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Gale's View

November 12th 2020


The Electoral College system used by the United States to select its Presidents is an anachronism. It dates back to the days when chosen representatives had to travel, sometimes many hundreds of miles, from all over the country by stagecoach or on horseback to New England where they would cast their votes as required for the candidate that their State had chosen. The delay between the local result being announced and the national endorsement allows for the four-footed travelling time between home and the congregation of delegates. In most States the Electoral college places were and still are allocated on a winner-takes-all basis which can throw up some strange results. In 2016. For example, Hillary Clinton won a majority of the nationwide popular votes but because Mr. Trump won a majority of the Electoral College seats he won the Presidency.  It is what it is and it is up to the Americans to decide if they want to change it or not. 

I have in my wardrobe a Grand Old Party tie which I bought during my first visit to the Republican National Party headquarters on `The Hill` in Washington in the early nineteen eighties.  I have worn it with pride on US high days and holidays on many occasions since. Until 2016.  I have worked as an International election observer in many countries of the World and I have experienced chicanery, danger, corruption and downright hostility in the course of that work. For sheer ill-humour, campaigning dishonesty and unpleasantness however the contest between Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump took first prize. Until this year. 

We have had enough experience of the Trump `Presidency` over the past four years to have been forewarned that his bid for a second term of office was going to be nasty, dirty, vicious and mendacious. The Trump presidency has been characterised by many things but grace, charm and dignity are not some of them.  And yet more Americans voted for Mr. Trump than for any other candidate in history except, fortunately, for the man who is now the President-elect, Joe Biden. 

Setting aside the discrepancies of American politics – I have known Southern Democrats who have been further to the right of the political spectrum than some Republicans from Northern States – I would not in normal times have been a natural Biden cheerleader. It is, in fact, considered bad form to interfere in the electoral processes of another sovereign state (something that seems to have by-passed the attention of Mr. Farage and that President Obama discovered to his counter-productive cost during the EU referendum campaign) and my pre-US election views are of no consequence whatsoever

The man derided by Trump as `Sleepy Joe` is, however, a man of vast political experience and humanity. He is a man tempered by the fire of personal tragedy and misfortune that he has had to overcome. Rather than the `Little America` parochial populism peddled by the present incumbent of the White House President-elect Biden is an internationalist with a serious grasp of foreign affairs and a man who wants to build bridges rather than walls.

Notwithstanding some minor and one significant differences of political opinion between Mr Johnson and the President- elect there is still much more that unites America and Great Britain than divides us. Aside from the longstanding’ special relationship’ our policies towards Iran. China, Turkey, and the neo- Soviet Union for instance, have a great deal in common and the Climate change conference to be held in Glasgow should offer the opportunity to demonstrate a unity that would have been unthinkable with Mr Trump in the Oval Office.

The failure of the current President to magnanimously concede defeat is saddening and demeaning, not least of his already tarnished reputation, but the legal process will run its course and I believe that we can look forward with optimism to the Biden Presidency.

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