Election exposes America’s ‘perilous’ divide

New York, November 6

So far, the big reveal in the contest between President Donald Trump and former Vice-President Joe Biden is the extent of the cavernous divide between Republican and Democratic America, one that defines the nation, no matter which candidate ultimately wins.

Voters from both parties turned out in droves to pick the next President, but as they did, they found little agreement about what that President should do. Democrats and Republicans prioritised different issues, lived in different communities and even voted on different kinds of ballots.

Trump supporters in Phoenix, Arizona. Reuters

Whoever emerges as the winner, that division ensures that the next President will face significant gridlock in Congress, scepticism about the integrity of the vote and an agitated electorate increasingly divided by race, education and geography. Even the vote count itself threatens to further split Americans.

Two days after polls closed, neither Trump nor Biden has earned the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency. The Republican incumbent is encouraging his supporters to protest outside counting locations still sorting through mail ballots — the method of voting preferred by many Democrats — while pursuing an aggressive legal strategy that could lead to further delays.

“Except for the Civil War, I don’t think we’ve lived through any time as perilous as this in terms of the divisions,” said historian Barbara Perry, the director of presidential studies at the University of Virginia’s Miller Centre. Even after the 2000 election, when the Supreme Court ultimately intervened on Republican George W Bush’s behalf, Democrat Al Gore quickly conceded and congressional leaders found areas of agreement on Capitol Hill.

“To come out of something like this, you need to have a leader who can lead and willing followers,” Perry said. “I just don’t see willing followers on either side.” — AP

Networks refuse to air Trump address

New York: ABC, CBS and NBC all cut away from President Donald Trump as he spoke from the White House to make an unfounded accusation that the presidential election was being stolen from him. Trump on Thursday tried to commandeer the nation’s airwaves at a time when the evening newscasts are shown on the East Coast, day after the slow drip of vote counting revealed his leads in Pennsylvania and Georgia dwindling. MSNBC’s Brian Williams also interrupted the President. Network personalities had sharply criticised Trump after his angry, middle-of-the-night speech. AP

Worst virus-hit Counties vote for Trump

Washington: US voters went to the polls starkly divided on how they see President Donald Trump’s response to the Covid pandemic, with a surprising twist: In places where the virus is most rampant now, Trump enjoyed enormous support. An analysis reveals that in 376 counties with the highest number of new cases per capita, the overwhelming majority — 93 per cent of those counties — went for Trump, a rate above other less severely hit areas. Most were rural areas in the Dakotas, Montana, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Iowa. “Public health officials need to step back, listen to and understand the people who aren’t taking the same stance,” said Dr Marcus Plescia of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. AP

Protesters duel outside counting centres

Phoenix/Philadelphia: Backers of President Donald Trump, some carrying guns, ramped up demonstrations on Thursday night against what he has “baselessly” called a rigged election, in battleground states where votes were still being counted. The demonstrations were largely peaceful. Reuters

Facebook bans ‘Stop the Steal’ group

Oakland: Facebook on Thursday banned a large group called “Stop the Steal” that supporters of President Donald Trump were using to organise protests against the presidential vote count. Some members had called for violence, while many falsely claimed that Democrats are “stealing” the election from Republicans. AP

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