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What is the most important thing we should learn from the 2020 election?

Thing?Try several things.The Electoral College is still brokenI’ll be clear: the College is the single most insane system that I’ve ever come across.And I’ve dealt with some pretty insane systems in my time.I cannot, I just cannot, believe that we were terrified of an outcome where the lead candidate was 3,000,000 votes ahead. Secretary Hillary Clinton should have won the 2016 election under ANY other system, having a full 2,868,686 votes to levy against Donald Trump (I don’t have to call him ‘President’ anymore, thank God!).This isn’t always going to happen.The College isn’t always going to respect democracy.I would be saying this if the results were flipped the other way, too. If Trump had won the election this time around, the College would still be broken as a system. And even though President-Elect Biden won, there’s still the possibility of a faithless elector; very little penalty awaits such a stain on democracy should they feel strongly enough to disregard the will of the people! Sure, there’s a penalty, but if you’re prepared to pay that, if you’re happy to part with your money and time, then the College will not try to stop you.The British system of First Past the Post isn’t perfect by a long stretch. It tends to favour the winning party exponentially more than the proportionate votes should have. Here’s an example of how the Scottish votes have gone:I’m no fan of the blue wedge (that’s our Conservatives, not quite as extreme as the Grand Old Party but pretty damn right-wing by European standards!), but I couldn’t look you in the eye and tell you that the representation that First Past the Post offers to them as opposed to the yellow (Scottish National Party) is fair.And yet, the Electoral College, with its seats and faithless electors, surpasses the stupidity of First Past the Post in every conceivable way.Albert Camus once said of the absurd man’s actions:All systems of morality are based on the idea that an action has consequences that legitimize or cancel it. A mind imbued with the absurd merely judges that those consequences must be considered calmly. It is ready to pay up.I consider myself an absurdist at the best of times, and I accept that the absurd man (or woman or non-binary!) would have to acknowledge that they are bound up in consequentialism. But I consider Camus to be naïve here; I think that morality is more than just consequence assessment. It can be based on personal belief as well, which is essential to deciding whether or not a set of consequences do legitimise or cancel. The consequences linked to an act of eating a baby (pain, shrieking, emotional distress for onlookers) doesn’t dictate the morality of the act; my morality comes from my belief that pain, shrieking, and emotional distress as consequences should be minimised in favour of other consequences that I believe to be more appropriate.In this sense, law is in part an amoral system of rules and regulation. Law does not believe; its writers believe, but it does not. One’s external morality can influence law’s creation and application in legislatures and courts, and moral criticisms can sway new law into existence. But as an inert, dormant, untriggered force, directed solely at hypothetical consequences, law is amoral.Along those lines, should an elector have both a belief in the value of breaking their democratic word and an acceptance of the consequences that will befall them should they break that trust, they can be absurd in the absurd system. The Electoral College, as part of law, is indifferent to the injustices it creates; it holds no beliefs! The College won’t suddenly come to life and bitch-slap faithless electors and those engaged in gerrymandering! Therefore, those who hold beliefs must rein in the College and faithless electors, who otherwise find a perfectly absurd home in one another.The College is pure political pantomime which should have been rendered obsolete by the Internet and cars and transport and phones, but it was retained all the same. It’s past time to uproot it and replace it with a real, functioning democracy.The system respected democracy this time.It might not do so next time.Joe Biden is far from perfectThe kid gloves can come off now that he’s President-Elect Biden.We needed to get away from the Trump administration. President-Elect Biden wasn’t anywhere near close to my first choice, but the Democratic Party isn’t exactly known for sharp lurches to the left. So I got behind him as the lesser of the two evils on offer, and supported his campaign to overthrow Darth Cheeto.Now that we have President-Elect Biden, we have to be critical of him.His legendary mess of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act 1994 was one of Trump’s biggest guns with which to attack the new President-Elect, and it was one hell of a power move. The Act was dredged up as a point against his campaign, and the truth is that while the Act was part of a wider context of rising crime (not to mention the support from the black community to begin with, in that 58% of those polled supported the Act), it causes a great amount of upset in the current era.According to the website Vox:Biden reveled in the politics of the 1994 law, bragging after it passed that “the liberal wing of the Democratic Party” was now for “60 new death penalties,” “70 enhanced penalties,” “100,000 cops,” and “125,000 new state prison cells.”The law imposed tougher prison sentences at the federal level and encouraged states to do the same. It provided funds for states to build more prisons, aimed to fund 100,000 more cops, and backed grant programs that encouraged police officers to carry out more drug-related arrests — an escalation of the war on drugs.And Brookings:But one thing is clear: the 1994 bill interacted with—and reinforced—an existing and highly problematic piece of legislation: The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, which created huge disparities in sentencing between crack and powder cocaine. Under this bill, a person was sentenced to a five-year minimum sentence for five grams of crack cocaine, but it took 500 grams of powder cocaine to trigger the same sentence. Because crack is a cheaper alternative to powder cocaine, it is more prominent in low-income neighborhoods. These neighborhoods are more likely to be predominately Black and in urban areas that can be overpoliced more easily than suburban or rural areas. While the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, enacted under the Obama-Biden administration, reduced the crack/powder cocaine disparity from 100:1 to 18:1, the damage had been done, and its effects continue