Comment Writer Kate Mckie discusses Trump’s election night speech, arguing that its repercussions for both US and UK politics are severe and disheartening
It struck me whilst watching coverage of the US election that satire appertaining to Trump is not so far-fetched as one might hope. This realisation culminated while watching the President’s speech made in the White House press briefing room, in which he declared electoral victory: ‘we will win this and as far I’m concerned, we already have.’ I could only laugh in disbelief. This highlights the dangerous nature of his presidential style; Trump is a very caricature of himself. We must therefore be vigilant in acknowledging the severe repercussions caused by this address.
Whilst President Trump did not coin the term ‘fake news,’ his frequent use of the term to denounce those opposed to him is well known. If the opinion that the President brands anything he regards with dislike as fake news was contestable before, his claim of ‘a major fraud on our nation’ in response to Biden’s looming victory would appear to surmount this. The upshot? A recipe for revolt.
Like or loathe him, Trump has cemented loyal support amongst the US public. As we have already seen with the ‘Stop the Steal’ rally occurring in various states across the Nation, he has had no problem in recruiting civilians to fight this battle. For some of these ‘soldiers,’ anything Trump says is bible, for others scepticism of the system is a fully fledged and fight-worthy conviction in which this rally is simply the latest development. Coverage of a rally taking place in San Antonio reported: ‘If full of evangelistic fervor of what they claimed to know, they provided no proof.’
Whilst the widespread animosity between the sincerest Trump and Biden voters is seemingly rife, looking to the long term what other fall out is to come? Has Trump managed to single handedly deepen the democratic deficit of the US system? It is worrying that in his address, the President manages to treat his leadership as synonymous with the democratic system and by extension with ‘Americanness,’ demonstrated in his claim: ‘This is a fraud on the American public, this is an embarrassment to our country.’ As CNN reporter Abby Philip puts it: ‘He’s trying to take the rest of the country down with him, he’s trying to take the voting system down with him, he’s trying to take the democratic process down with him.’
I think my disbelief in the President’s spoof victory speech was further characterised by the stark differences between media coverage of US and UK politics. Specifically in the case of Trump, his delivery feels so foreign to what we are accustomed to. In this particular address, President Trump takes an eerily infant like tone, made more comical with his (false) declaration of victory in Georgia and North Carolina, in which he taunts: ‘They’re never gonna catch us, they can’t catch us,’ reminiscent of ‘The Gingerbread Man’ nursery rhyme.
But how different are the US and UK really? I do not know whether my internal monologue of ‘this could never happen in the UK,’ was more prayer than fact. In fact, Lisa Nandy, shadow foreign secretary has declared that ‘it is a mark of how far we have fallen that we cannot stand up on a day like this and say democracy should be respected,’ in response to Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab’s failure to condemn Trump. Sir Keir Starmer asserted that the Prime Minister should match him in his reckoning that ‘it’s not for a candidate to decide which votes do and don’t count or when to stop counting’ to which Johnson responded: ‘Of course, we don’t comment as a UK Government on the democratic processes of our friends and allies.’
Further to this, Nandy reminded us that ‘In the last few months Dominic Raab has spoken out very clearly about attempts to undermine democracy by China and Hong Kong, attempts by Russia to undermine democracy in Belarus.’ This is a very apt critique of Raab’s selective choosing of when it is appropriate to comment on other countries’ state of affairs. Indeed, The Prime Minister and Secretary of State’s refusal to condemn Trump’s claims, which are fundamentally at odds with the upkeep of democracy, makes the UK’s leadership look weak and pitiful. They are altogether too accommodating and willing to please the palm of the US in which we have been painted to reside.
The tension is set to remain high in the US. Lindsey Graham, a firm backer of Trump and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee is among those powerful individuals who have been involved in this undermining of the democratic process. He has claimed that the Democrats are ‘just tryna get an outcome damn the law, damn the process,’ whilst pledging $500,000 to aid Trump’s legal challenge to the Supreme Court. The US electorate, specifically Democrat voters, are likely feeling relatively powerless and undermined at this time, and understandably so.
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