Contested election

Joe Biden has won more votes than any other presidential candidate in US history, but the race for the White House is not decided on the basis of popular votes. Securing the magic mark of 270 electoral college votes, too, it seems, may not be enough to his being declared as Donald Trump’s successor just yet. The incumbent President has already announced his intention to mount an intensive legal challenge and fall back upon any permissible recourse to ensure he is not robbed of a second term, as he puts it. The United States of America was a deeply divided country going into the polls, and the split down the middle has only widened, not narrowed, with a cliffhanger of a result. Like in 2016, Trump has proved the pollsters wrong with a strong showing. His critics did get it right when he could not resist making a premature victory claim. The reluctance to concede defeat had long been predicted.

The delayed and slow vote count has led to comparisons being made with the election process in India. Each has its merits and flaws, but what is underscored is the importance of every vote. It is not over until it is over — till every vote is counted, and in the case of the US, every legal hurdle cleared. Institutions in the country, as also in several other democracies, are being tested as they confront polarisation and divisive politics. A contested election that amplifies the confusion and disorder cannot be considered a model for democracy. A calming influence can only come from those at the centre of the political stage. That’s the hope.

Key federal and state elections this year featured a record number of Indian-American candidates, with several registering victories that mark a watershed for the community. Even as Kamala Harris’ fate as the next Vice President hangs in the balance, four other members of the ‘samosa caucus’ have been re-elected to the House of Representatives.

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