaking from the Democratic headquarters at Chase Center, Delaware, Biden was a far cry from the monologues of condescension and arrogance we had been used to in the last four years. His speech was tethered to the importance of unity in the face of many ills the nation is facing. "The purpose of our politics isn't to wage a total and unrelenting war. It's to solve problems. We may be opponents, but we're not enemies. We're Americans," he reminded.

On a day America witnessed a record 120,000 new cases of the new coronavirus, pain was manifest in his words about the lives and fortunes lost to the pandemic. "We can't save any of the lives that have been lost, but we can save a lot of lives in the months ahead," he said.

Should I say, "Thank you, Mr President-elect"?


Trump should be gracious in defeat

(By Suresh Pattali)

Having taken the lead in Pennsylvania and Georgia and widening the margin in Arizona and Nevada, Joe Biden is on the verge of presidency. And Trump is on the brink of losing to someone he humiliated as “the worst candidate in history”. Biden is expected to consolidate his lead in the coming hours as the remaining ballots to be counted are from populated cities like Atlanta, Las Vegas and Carson City where Democrats hold sway. So far so good for democracy.

But who wins is not the issue that has been battering me since Election Night. Sitting pretty in the White House — which will be “for-biden” in a couple of months — the incumbent president tarnishes the reputation of the world’s second-largest democracy he is presiding over.

As the Red on the US political map flips Blue in a painfully slow counting process, Trump accuses his rivals of stealing victory. He dubs the entire American system connected to the polling process corrupt. He had four years at his disposal to set things right. Some of the battleground states he accuses of fraud are controlled by his own Republican Party.

Are the Americans as bad as their president makes them out to be? We know they are not. Is the American system as inefficient as its administrator projects to the world?

We know it’s not. Why is he in a hurry to tarnish the reputation of Americana? What’s wrong, President Trump? Could it be post-Covid complications? Why can’t you be gracious in defeat? “What a guy!” your fans once exclaimed. “What a disgrace!” is how I wonder.


Trump may lose, but Trumpism will stay

(By Allan Jacob)

A party of the president or president of the party? The Republican Party faithful have fallen in line as Trumpism became a winning formula in four years, just like Reaganism in the eighties which transformed a stale party that was struggling to stay relevant. While Reaganism was subdued and effective, Trumpism is in your face. It's brash and aggressive, unafraid to offend friend and foe alike. Donald Trump, who until four years ago was seen as an outsider in the Grand Old Party, is the party itself. He is the face, it's redeemer. Today, he is the party mascot because he is seen as the only winning candidate though he may lose this election, and party faithful will do his bidding. The Trump family will also do as they please. The sons, Donald Jr and Eric, with sister Ivanka and husband Jared Kushner have made it a party of the family. This is a now a party that puts the Trump clan first and the family believes they have a right to rule America for another four years when the voters have different ideas and may have given a slender majority to Joseph Biden. Eric and Donald have railed against the Republican faithful for not supporting their father enough in this election, which appears like a last ditch effort to shore up support for a lost cause. What this election has proven is the nation is above the family or the party, but Trumpism will still remain a force in the four years of Biden once this electoral mess is cleared.

Friday, 10:30am

A sore loser and election fatigue

(By Allan Jacob)

A disputed election takes the fun out of the contest. This election has been one of the closest ever in recent memory. There was no blue wave for Joe Biden as the pollsters had predicted.

The voters had other plans. Both Trump and Biden fought hard on their turfs and gave it their all. Swing states have come into play and Biden could pip his rival to the post. But the Democratic camp cannot claim a moral victory and the media and pundits got it all wrong. They are the biggest losers of this election and Trump has got his revenge even in what looks like a defeat - a last hurrah of sorts for the president.

Battleground states are touch and go and the long delays in counting ballots is giving a chance to the incumbent to raise allegations of foul play. The president's critics got this right about this scenario in a close election.

Civil unrest was a possibility, they said and the president is stoking the fires. Incidents of violence have been reported from some parts of the country. These fires should not be allowed to spread and right-thinking Americans (not of the ideological kind) must come together to prevent a full blown crisis. Election fatigue has set in and sore losers only prolong the agony. Is the president listening?

10.35pm - America staring at a constitutional crisis

(By Sreenivasa Reddy)

It looks almost certain that the suspense over the US election result may not be over today. In Pennsylvania where Trump’s lead is narrowing, a series of lawsuits have been filed and some orders have been obtained for stopping the count in certain counties. So the result here will drag on. According to Reuters/Edison, Trump's lead has plummeted to 115,000 from over 600,000 on Wednesday morning after 92 per cent of count.

In Nevada, hopes are receding for Trump as Biden expanded his lead from over 7,000 to 11,000 after 84 per cent votes were counted.

