Another Trump in four years?
The author is a Washington correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.
Washington, D.C. was in a festive mood as Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden was confirmed as the president-elect on Nov. 7. Strangers danced together as music played throughout the streets. In the crowded square on the north side of the White House, signs like “Trump Out!” and “You Are Fired!” could be seen. It was similar to the protests ignited by police killings of Black people in May. But the mood was different this time.
After interviewing several people, I realized how the atmosphere has changed since May, when people called for justice and human rights in one voice.
“I was living in Seattle four years ago, and when I heard the news of Trump’s victory, I cried. It was so devastating. I am truly happy today,” said a federal employee.
“I was in front of the White House that day. It was terrible, but people comforted one another to endure for four years. And the day has come,” said a teacher.
Some things are clear. That day was a festival for half of the people. When they are in the street to cheer on Biden’s victory, there are others who are crying at home, angry and in despair. In this election, 72 million American voters cast votes for Trump. He received more votes than any other losing presidential candidate in history. He received 2.5 million more votes than former president Barack Obama, when he was elected with 69.5 million votes in 2008. Nearly half of American voters, or 47.4 percent, supported Trump.
The Republican Party performed better in Congress. It maintained a majority in the Senate by successfully defending most seats — defying expectations. After the Republican Party added more seats in the House, the Democrats barely kept the majority. Trump lost re-election, but his position in the party has strengthened. In order to win the two Senate races in Georgia — for both of which the top two candidates will go to a runoff in January, Trump’s help will be desperately needed.
That’s why Trump is not conceding. By encouraging the fiction that his victory was stolen by the Democratic Party, he can unite his supporters and maintain political power. There is no evidence of election fraud, but there are rumors Trump or his children may run for president in 2024.
This time, Trump won support from groups alienated by globalization, such as rural residents, workers in traditional and smokestack industries, small business owners in small cities and under-educated white voters. Unless their livelihoods improve drastically — and if their trust in established politicians in Washington is not restored in the next four years — there may be another Trump. The election is over, but the tension continues.
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