Three days after the presidential election, with the outcome still hanging in the balance, Roger Cohen of the New York Times published a column that offered his take on the ongoing controversy. “The People Versus Donald Trump,” read the headline. “They want him to go, and he won’t listen,” added the subhead.
Now there is nothing unusual in a newspaper columnist opining about what “the people” want, even one who, as in Cohen’s case, doesn’t live in the United States. But Cohen’s judgment overlooks this striking fact: while Donald Trump may have lost the presidency, he won millions more votes this year than he did in 2016. His total haul of nearly 70 million—exceeding Barack Obama’s total when elected to his first term in 2008—suggests that some approximation of “the people” were keen for him to remain in office for another four years.
Furthermore, Joe Biden’s narrow victory in what he himself described as “the most important election in our lifetime” leaves the national political landscape remarkably unchanged. Democratic hopes of gaining control of the Senate appear unlikely to materialize. In the House of Representatives, the party actually lost seats. Biden is a winner with no coattails. The electorate that has ousted Trump from the presidency has refrained from endorsing a leftward shift in American politics. Biden brings to office a mandate that is somewhere between slight and non-existent.
So like it or not, even as Trump himself leaves the White House, the forces that vaulted him to the center of national politics will persist. To revert to Cohen’s formulation, on matters related to race, religion, culture, climate, and the economy, “the people” are of two minds—or, more accurately, of several minds. As one prominent expression of the cleavages that have fractured our country, Trumpism, with or without Trump, will continue to play a large role in national politics for some time to come.
Read the full article in The American Conservative.