Three takeaways from the US elections

By: Solita Collas-Monsod - @inquirerdotnet - Columnist/Philippine Daily Inquirer | November 14,2020 - 08:00 AM

Reader, I have three takeaways from the results of the US elections, and I wonder whether they are the same as yours.

My first takeaway is the question: After four years of Trumpian lies and abuse of power, how could millions of Americans still vote to reelect him?

The lies: The Washington Post, which I consider to be on par with the New York Times, has kept a database of Trump’s “false or misleading claims.” As of of the middle of September, it had counted 20,000, but this rose to 25,000 in the runup to the elections.

The abuse of power (like someone we know): Asking his Cabinet members to undertake activities against his political opponents, for example—Barr in the Attorney General’s Office, Pompeo in the State Department, Comey in the FBI. It is a testament to the strength of these institutions (not their leaders, you understand, but the bureaucracy) that Trump has generally not succeeded. And let us not forget his blatant attempt to extort the Ukrainians to get some dirt against Joe Biden’s son in exchange for US government aid.

Biden has beaten Trump by more than 5 million votes and counting, but 72.3 million Americans (latest figures) voting for Trump is hard to take. Understand, Reader, that on the whole, I love the American people, who count five of my siblings as part of them. Come to think of it, one of my siblings is a Christian Evangelical, who according to pollsters, voted 80-20 for Trump.

Then there is the second takeaway: The seeming ease with which Trump has gotten away with his authoritarian predilections. This has come out only after the elections, but still, it happened in the bedrock of democracy—Trump preempting all election sources and claiming victory, and urging that the vote counting be stopped as he insisted he had won.

And then he claimed fraud because the vote counting continued—even if on the same ballots, his partymates won. The “evidence” that has come out on social media has all been proven false. For example, there was a claim that Trump ballots were being burned (photo included). It turned out that they were sample ballots, or something like that. There were also “eyewitness” accounts, with Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani presenting, but the eyewitness credibility was zilch. Also, claims that the dead voted.

It is so eerily similar to what happens in Philippine elections, except for the fact that it is taking place in the US of A, Reader. Who would have thought?

Except Trump is taking it one step farther: He has, for all intents and purposes, made the transition to a new administration a very difficult one. And he has fired incumbents, replacing them with Trump loyalists, and refused Biden intelligence briefings, without regard for what it may cost the United States in terms of national security and in terms of government stability. He is like a spoiled little boy in the midst of a temper tantrum because he cannot get what he wants, and he will bring the house down if he has to. Worse, the Republican party seems to be in on it.

The third takeaway is how US Catholics voted. I would have wanted to know how Fil-Americans voted, but could get no information on the internet. So this was the next best thing, especially since I had been getting forwarded messages from a group called Priests for Life, headed by a Fr. Frank Pavone. It was this group that also forwarded Cardinal (now Archbishop) Carlo Maria Vigano’s message about the forces of light (Trumpians) versus the forces of darkness, essentially asking for the faithful to vote for Trump.

Reader, you will remember Vigano as the cardinal who was asking Pope Francis to resign (pertaining to the McCarrick scandal), and remains a fierce critic of the Pope to this day. Father Pavone, on the other hand, has told the faithful that contrary to the results of “mainstream media manipulation,” there is no certified winner yet. Forgetting that in all past elections, the call of major media was accepted.

That Pope Francis has congratulated Joe Biden on his election should put a stop to all this—unless of course Pavone thinks that the Pope is misinformed.

Did Catholics fall for the Vigano-Pavone line? One cannot say for sure. But the voting results show that there was no Catholic vote. Catholics were divided evenly between Trump and Biden. Compare this with the 60-40 vote between Trump and Clinton in 2016.

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