The process of counting votes in Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and some other states, crucial for the outcome of the presidential elections, became the quintessence of not only the election campaign that has come to the final, but also the whole situation in which the United States is now. An incredibly intense race, repeated leader changes and candidates reaching the finish line with a minimal gap are an eloquent symbol of a country split in half.
Vermont Gov., Republican Phil Scott said he voted for the Democratic nominee. He justified his choice by the fact that Trump “had four years to unite this country, but he did not succeed.” However, the politician believes that Joe Biden is able to do this: “I think he can unite us,” he added.
The Vermont leader gave his country the same diagnosis – a split. The only thing one can be sure of is the futility of his hopes, regardless of the outcome of the elections. And the windows of super-democratic New York’s most luxurious Fifth Avenue shops, carefully boarded up with plywood to protect against rioters, serve as a guarantee.
It sounds absurd, but the events of recent years have revealed that the country, which has long served as a model of democracy for the world, is actually very sad about the ability to seek and find an internal socio-political consensus.
Rather, everything worked great while American society stood on the common ideas of the overwhelming majority of its members about what is proper, what is right and what is beautiful. A hundred years ago, the American Dream, with its “do-it-yourself” principle, capitalism and traditional values inspired not only the objectively privileged “white cisgender men”, but also the officially discriminated black population. Not to mention people from all over the world who were striving overseas in search of a better life.
The process of gradual departure from the age-old American principles towards liberalization has been going on for several decades – and in the image of the media and political mainstream, it even seemed relatively smooth. Everything was changed by Trump’s shocking victory in the last presidential election, which revealed that there is no natural transformation from one to the other: in fact, a confrontation between two fundamentally different ideological platforms has matured in the United States.
The main socio-political result of the four years of Trump’s presidency was the exacerbation of this conflict, its transformation into virtually irreconcilable – up to the transition to “unconventional” methods of struggle in the form of months of street protests, riots and even murders of representatives of the other side. But the new elections have confirmed that the American system simply does not know how to cope with such a social division.
Probably, in some ways it is even logical, since the United States is a country of triumphants who traditionally “get everything.” The electoral system, when the votes of the state are not divided proportionally between the candidates in accordance with the support they received from the voters, but go entirely to the winner, stands precisely on this. The idea of compromise and concessions is not in trifles, but on the most important and fundamental issues is deeply alien to the American social and political machine.
Things would not be so bad if the current split divided America into distinctly unequal parts. The minority – whether conservative or liberal – would simply be suppressed and forced to accept their defeat due to the impossibility of changing the situation. This, by the way, would give a chance that the dominant majority would make some, albeit insignificant, concessions to him.
But the situation, when society is practically divided in half, contributes to the radicalization of the parties, each of which believes that it is worth pushing a little more – and it will be possible to take it completely and irrevocably upward. Well, if you cannot achieve your goal by legal methods, illegal and simply violent ones become extremely seductive, which, in fact, is already happening in the performance of the democrats. Moreover, the preliminary election results, which at the time of this writing fit into the formula “Biden is still ahead, but he has practically no chance”, make further escalation inevitable.
A century and a half ago, a violent conflict between the two parts of American society, which were fundamentally not ready to negotiate, turned into a bloody civil war for the United States. And it is no coincidence that the comprehension of the current processes makes one wonder whether this time America will be able to dodge a repetition of the gloomy scenario.