to this day.Truly, astonishingly bad optics, mate!He has since apologised for his role in this movement to be “tough on crime”, proposing new legislation to decriminalise marijuana for instance, but there’s not a lot of way back from that record. It is enough to cast serious doubt on his judgement from several communities, and a close eye should be kept on him. It was enough to be “Not Trump” on the ballot, but now that he’s in power, this attitude will haunt President-Elect Biden for a lot his time in the White House.He also has a slight tendency towards corporate favouritism, as noted by the Jacobin:The most well-known case is Biden’s relationship with MBNA, a major credit card company based in his home state that was his largest single donor between 1989 and 2000. By sheer coincidence, Biden voted against a measure requiring credit card companies to warn consumers of the consequences of making only minimum payments and voted four times for an industry-supported bankruptcy bill that made it harder for financially strained borrowers to get protection from creditors. Another coincidence: MBNA hired Biden’s son, Hunter, as a lobbyist straight out of law school, and later hired him as a consultant from 2001 to 2005 — the same years Biden was helping to pass the bill.The “Hunter’s laptop” bullshit was a Republican ploy to discredit President-Elect Biden which thankfully failed, but he’s got more than a little bit of dirt on him through this. In a connected matter, he has a spotty history with bankruptcy issues, as noted by GQ on the dirt surrounding him on the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act, an Act that he had been pushing to get through for years and which led him to clash with Senator Elizabeth Warren ever since:Biden was one of the bill's major Democratic champions, and he fought for its passage from his position on the Senate Judiciary Committee. He had pushed for two earlier bankruptcy reform bills in 2000 and 2001, both of which failed. But in 2005, BAPCPA made it through, successfully erecting all kinds of roadblocks for Americans struggling with debt, and doing so just before the financial crisis of 2008.[…]As political writer Alexander Cockburn once wrote, "The first duty of any senator from Delaware is to do the bidding of the banks and large corporations which use the tiny state as a drop box and legal sanctuary. Biden has never failed his masters in this primary task. Find any bill that sticks it to the ordinary folk on behalf of the Money Power and you’ll likely detect Biden’s hand at work."And from Prospect:[Biden] voted against three amendments to ease bankruptcy requirements for consumers whose financial troubles stem from medical expenses. He voted against an amendment that would have helped seniors keep their homes. He voted against exempting servicemembers and widows of servicemembers killed in action from the law’s eligibility restrictions. He voted against an amendment to exempt women whose financial troubles stemmed from deadbeat husbands’ failure to pay child support or alimony. And Biden even voted against an amendment that would have ensured that children of debtors could still be given birthday and Christmas presents. Biden also voted against allowing debtors to pay their union dues during bankruptcy, potentially imperiling their employment and ability to achieve financial rehabilitation.[…]It’s not as if Joe Biden was opposed to all amendments to the legislation. He voted to enshrine a “millionaire’s loophole” that allows wealthy, well-counseled debtors to shield their assets from creditors by placing them in asset-protection trusts. Nor did he act to cut off the loophole that shields assets placed by wealthy families in “dynasty trusts,” such as are offered by Delaware.Most recently, we have to reckon with President-Elect Biden’s… slips of the tongue. “You ain’t black” being the most famous, though by no means the only one. He’s got his heart in the right place when it comes to race and LGBT+ relations (these days), but his rhetoric is curiously tone-deaf, which is risky in a time like this wherein the Black Lives Matter is ramping up its campaign to expose America’s racist core.And then, we have Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris.A historic win for women!A historic win for black people!I mean this wholeheartedly, I am pleased for her. Her stances on Medicare and providing access to college education for students from poorer backgrounds is highly commendable, as is her desire to abolish the death penalty.Except, we do have to remember her record as a prosecutor, which left her wide open to the likes of former Presidential candidate Representative Tulsi Gabbard’s critiques, as documented from the Rolling Stone magazine:Gabbard particularly zeroed in on Harris’s record on drug-related offenses: “She put over 1,500 people in jail for marijuana violations and then laughed about it when she was asked if she ever smoked marijuana,” Gabbard said, referring to an interview Harris gave to The Breakfast Club in which she joked about smoking pot in college.[…]Perhaps most damningly, in 2019 a Washington Free Beacon investigation found that between 2011 and 2016, while Harris was attorney general, at least 1,560 people were sent to California state prisons on marijuana-related offenses. Although the number of low-level marijuana offenders sent to state prison significantly declined after 2011, that was attributed to a state-wide initiative to curb state prison overcrowding and divert lower-level offenders to county jails.The claim is somewhat misleading given that Vice President-Elect Harris didn't prosecute all of those cases, and many factcheckers like APN note that Facebook memes added a racial element to the marijuana convictions that was never there initially. But it's a clear optics U-turn from prosecution to her current position on decriminalisation (another of her positions that I support).A lot of the criticisms of Vice President-Elect Harris leave out that she was not herself personally involved in a lot of the issues. She manned large offices with lawyers who made some of the gaffes that are now attributed to her, such as the 2014 incident when she was Attorney General wherein some of her lawyers argued that non-violent offenders should be forced to combat wildfires. It’s easy to conflate Vice-President Elect Harris’ actions with those of her underlings, but in this context she was not, so to speak, responsible for forcing offenders into forced labour in California.However, it’s harder to distance herself from her record on this next issue, in which 1,000 drug tests had to be dismissed under her tenure in the District Attorney’s office, as reported in the Sacramento Bee:The San Francisco drug