In North Carolina, Trump is in a comfortable position with over 79,000 lead after 95 per cent count.

In Georgia, Trump has a lead of 14,000 after 98 per cent count. It remains to be seen if he will retain his lead after the remaining 2 per cent of votes are counted. In Arizona, the counting has been postponed to Friday with Biden enjoying over 68,000 lead after 86 per cent of votes were counted.

Unless the results in all these five states are conclusively resolved, there is no way of knowing who will be the next president of the United States. And that is not going to happen anytime soon. Lawsuits and street protests will only prolong the agony and may spark a constitutional crisis in the world’s oldest democracy.

At the moment, both Biden and Trump enjoy paths to victory, though the latter’s chances are dimming.

7.35pm - The winner will take all by a whisker

(By Allan Jacob)

It's not over yet. 48 hours after polling ended, the US electoral system is struggling to throw up a winner. Blame it on excessive federalism where the states take charge of the counting of ballots. Slow and steady does it but people are losing it. Some are on the streets. States have their independent systems in place and the process is decentralised, which only makes it complicated in a contest such as this that is on a knife-edge.

The counting of votes is a nuts and bolts operation which makes the wait for a winner excruciatingly long and stressful for voters and the world. People are glued to their screens. Results from Nevada, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Georgia are awaited. Every vote counts amidst claims of voter fraud that have been raised by the president.

There have been calls for recounts too. The longer the counting, the higher the suspicions in both camps. And the closer the race gets, the more it is in danger of being wrecked by the candidates who could question the system itself.

Both Joe Biden and Donald Trump are hanging on for they know it's not over yet. Conceding the race appears out of the question. It's a winner takes all by a whisker approach which is raising tension. We only hope it doesn't get out of hand on the streets. All bets are off in the race.

3.22pm - How Trump can still win this election

(By Sreenivasa Reddy)

As I said on Wednesday, all hope is not lost for Trump. There is still a narrow window open for the incumbent president to wrest victory.

It will depend on which way Arizona and Nevada will go. In the traditional Republican stronghold of Arizona, Joe Biden's performance surprised everyone. Apparently, recently-migrated Latinos tilted the scales in his favour. According to CNN, only 86 per cent of votes have been counted. Biden at the moment has a margin of nearly 70,000 votes. Technically, there is a possibility for Trump to undo this small lead. Most of the news networks have already put Arizona's 11 votes in Biden's account. That is why there is variation in final tallies. But there is some hope for Trump here.

In Nevada, Biden enjoys a small margin of 7,000 votes. This can change once the counting commences later in the evening. The six votes of this small state will see Trump through if he retains his present leads in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Georgia. So we are headed for another evening of suspense. This could be one of the closest US elections ever.

Thursday, 11:30am - Trump should read the writing on the wall

(By Allan Jacob)

The tide is turning in the US election in favour of Joe Biden. President Donald Trump should accept the verdict after all votes are tallied and avoid a legal battle which will only plunge America into more uncertainty. The world still needs America's moral leadership. Chaos in its democratic process will do much damage to the global order, more so during the pandemic. Good leaders know when it's time to step down. Trump has had his successes and failures during his stint in the White House. He may have received more flak than plaudits for his style of functioning as president. The media hounded him and he responded on social media. He gave as good as he got. It may be time to move on, gracefully.

Wednesday, 10.27pm - Trump or Biden, who will blink first?

(By Allan Jacob)

Two old faithfuls slugging it out for the presidency. Both seniors gave it their all. Well done, both. One of them must now concede and bow out with grace. It's time to throw in the towel which is the honourable thing to do. It's been a long wait for the results and these elections must not be fought on the streets or in courts as it would inflict damage on the voters' psyche. Joseph R. Biden and Donald J. Trump have been worthy foes and their voters deserve better than a political and legal slugfest. The pollsters got it wrong in the first place, and the gullible fell for their wares. Now the two presidential foes and their supporters must confront the reality about victory and defeat. Some swings states are leaning towards Biden, and that should give him confidence against the President. However, all's not lost for Trump, but who will blink first is the question? A street battle is not what the voters want; they want victory through the ballot, and the two contenders shoulder a great responsibility and should prevent a long-drawn legal battle that would lead to a loss of confidence in the electoral process and democracy.

