The end of Trump, finally

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have the daunting challenge of reinvigorating American democracy

In the United States, what is normally a formal procedure to confirm an electoral victory has, on this occasion, acquired huge democratic symbolism. On Monday, the Electoral College finally certified Joe Biden's victory in the presidential election with the largest turnout in history. The numantine, not to say ridiculous and disloyal, resistance of the populist Republican Donald Trump to accept his obvious defeat has remained as this: another shameful stain on his grotesque presidency, marked by the deep division which he has sowed across the country. Although he did not get away with it, it is clear that Trump, with his irresponsible megalomania, has put America's rule of law and its institutional architecture at risk, and above all, he has shown incredible contempt for voters, miring their vote in false allegations of electoral fraud that have not had any traction in the courts. All this is coming to an end. The United States and all of us who watched them with growing concern can start to turn the page. The transition in the White House is already underway. Trump has not had enough strength, enough capacity for intimidation and distortion to achieve outside the polls the victory that the voters denied him.

With Biden, what's coming now is a return to democratic normality. A democracy is always, by definition, an imperfect system; it lives subject to change. The cliché says it all: the least bad of systems. If it is not looked after, it easily degrades and worsens. We have seen this in dramatic periods of contemporary history, especially in the Europe of the 1930s. And we are seeing it again now, with the populist authoritarianisms, which have led us into a dangerous drift fuelled over the last four years by none other than the president of the world's leading liberal democracy. So there will be time to scrutinise and assess what Biden does. Now, for the time being, we must celebrate what Trump will no longer be able to do. He cannot continue to poison the international scene and destroy multilateralism, he cannot continue to fight against climate change, he cannot continue to boycott civil coexistence and respect for diversity in his own country, he cannot continue to weaken American democracy.

It is clear, however, that despite his defeat, Trump maintains a more than remarkable support (almost 73 million votes against Biden's 78 million) and, therefore, he will continue to put up a fight. He has already hinted that he wants to run for office again. Well, the best way to neutralize him is to invigorate American democracy, to show that it is close to the people and that it serves to solve problems, not to make them worse or to camouflage them. In the midst of the pandemic and the ensuing economic crisis, this will not be easy. Veteran Biden, with the support of Kamala Harris -she does pose an image of renewal and change-, has the immense challenge of demonstrating that it is possible to govern without resorting systematically and botchedly to demagogy and lies, and instead govern with honesty and for everyone.