lab was shut down after a lead technician, who testified on behalf of prosecutors on drug cases, was found to have systematically mishandled the drug samples seized from suspects, even consuming some herself.While the San Francisco Police Department was responsible for running the lab, not Harris’s district attorney office, a court ruled in 2010 that the district attorney’s office violated defendants’ constitutional rights by not disclosing what it knew about the tainted drug evidence.Vice-President Elect Harris also has a poor relationship with truancy laws. While she later expressed regret for the effects, the Lost Angeles Times details what happened:Harris took that advocacy statewide, sponsoring a 2010 law to make it a misdemeanor for parents whose young children miss more than 10% of school days a year without a valid excuse. Parents could be punished with a maximum $2,000 fine, up to a year in county jail or both. Violators of the law could defer judgment by participating in regular meetings with school officials and improving their children’s attendance.[…]Harris and her allies have said the law’s purpose was to prod school districts to provide resources to families of truant children, not to lock up parents. But the Huffington Post reported that several counties in California arrested, charged and sometimes jailed parents under the law backed by Harris.To some, she might appear to flip-flop on issues; it's not unusual for a Presidential candidate to do this, but it's ammunition against her for Trumpistas who are looking for anything they can find to catch her out. Her team’s denial of DNA testing for Kevin Cooper as Attorney General in 2004 is also a flip-flop strike against her; she now supports the testing, but is that too little, too late? There's yet more fuel for their hatred to be found, given that she's female and black. Vice President-Elect Harris is going to have a very interesting time between defending her record and fending off racism and sexism alike.Look, maybe the pair of them have grown naturally into their newfound positions. At least they’re better than Trump. But we cannot be blind to their records. They have to deliver the goods now, and the test of their commitment to the values they espoused on the political trail will be how they conduct themselves in office.And we should be honest with ourselves.Trumpistas like to paint them as radical liberals, but America as it stands has no left-wing party. It has left-wing politicians, such as Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but there’s no unified left wing. President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris are about as centre as it gets for the American system, which translates as still pretty bloody right wing on the rest of the world stage.Democrats as a party only look like the left wing because of what they’re compared to in the Republican Party, which is the gold-standard for the Western far-right:Also bear in mind that the Democratic Party was shifting leftwards while the then-President Obama was conducting mass surveillance via the National Security Agency and playing with drones, as noted in the Guardian:Barack Obama has claimed that drone and other airstrikes, his favored tactics of war, have killed between 64 and 116 civilians during his administration, a tally which was criticized as undercounted even before Friday’s announcement.[…]Yet the count is also incomplete, leaving out the civilian toll from drone strikes in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq. Nor did the administration go into detail about where the strikes occur, citing what an official told reporters on Friday were “diplomatic sensitivities”, even as it presented the assessment as a significant advance in transparency. The Guardian has filed a freedom of information act request for records relating to the civilian-death assessment in the US bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria, where thus far the US military has concluded it has killed 36 civilians since summer 2015.The upper limit of the civilian death toll from drones stands at more than 800 people in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, during the time period Obama’s drones tally covered.Don’t be fooled by the Trumpistas.These are not the progressive heroes that people like myself would be hoping for. My standard of leftism as a Scot would terrify most Americans, but we can agree that there have been poor shows from across the board. The new President-Elect duo are not angels: hell, no politician is! President-Elect Biden is going to be remembered for a while as “The man who beat Trump”, but that reputation isn’t going to last forever. His and Vice President-Elect Harris’ records will be coming into more focus now that the Presidency is theirs (that is, if Trump loses the SCOTUS case that he’s building).Learn this lesson; progressives have succeeded in getting rid of Trump. but they’ve appointed a neoliberal in his place. It’s better by far, and the Atlantic has some warm words for President-Elect Biden even against this backdrop:Biden didn’t extol neoliberalism in the language of a true believer and came to publicly regret his vote to ease banking rules. He wasn’t prone to abstractly celebrating the virtue of free markets. His analysis was always earthier, without hints of the technocratic tendency to trumpet the efficiency. He urged the party toward centrism, because it was the basis for electoral victory. “It’s where the American people are,” he told a journalist in 2001.Even so, there is plenty of reason to worry about the pair of them. Between the above and criticisms of President-Elect Biden’s odd history with interventionism—Overall, Biden’s reflexes are to provide little political assistance to countries in transition. That is a recipe for failed states, and failed states produce not only terrorists but also refugees, and they invite foreign intervention by neighboring states and aspiring hegemons.This half-in-half-out approach to military intervention also strips U.S. foreign policy of its moral element of making the world a better place. It is inadequate to the cause of advancing democracy and human rights.