7.27pm - Donald Trump prevails against the media

(By Anamika Chatterjee)

A magazine cover with a tattered American flag and a headline screaming, ‘Why it has to be Joe Biden’. Editorial after editorial running in mainstream newspapers enumerating the dangers of Trump 2.0. Multiple cartoons and jokes caricaturing the POTUS. The liberal media came out to state, in no uncertain, terms how another Trump presidency could damage the foundational values of America. And yet, here we stand, with the POTUS and Joe Biden going almost neck-to-neck in the most hotly debated, aggressively contested elections in American history. We do not know how the finale will shape up. But as we watch all the twists and turns unfold, it gives the media an opportunity to introspect and understand if we always have our ear to the ground. Largely, they do. From exposes on his financial disclosure to his routine undermining of important institutions in the country, the media had done its job well in closely scrutinising and questioning the ethical positions of POTUS. But did it really read the voters’ mind? Did it really understand why the Trumpian rhetoric resonates despite its obvious intellectual and argumentative flaws? With the largest turnout of the electorate ever in the United States, a closely contested election like this one proves the voter is not always as angular in his or her thinking as we imagine them to be. Do we always read the mind of this voter? If the pattern of voting is anything to go by, then maybe not. Irrespective of the outcome, the media may have done well in speaking truth to power, but the ground realities will always take them by surprise.

12.55pm - Going head(line) to head(line) with Trump

(By Suresh Pattali)

In 2016, headlines in extra bold were ready in newsrooms even before Election Day. Editors across the world were excited because America was on the verge of creating history by electing the first woman president. Millions of women across the world were glued to the television to see the glass ceiling crumble down. It never happened despite Hillary winning the popular vote. American newspapers scrambled to change their headlines on premade templates. There are some lying on my desktop too: IT’S HILLARY, PRESIDENT HILARY, HILLARY MAKES HISTORY. Fast forward to 2020, no one took a chance because we realised THIS MAN is unpredictable. So what’s the headline tonight, guys? OOPS! I DID IT AGAIN?

12.01pm: Trump's nightmare scenario

(By Allan Jacob)

The president jumping in to claim victory is the nightmare scenario that many experts had warned about. Now that it has happened, all eyes will be on the Biden camp and the Supreme Court.

The vote count must be allowed to continue and the SC should let the process come to its logical end. The voters should determine the winner of this election and not a president who is impatient to keep his post even before the votes are counted.

11: 50am: Trump claims victory, wants court to stop vote counts

(By Allan Jacob)

US President Donald Trump has turned the election on its head as some had feared. The battle could now spill into the streets and in the US Supreme Court. He has claimed victory and alleged fraud in the electoral process, seriously allegation in the world's most powerful democracy. And it's coming from a sitting president who is still in a tight race. It might not end well for America if the Supreme Court stops the vote count as sought by Trump. Such an act could plunge the country into a constitutional crisis that would take a long time to resolve.

10:38am - This race is down to the wire and last vote

(By Sreenivasa Reddy)

What has been feared has come true. The election is too close to call and will go down to the wire. The much trumpeted Biden wave has not happened. Democrats are winning in most of the traditional strongholds. So are Republicans. Not much of a surprise there. But in key nine swing states, TV reports say Trump is leading in seven of them. This should give hope to Trump camp. Winning a state like Pennsylvania is a big thing. At present with 97 per cent votes counted in the key state, Trump is clearly ahead of Biden. In Florida, Michigan and Wisconsin too, Trump seems to be doing well. Let us hope we do not have to wait for the count of last of postal votes for the results to emerge. At the moment all hope is not lost for Trump.

10am - Joe Biden's bravado could fuel tensions in close race

(By Allan Jacob)

Joe Biden did not concede when he should have done it to spare America the pain of what could be an agonising wait for final results. He still believes he is on track to win the election though the numbers are not in his favour and Trump could have an advantage in the swing states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan. Keep the faith, he said. Sounded more like bravado than a victory speech or a even concession. A bullish-sounding Biden gave a lot away and appeared to be bracing for a fight if the race does indeed go to the wire. Battleground state votes could be delayed into Thursday and tensions could flare on the streets. It's important to see the writing on the wall to prevent a violent fallout. There are winners and losers but Joe should spare us the fake bravado. Worse, he sounds more like Trump.

6:45 am- America's vote for a peaceful presidency

(By Allan Jacob)

Early leads could be misleading in an election that is set to go down to the wire. Every state matters, each vote counts. The swing states could determine the fate of Donald Trump and Joe Biden. The Rust Belt should also be watched closely with Biden appealing to White working class voters. Trump has much to lose in the southern states. If he holds them together, he has a clearer shot at victory. However, the worry for Trump should White working class voters who may have switched to the Democratic camp. The positive takeaway from the polling was that there was no violence which many experts had predicted. America was on its best behaviour on polling day. We hope it remains the same when the results are announced.

The pandemic may have turned the tables this election, but it seems FLOTUS Melania Trump is yet to come to terms with the new normal.

In October, she had contracted Covid-19. So imagine the shock she must have inspired when she walked down the Morton and Barbara Mandel Recreation Centre in Palm Beach County, Florida, to cast her vote without wearing a mask.