—wording courtesy of the Atlantic, there’s scope for this victory to go all wrong.If we haven’t learned this lesson already, we’ll learn it soon enough.Politics, for some, is a jokePoor, poor Kanye.The Presidency is to narcissists what a lamp is to a moth. They can’t resist the allure of power. And Kanye West, well-documented narcissist, flew into it.At a rally in July, he not only decried Harriet Tubman (an enslaved black woman who freed herself and other slaves and then became a suffrage activist), but broke down crying over abortion. I get it. I really do. The thought of abortion is a hard one for me to swallow, even as I accept that the woman’s decision is the final one. It’s not me who carries the kid, it’s not me who will have their life on the line upon complications. Hell, men couldn’t even suck it up and accept the negative side effects from male contraception, which we’ve been expecting women to endure through their pills for decades!I know why West is upset over abortion. Even as a liberal, I do understand it. I come from a religious background, so I have heard the anti-abortion arguments for long enough to hold sympathy without agreement. Indeed, I support limits on abortion based on time and science to determine foetal potential for pain and to curb any eugenics temptations. Ideally, I’d love to have a world wherein abortion was no longer necessary, in that we provide for people and give them the resources and health provisions to have a baby safely and carry it to term intact.But this isn’t a perfect world, and the act of carrying a baby and later birthing it is a supreme nine-month long labour for a woman. Many can’t even actually afford to look after the child, and the argument of “just give the kid to an orphanage” negates one simple fact: it fucking hurts to birth a kid. Comedian Carol Burnett once said that childbirth “is like taking your lower lip and forcing it over your head”; if a God designed that system for the reproduction of life, just because Eve ate one piece of fruit, and pre-programmed us to be horny, then He’s a sadistic monster.If that level of pain, not to mention the nine months of actually carrying the child to term, is not a woman’s choice to undertake, freely and gladly consented to, then we’re kidding ourselves that women have any equality to men. We give corpses more bodily autonomy when it comes to harvesting their organs than we give to women when we deny them the chance to abort their pregnancies in a humane manner (balancing scientific knowledge of pain and nervous system growth with the needs of the woman). Our entire existence is built on the extraordinary pain of women; I would not blame a single one of them if they all collectively said “enough”.Understanding West is different from agreeing with his views.But in his narcissism, he ran for President with no workable plan for his chosen issues. He appeared before the crowd, and his solution to abortion was this doozy:The maximum increase would be everybody that has a baby gets a million dollars or something in that range… If you had opportunity to be given a million dollars, just for being pregnant, would you have considered it? And then everybody would start having children, the greatest gift of life.America has 166,700,000 women.Let’s be generous to West and assume that maybe 1/3 will fall pregnant at some stage in their lives. Likely more will deliberately fall pregnant with the financial incentive in place, but we’ll be generous so as to not break the bank. That’s about 55,566,667 women. And each gets $1,000,000 for every pregnancy.55,566,667 * $1,000,000.You get from that $5.5566667e+13.If you’re playing at home, that’s $55,566,667,000,000.For comparison, US expenditure on the military in 2019 was $718,690,000,000.And that’s not even accounting for women having more than one kid.The takeaway is clear: the government would be financially crippled in a week. The sperm banks would be raided by women who wanted babies (read: $1,000,000: poverty will make most anyone take a crazy bet to survive), and then what happens to the baby? Will it be loved and cared for, or will it be tossed into the American hyper-capitalistic society without so much as a care in the world?Some will luck out.Some won’t.And that, my friends, is why ‘pro-life’ is only ‘pro-birth’, with no thought to what happens before, during, or after. Surprise, surprise; the narcissist hadn’t thought anything of his abortion-curbing plan through.And yet, despite this unworkable lunacy, he got a few voters!WHAT THE HELL?!The Presidency attracted Donald Trump in his egomania, and he ran it like a business at the expense of the human lives he was supposed to govern.The Presidency attracted Kanye West in his egomania, and he wanted to implement insane policies that would destroy the bank in his self-assured zeal.To counter this unqualified egomania that’s seeping into the election discourse, with even Dwayne Johnson “entertain[ing] the thought” (even if he’s not serious), things have to change. Even the phenomenon of unqualified individuals jesting about their chances, when married to a system that would do nothing to stop them if they made an effort to run, is very worrying to say the absolute least.What have we learned?Some people run on a narcissistic high.Some people vote for them as a stupid joke.Others are so disillusioned by the non-options from the major parties that they side with these jokesters and clowns; the same attitude got us Trump.And politics is fractured as a result of this joking around.Now, the current limits on who can become President are the following:Be a natural-born citizen of the United StatesBe at least 35 years oldHave been a resident of the United States for 14 yearsThese need tightened, and quickly.Celebrities can fundraise for political causes, but they cannot run for the Presidency without a minimum of experience in political office. At the very least, I’d be expecting to see a degree in a relevant field; this requirement can be interpreted widely, since anthropology is the study of humans one governs, history covers several areas of legal development through the ages, criminology and sociology would give incredible insights into the treatment of criminals and society. Experience and higher education can cancel one another out in some cases (say a candidate has thirty years of Senate experience but they didn’t go to university? Weigh it up on its merits!) but this current system of allowing simply anyone through the door needs to be reconsidered.And yes, I am biased in favour of the elite experts.Thank you, next.The age point needs to be looked at, too. All well and good to have a minimum at 35 years of age (I’d set it at 30 personally, but there you go), but what about the maximum? We had Trump and President-Elect Biden, 74 and 77 years of age respectively, in this election. Much was made over who would die first, who looked the most ill, who had what dementia or cognitive decline. As much as it saddens me to say this, such a policy would likely exclude 79-year-old Senator Bernie Sanders and 71-year-old Senator Warren, but we cannot have a repeat of this madness.Consistency is key here.This makes a problem for the re-election of older office-holders, but I don’t think this maximum should be breached. Say we set the limit at 70 years, and the minimum at 30? That gives a candidate forty years to get into the position of the President. That’s not overly restrictive in the slightest. To those crying that this is a burden on older people seeking the Presidency and is thus a restriction on freedom, I’m chill with that.Within forty years of four-year Presidencies, that’s (depending on the year you were born) ten opportunities to get into the hot seat.Ten opportunities.Most people don’t have the funds to get one opportunity.Besides, while there’s implicit bias against the less wealthy, there’s already explicitly worded discrimination against non-natural citizens. Gee, for the land of opportunity, it’s sure withholding the Presidency from a fairly sizeable chunk of the population, no? But this is a limitation that has been enshrined and accepted.A few more to strengthen the office wouldn’t hurt.We can disagree and be friends on some things, but not on everythingI’d like to tell you a story, if I may.I have this friend. We’ll call him Craig.Craig is gay. I am (at this stage in my life) an evangelical Christian (the kind who gives you Biblical literature as a Christmas present) and am in impressive denial over my bisexuality. We meet at university. We sit next to one another in the law lectures, and we get chatting. He’s quite awkward, but I like him a lot, and we get chatting.He and I go for coffees and hot chocolates. I don’t know that Craig is gay, and I don’t think to ask him anything about his sexuality. But we chat about gay issues sometimes, and a lot of my then-values come flooding out of my stupid horrible mouth.Craig doesn’t retaliate.He remains my friend throughout it.He doesn’t even tell me that he’s gay until later on in our friendship.But then I meet another friend. We’ll call her Jessie. She no longer speaks to me, so I can’t tell her how much of an impact she had on my life. We meet in my Spanish class. She’s a typical university SJW, the hipster-chic kind who’ll correct your speech if you don’t say “they” in just about every instance. Scotland has very few of those, thankfully. But I have to give it to her; she taught me a pretty important lesson.We get chatting about gay issues, and I do my best to flirt with the issue. “Oh, I don’t have the right to judge!”, I try, leaving out the part that I was on an anti-gay mailing list at the time from a ‘pro-marriage’ organisation. She presses and presses; she doesn’t give me an inch. I do the whole cool-as-a-cucumber approach, the suave Ben Shapiro rational veneer of oily semantics juggling, and she’s only getting angrier and angrier with me until I outright tell her that I don’t believe in gay marriage.She then takes her bag and her oversized glasses and leaves our table. I have the sheer, unmitigated cheek to tell her to have a nice life.That day, she is absent from Spanish class.She transferred classes to get away from me.I don’t blame her now, but I did back then. Touchy liberals, I think! I kept my cool, I didn’t storm off! I have won the argument, because I was civil and polite! I find Craig, not knowing that he was gay, and I COMPLAIN ABOUT HER TO HIM.Craig doesn’t retaliate.He remains my friend. God knows how.He helps me see what she was thinking and why.I don’t think that I would have broken out of my rut had it not been for Craig and Jessie. They were two of the best things to ever happen to me. Jessie helped me to see Craig’s perspective, and Craig allowed me to come to my senses in my own time by being there for me. In this, I even manage to come to terms with my bisexuality, and I realise that feeling this way about guys and girls is not an immoral thing. I owe them both a debt that I don’t think I can ever wholly repay.Craig was amazing about these issues when I talked to him, and when I began to lose my faith. Jessie doesn’t know that I made the change; she stayed away from me for as long as she was at university. I never saw her again. Again, who could blame her? I held values that ran contrary to her life! But here’s the thing; while Craig was the gentle, kind type who guided me away from hate, I first of all had to want to be guided. I only understood Craig’s perspective after Jessie had forcibly rejected my worldview and made me see how wrong it was to view some human beings as an underclass, no matter how nicely I smiled at them. For me to listen, I had to first see the harm that I was causing.Since then, I learned that another gay friend (his name for our purposes will be Stanley) had been afraid of coming out to me because he thought I would be homophobic. I can’t remember if I was still transitioning away from homophobia or if I was more or less totally accepting by that stage. Regardless of the stage I was at, though, Stanley was perhaps the tipping point in all of this. This was compounded with learning that another friend Morgan had gender dysphoria and was considering changing names to match their gender identity (“their” being used for anonymity).I had guidance from Craig, rage from Jessie, sadness from Stanley, and a realisation of just how many people were hiding from people like me from Morgan. Those four things brought me back from my hatred masked as kindness.Here’s the issue.Without those four together, I wouldn’t have changed.It’s beyond shameful, but that’s what it took.We have to be prepared to show all four. Like Jessie, we have to be prepared to fight tooth and nail for our rights, against the QAnons and the Confederates and the Neo-Nazis and the alt-right and UKIP and National Front and the Ku Klux Klan. Where one group isn’t targeting us, like the Klan is more interested in harassing people of colour than gay people, their fight is still our fight. We fight on behalf of our shared humanity. Like Stanley, we have to be open about how their hatred makes us feel in our calmer moments; it might not sway them, but it might sway those on the fence. Like Craig, we have to be there for those who come back from that edge, back to kindness. And like Morgan, we have to realise just how the people we love are suffering.Being nice isn’t enough anymore.Being respectful isn’t enough.Not on their own.Bigots have been globally legitimised under Trump, and they aren’t going down easily. Not even with their orange führer taken out of the picture.So when a Republican or such tells you to be nice to them, that you should be kind to them in the wake of this election result, that you need to let them process their feelings, it’s up to you whether you want to use the Craig, Jessie, Stanley, or Morgan mask to deal with them and the wider mess that Trump has left in the West.If you cannot help them, after having given it your best effort, then there’s nothing left for you to do. Others can give it a shot, but know your