While there weren’t any voters around the time Melania visiting the polling booth, her aides and other security staff were wearing masks.

The five minutes spent entering and exiting the premises, the FLOTUS greeted journalists and assured them she was feeling alright. The pandemic has, so far, already claimed more than 230,000 lives, and the total number of cases is close to 9.5 million. As the country reels under the devastation of the pandemic, the sight of a maskless Melania is one of the many reminders of how the healthcare situation has been undermined.

11:37pm- Joe Biden, the insider, fancies his chances

(By Allan Jacob)

It's hard to imagine what a Biden presidency would be like with Kamala Harris as his vice-president. Joe, if one could call him that, is an insider, who's remained No. 2 for most of his political life.

His best shot at the presidency was in 2016, but the Democratic know-it-alls plumped for Hillary Clinton, who shockingly lost the election to Donald Trump. Some may say Biden is over the hill at 78. Trump , who considers himself a macho man at 74, calls the former Veep 'Sleepy Joe'.

How much of the presidency would Biden control if he makes it to the White House? He is an experienced hand but he's not what young America would want. But they didn't have a choice, did they? If the Republicans are a party of old-White Conservative faithfuls led by an outsider to D.C, the Democrats have an insider who's seen it all in politics, except the top prize. This could be chance if voters have their say through the ballot.

His leads may be encouraging, but Hillary's loss four years ago is also playing on minds. Biden could steady America's social ship that is sailing in choppy waters if Trump doesn't kick up a storm if he loses. But then, Trump has to be vanguished to prevent him from sinking Biden's ship.

9:02pm-Will Trump exit the scene quietly?

(By Sreenivasa Reddy)

The world is waiting with bated breath as Americans line up to choose the next president. Most probably, all of us in the UAE will wake up to news about the new president of the US tomorrow morning, unless it is a very close contest in battleground states. If Trump wins, it will be more of the same.

We will have entertainment aplenty. No shortage of headlines. But if he exits the scene, Biden will usher in an old style, cool but hard-headed diplomacy. No scope for entertainment and sensationalism. We have to read between the lines for the headlines. But will Trump exit the scene quietly, without a fight? I doubt he will. He has given enough indications. He once said he cannot think of living in a country ruled by Biden and talked of leaving the country for good.

Will right-wing white militias — about whom we are hearing a lot — create some nuisance? Will there be a law and order problem? We have to wait and see.

7:34pm: Why the shadow of Trump presidency will not be erased easily

(By Anamika Chatterjee)

When 100 million people come out to vote, you know it is change they seek. One of the most hotly contested elections in American history, 2020 will have important lessons for whoever takes the mantle hereon.

In the four years of Trump presidency, the very idea of America stood tweaked. From leading the global order, it began looking inwards in an endeavour to make the country “great again”. It also spiralled a process of othering those who affected the prospects of the American people. Western liberalism was deemed ineffectual for the modern age. From Twitter outbursts to dismissing the pandemic as hoax to the mystery revolving around his financial disclosure, the four years have also seemed like one long season of The Apprentice.

Whoever takes the mantle from Mr Trump, either now or a few years later, will be tasked with undoing the spectacle that the POTUS has consciously and unconsciously provided to the world. The challenge will not simply be to reclaim the role it once played in global polity, but to reassess why liberal values could be so easily undermined during the Trump years. It will not simply be about action, but also introspection.

5:14pm- Tiny virus is Trump's bigger foe

(By Allan Jacob)

How did the US come to this, one wonders. A nation that cannot see eye to eye. Our correspondent in the US mentioned the mood was gloomy. There's suspicion all around. Much as one would like to call President Trump unpredictable and polarising, he has played to his strengths as a businessman-politician making deals.

He was on top of things on the economic front till the pandemic struck. He saw the warning signs but didn't prepare America for it. That should rank as his biggest failure. In January, Trump would have run away with the election. Today, his bigger foe is in fact a tiny pathogen and not Joe Biden.

The administration's inability to check the spread of the coronavirus could prove to be the diference between victory and defeat.

3:20pm-Trust the American voter

(By Allan Jacob)

The polls have predicted their winner - Joseph Biden Jr. But Donald J. Trump will not go down without a fight. He's combative and out to prove the pollsters wrong and get even with what he calls the fake media.

Agenda-driven journalism has widened the divide in America when the country needed healing. The media is also partly to blame with many becoming mouthpieces of the Democrats or the Republicans and their donors.

This election, if a victor doesn't emerge, by a landslide, will sink into a a deeper ideological war that could eat into a vitals of its American society. The American voter is smart and is sure of what he or she wants. They think on they feet and have made up their minds. May the best man win.

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