limits, and know what you need for your own safety. Know when to be a Craig and when to be a Jessie; being a Jessie all the time will anger everyone around you, but being a Craig will lead to a much slower burn which we don’t have a lot of time for in the current climate. And yet, both are needed in the equation, as a balance.We cannot be friends with people who dispute our existence and rights, who refuse to change their small minds with all the evidence in the world put before them. People are capable of changing, but they have to be exposed to both kindness from those they’re hurting and their fury alike. We can chat as Craigs once the other side is listening about the best way to further our rights to the benefit of all (there’s a genuine worry about letting male sexual predators who fake trans identities into women’s prisons!), but if one side is demanding that our entire corpus of rights should be on the table, we have to be able to put on our Jessie masks and demand that we be acknowledged in the first place.If you think there’s hope, like Craig thought there was hope for me, talk.If you don’t, then your first priority is to your own safety.According to the current figures, 70,686,229 Americans decided at the very least that the danger to our corpus of rights was not a deal-breaker. Be it through oily Shapiro semantics twisting (“Oh, we don’t just oppose same-sex… stuff, the rules are the same for unmarried couples too!”) or pure outright hatred (“FUCKING FAGGOT [I’m bi] N*****S NEED TO GO DIE, HELL YEAH FILTH!”), the effects are the same.Seems like Jessie might need to stick around for a bit.No demographic is immune from bigotryYou know how we always hear that strong women will save us?Or the gays and trans people?Or the people of colour, like some rainbow of good?There’s some truth in that (indeed, many are praising former-Representative Stacey Abrams, a black woman, for mobilising support in Georgia to oust Trump through her Fair Fight campaign), but don’t be wholly taken in by the numbers.Inexplicably, 28% of LGBT+ people voted for Donald Trump this year, DOUBLING from the 2016 election. September exit polls indicated that 45% of queer men were lining up to give Trump their vote. This is in the face of the man who tried to reject transgender people from the US military to save on pointless expenses, whose administration halted visas for the same-sex partners of diplomats and UN ambassadors (limiting access on the basis of marriage alone), who rolled back trans healthcare provisions in the Department of Health and Social Services.A lot of Trump’s attacks were launched against our trans guys and gals and non-binary pals, but some members of the overall umbrella community did not have their backs. They cared more about their taxes, or their comfort, or their voting habits, or for their ability to “pass” as straight and cisgender to their own advantage.As for women, 55% of white women polled sided with Mr “Grab Them by the Pussy”. That’s an increase of 2% from 2016. This is a massive problem for modern day feminism, wherein people say the right things and then vote in an uber-misogynist who seeks to remove the right of all women to receive a safe abortion should they need it. But since some women will never need that abortion, there’s a divide between the haves and the have-nots. Once again, what we see is a failure of empathy.The Latino and Black vote for Trump also rose by a few percent. HOW?! This is the man who has such a clear history of racism, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything good that he’s done! Now, to give them their dues, perhaps they were put off of President-Elect Biden thanks to the above-mentioned issues, but it’s literally a choice between that and an orange wannabe fascist who unashamedly despises you!It comes down to the degree of harm being wrought, both past and present. We have one candidate who, in the past, did many racist things (such as the aforementioned policing law) but then served under Barack Obama (who again, remember, I do not care hugely for save for on balance with the alternatives running under the Libertarian and the Republican banners) and ran to dethrone a tyrant in the present. On the other side, we have a bastard who called peaceful black protestors “sons of bitches” in recent, living memory, who calls African nations “shitholes”, and who repeatedly evades questions on white supremacy so that he would not be in danger of losing the Confederacy vote from his supremacist buddies. This is, of course, on top of all of the racist comments and actions he has perpetrated in the past.Trump, asked if he has concerns that he's using the language of white supremacists and many view his tweets as racist, says: "It doesn't concern me because many people agree with me."— Manu Raju (@mkraju) July 15, 2019You don’t get into bed with Steve Bannon and avoid such supremacist claims.One candidate did racist things and took his time to grow up, but he did grow up.The other did not grow up.It’s the lesser of two evils (see my section where I evaluate the new President-Elect and Vice President-Elect), but President-Elect Biden is the less bitter pill by far.Polled white men were in the majority of Trump’s supporters, coming in at 58%. As if there was any doubt that that would be the case. This dipped from last time, but it’s over half. If this is representative of America as a whole, white men and women left to their own devices would have voted in Donald Trump. As a white man who is bisexual, I feel significantly let down by the social demographics I belong to. I’m especially disappointed with the LGBT+ community; we are fragmented and divided, and over a quarter of us voted for a bigot who would have ruined so many lives, who would leave millions to the mercy of COVID-19 while withholding financial and health provisions. They are the torch-bearers for Trumpism, even without Trump present in the White House.He is a spectre who will forever haunt democracy, and they bear him.We bear him.I’m not happy about that.Frankly, I’m utterly ashamed of us.Still, let’s celebrate while we can. We can start by thanking Stacey Abrams.The Supreme Court is a political institutionOne could have argued that the SCOTUS wasn’t a political institution, even after Bush v Gore. They applied the law to the case and did what they could. I hold that their decision in that case was held back by a lack of imagination; take the dissenting words of Justice Stevens, who said the following of the case:…nothing prevents the majority, even if it properly found an equal protection violation, from ordering relief appropriate to remedy that violation without depriving Florida voters of their right to have their votes counted. As the majority notes, “[a] desire for speed is not a general excuse for ignoring equal protection guarantees.”In Justice Stevens’ view, the court had made a decision to find in Bush’s favour. One that was based on expediency, but a decision all the same.This encapsulates much of constitutional law, and a lot of administrative law too. How one interprets the highest laws of the land is a consciously-made choice, not merely a seeking of truth. In some cases, truth doesn’t exist before a judge makes their call on novel cases. What of gay marriage? SCOTUS had to decide that ‘dignity’ encompassed a person’s right to marry whoever they liked in terms of being equal! The Affordable Care Act? Justice Roberts had to decide to read the tax penalty as taxation to allow it to persist! Abortion had to be decided as a matter of privacy between doctor and patient, but on another day, the Justices could have easily overridden privacy by deciding that an unborn child constituted ‘life’ and that the SCOTUS (as part of the State) would be depriving ‘life’ against constitutional guarantees.That's the way the Polish Constitutional Court went with their analysis of the abortion debate, and even liberal bastion Justice Ginsburg was wary of the way Roe was decided (while still supporting a woman's right to abortion)!I fall on the side of protecting abortion rights and same-sex marriage. I’ve decided that that is how I’m going to read and interpret their relevant clauses. Others refuse, and decide to read it along their own biases and interpretations.You see how Supreme Courts work?They decide.They don’t just fact-find. They find facts, which lead to multiple possible (and legally plausible) outcomes and interpretations, and they apply the ones that they decide fit best. They hear out the counsel, and they deliberate on the strength of the arguments within the legal setting. The more novel the case, the more discretion is made open to the judges, the more politically contentious the topic (say, abortion when it was first brought to SCOTUS), the more a judgement becomes a decision-making exercise as opposed to fact-finding alone. This isn’t contract law, this isn’t private property: those fields are pretty fixed.But constitutional and administrative law?By virtue of being tied to politics and principles, they’re doomed to be in flux forever.And SCOTUS is, for all intents and purposes, a Constitutional Court.So let’s go back my opening line. One could argue that SCOTUS wasn’t a political institution, even after Bush v Gore, but it was a deciding institution. It decided on matters. Sometimes for good, and sometimes for ill. This whole nonsense that the SCOTUS doesn’t make law is absurd, no matter what an originalist would tell you; their members are brought in by the President’s nomination and their later confirmation, and a President is voted for by the people. They know that, should a chair vacate, it will then be filled by the President they have voted for.It’s political by default of its makeup.But after Bush, that political element was thrust into the limelight. No longer was it just deciding the law based on law that was already present. It was making political decisions. One could argue that even before then, Loving v Virginia and Brown v Board of Education of Topeka were politically-fuelled decisions based on concepts of the good which could be extrapolated from the legal language to suit the Justices’ needs. As the sides of the political aisle become more and more divided on human rights, such decisions become political statements. Even a person who declines to say anything on the case before them, who says that their hands are tied, has decided to say nothing: qui tacet consentire.Those who are silent are presumed to be in full agreement.That includes the originalist who says “I couldn’t possibly comment.”(For anyone who wants to review this topic in more detail, Philosophy Tube delivered an incredibly in-depth discussion on originalism and deciding vs fact-finding, which I include here for your convenience. Ignore the horse.)Enter Justice Amy Coney Barrett.Republican Party official Harmeet Dhillon had this to say on Fox:We're waiting for the United States Supreme Court - of which the President has nominated three justices - to step in and do something. And hopefully Amy Coney Barrett will come through and pick it up.If the SCOTUS wasn’t political before (and we’ve clearly established that it is a political institution anyway due to its very makeup), it sure as hell is now.I’m still hoping that Justice Barrett will have enough moral fibre to allow the people of America to have their say in the election. I think very little of her voting record and stances; I find her originalism blind and her reading of the law restrictive to the point of sheer malice. Her unwillingness to acknowledge climate change as a real and present danger when directly asked is particularly worrying. However, for all I know, she might be entirely innocent in any political discourse. Maybe Trump nominated her in the hopes that she would come through, without explicitly giving her orders.But the SCOTUS is currently Trump’s biggest weapon in his arse(nal). Justice Samuel Alito recently decided to enforce vote segregation orders by date in Pennsylvania. He went on a massive rant to the Federalist Society about gay rights and ‘political’ COVID-19 lockdowns. Whatever the outcome of the case that Trump’s lawyers bring, the Justices are getting ready to hear it out. They’re gearing up. And even if the case presented is a flimsy one, it’s gonna be a tempting option for six sitting arch-conservatives.SCOTUS is not neutral to law and Presidents.And it is very, very political.What comes next?You’ve been freed, do you know how hard it is to lead…?This is far from over.Trump is going to do all that he can to invalidate this result.His fanbase is already crying fraud.The courts are getting involved.America, you’re in for a rough few weeks, maybe even months. President-Elect Biden will come out of it hopefully unscathed, but to become complacent is to give ammo to the other side. Not that their heavily-armed goons need any more.And after that, President Biden takes power. He has to be held accountable. He no longer has the excuse of “I’m not Trump!”; he has to lead, and lead properly. That means policies, healthcare, bipartisan agreements, international affairs. He has to deal with a Britain whose Boris was gearing up to trade with a Trump administration, a Russia whose Putin was getting more and more testy with Trump, a China whose Xi Trump has tried to rattle and blatantly failed, a North Korea whose Kim was barely being held in check.Americans can’t even decide on the distinctions between capitalism and socialism without launching at one another’s throats these days.You’re without Trump.Awesome.Wow!Do you have a clue what happens now?How is the new administration going to handle domestic affairs? The Black Lives Matter movement, incensed by Trump and his tear gas, will be watching President-Elect Biden with steely eyes. The LGBT+ community have been living in great concern under Trump, so he will need to restore their faith in government. Women need assurances that their bodies are their own, and not merely incubation chambers for sperm and eggs. A deadly virus is still ripping through the States; stimulus packages are essential.This is one of the most politically fraught times of our lives. At a time when allies are a must, most of the world looks to the US with great suspicion. On the global stage, there’s no way to move forward without help and support from other countries.Phase One has to be settling the country at home and saving lives.Phase Two has to be the renewal of international affairs.Phase Three is maintaining that peace, if it’s even possible to achieve now.But it’s fine for me to just say all of this; President-Elect Biden actually has to do it.Let’s see how he does.But just remember one last thing: President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris might not have won without Dr Jo Jorgensen of the Libertarian Party splitting the vote from disaffected Republicans.I got very angry during the more tense moments in the Georgia counting, during which Dr Jorgensen was holding the ~1% that President-Elect Biden needed to overtake Trump. I made an illogical post on Facebook lamenting this. I complained that she was stealing Biden’s votes, why couldn’t the Libertarians have thrown support his way, it’s their fault that Biden’s not the clear and decisive winner yet! It was a fairly childish move, but I was panicking, and logic wasn’t really my strong suit at the time. Like a good little nerd, writing things down helps me to keep calm when I’m stressed.Plus, I wanted to believe the best in our Libertarian friends, that they might have been tempted to vote for Biden too, that they had a shred of decency!However, a dear friend of mine provided me with solid evidence from Libertarian online hideouts (not that he is one, of course!) that the American Libertarians were furious with their own and Dr Jorgensen for splitting the votes away from Trump. In their eyes, Dr Jorgensen and her supporters were actually the reason that Biden could keep his lead, because those Republican Never-Trumpers actually had somewhere to go that allowed them to avoid their skewed perceptions of socialism and communism without throwing their support behind Trump himself. A worthless protest vote, in other words.Apparently 4chan had a meltdown over this?Here’s a selection of some of their spicy memes:Evidence must always take precedence over sentiments and optimism.And so, I had to concede the point to my friend.That opens up one more problem, though.Had it not been for that Libertarian split, Trump just might have won.I'm fairly certain that she had Biden-leaners along with her. Dr Jorgensen's open border policy, her rejection of Trump’s famous wall, and her vocal support for Black Lives Matter would have turned many Trumpistas away from her. But plenty of her other policies, such as free market healthcare, slashed taxes, and a strong advocacy for the Second Amendment, skewed to the right’s terror of socialised anything, welcoming in disaffected Republicans who didn’t like Trump but would have held their noses to vote for him had there been no third party alternative open to them.Without that ~1% buffer, Trump would have had a much better shot in a lot more of the swing states. Those where the vote ended up as 49.x% : 49.y%. Yes, many people wanted Trump to lose the election, well over half of the country wanted him out!But without Dr Jorgensen splitting the vote from both sides and taking 1,735,372 votes for herself, Trump would have had a much clearer path to winning the likes of Arizona, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Georgia. There was less than 1% of the in the balance in all four of those states, and she held it each time. We’ll never know for sure, but had enough of those votes gone to Trump, those four states alone would have afforded Trump an additional 57 electoral votes; that would have set Trump from the 214 he currently holds up to 271, with North Carolina (15) and Alaska (3) giving him another 18 votes once their voting is finished (which are looking ruby-red right now).Each of those states voted for Trump in 2016.And while Arizona may be exacting vengeance on Trump over his treatment of their beloved Senator John McCain, that's a loss that could have easily been softened through a coalition between those other historically red states.Many people argue against the idea that Dr Jorgensen lost Trump the election. They say that no Libertarian owes their vote to anyone. This is true, but there’s a simple empirical test; simply take away Dr Jorgensen from the equation, and then see what happened to the scores. Would more voters have abstained from voting? Would they have swallowed their pride and voted for President-Elect Biden?Or maybe enough nutters would have gone for Trump.Had every hard-right Libertarian voter followed their twisted internal logic and tactically voted for Trump over Dr Jorgensen (a candidate I respected while disagreeing with her on matters to do with civilian arms, taxation, and her excessive deference to free market economics), Trump would have walked away with 289 electoral votes.This is before we account for the fact that, had the Democrats chosen anyone other than boring old neoliberal President-Elect Biden as their Presidential candidate, had they gone with real progressives such as Senators Sanders and Warren, they would have lost the election in a landslide, even when opposing Donald J. Trump.Just food for thought.Maybe enough of her voters would have shuffled off to President-Elect Biden. Much of her platform would have been appealing to them; hell, if she’d loosened up on my aforementioned issues with her stances, I would have been sorely tempted if I were an American! But in a world of identity politics, with Republicans running wild in their hatred for any form of social provision, the Libertarian ballot might have called out to those who wanted a break from Trump while still harbouring traditional GOP support in their core.For all of the work done against him, faced with all of the tragic deaths from COVID-19 and beautiful voter re-enfranchisement from Fair Fight movements, Trump might have lost the 2020 election on a Libertarian miscalculation alone.That's a really sobering prospect.

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