Thursday, November 5, 2020

Today by Paddy Manning

Biden his time
If every valid vote is counted, the Democrats look set to win

Image of Joe Biden

Joe Biden. Image via Youtube

After a reversal during counting overnight as big-city and mail-in ballots were tallied, former vice-president Joe Biden is favoured to win just enough electoral college votes – by holding Nevada, and flipping Michigan, Wisconsin and Arizona – to clinch the presidency. If Pennsylvania and Georgia fall his way, as appears quite possible on current trends, Biden will have won 306 electoral college votes – the same as Donald Trump did in 2016 – to which he will add the extra legitimacy of winning the national popular vote by a solid margin. President Trump falsely claimed fraud last night, and at a press conference today in Philadelphia in the battleground state of Pennsylvania, where the Trump campaign wants to stop the count as its lead evaporates, his son Eric declared they would sue. “We’re going to win Pennsylvania, but they’re trying to cheat us out of it because they know it’s their only path to victory,” he said. “We are going to file a suit in Pennsylvania. It is the last thing that we wanted to do, it’s the last thing my father wanted to do. But this is rampant corruption. It can’t happen. It’s not fair. This isn’t democracy.” Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani went a step further, claiming the president had won not only Pennsylvania but the entire US election, and threatened to file a federal suit. Republicans such as former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, Florida Senator Marco Rubio and others rebuked Trump for claiming fraud and filing lawsuits without evidence. In Australia, both Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese have called for patience and for the democratic process to be respected. 

Morrison was cautious at a Sydney press conference, declining to speculate on the outcome of the election or the legal manoeuvres of the Trump campaign. “I’m not a participant in the US political process, I am a partner,” said Morrison. “Australia is a partner with the United States, and we respect the decisions that the American people make in their democracy … we will await the outcome of their process. It’s not for me to run a commentary on those things.”

Albanese was more forthright. While expressing confidence in US institutions and recognising that Labor would work with whoever is elected, Albanese said it was critical that the counting of ballots was allowed to continue in battleground states like Michigan (which news networks have called for Biden). “Australians will be somewhat concerned, I think, at some of the footage, for example, outside Detroit, Michigan … of people shouting in a chant to ‘Stop the count’,” Albanese said. “That’s really shouting, ‘Stop democracy’. And we need – all of us who hold democratic values around the world – need to be prepared to speak up for democracy.” 

Former PM Malcolm Turnbull took a dig at Trump overnight, tweeting “Count every vote”. Former treasurer Joe Hockey went the other way, lending credence to Trump’s claims by telling 2GB radio that electoral fraud was “absolutely” possible, and the US electoral system was “a complete dog’s breakfast, right across, not just Pennsylvania, but right across the country”. Given widespread gerrymandering, voter suppression and a blatant Republican assault on the independence of the US Postal Service, there is some substance to Hockey’s comments, but the timing is unwise as the world’s most powerful country is on a knife edge, with civil unrest a distinct possibility. As a former US ambassador, Hockey might be uncomfortable lining up with LNP maverick George Christensen, who weighed in from Far North Queensland with charts purporting to show “unnatural jumps in tallies” in Michigan and Wisconsin at about 4am, “just like the president said!” 

The final result may not be known until Friday (that’s Saturday, Australia time), and congressional counts are also tight with the status quo the most likely outcome (Democrats keep their House majority while Republicans hold on in the Senate). US markets rallied on the prospect that a victorious Biden would be unable to secure sweeping legislative reform. On Fox News, commentator Greg Gutfeld said Biden would be the first president to be a lame duck from the get-go, while Trump would be an ex-president like no other, who would carry on the fight all the way through to 2024. The losers in 2020, he said, were the “media-pollster industrial complex” who, once again, got the election result badly wrong. 

“Sadly, what has been an effective organisation, united in purpose, is now totally dysfunctional. The organisation has now failed the test of political maturity with people unwilling to work together, listen to each other or compromise for the sake of the organisation and the members’ interests.”

CFMMEU national secretary Michael O’Connor, brother of shadow employment minister Brendan, resigns, citing “irreconcilable” differences. He intends to remain head of the union’s manufacturing division.

“We believe it took a lot of courage to get where we are, and we will stand up for what we believe in. If motivated by that [changing the name because it was toxic], it would have made sense to change our name 18 months ago or earlier.”


Adani denies it is changing the name of its Australian mining division to Bravus – Latin for “courageous” – in order to wipe clean its reputation.

Election 2020: Trumpism is here to stay
The outcome of the US presidential election still remains in doubt, with Donald Trump holding on to key states that delivered him victory in 2016. Today, Oscar Schwartz on what drove voters to each candidate, and what the results mean for a nation already exhausted by division.

The amount the federal government has spent securing 134 million doses across four possible COVID-19 vaccines, including 50 million doses announced today, with a view to inoculating everyone who wants a shot in 2021.

“The CIC’s full royal commission powers would only extend to 20 per cent of the federal public sector. This means that 80 per cent of the federal government, including politicians, would not be subjected to the same level of scrutiny. Such a model suggests one set of rules for the public sector, and another for politicians … This will severely restrict the agency’s capacity to get to the bottom of so many of the corruption and misconduct issues that have eroded the public’s trust in government.”

Transparency International Australia comments on the draft of the federal government’s bill to establish a new Commonwealth Integrity Commission.

The list

“Built as it was on a structure of imported and stolen capital, Australia’s national culture was militaristic, imperialistic and, above all, racist. That last truth bomb … is perhaps McQueen’s most enduring contribution to progressive thought in Australia. There is practically no university-educated Labor or Green voter, now, who does not believe that Australia’s history, and its national culture and identity, is fundamentally racist.”

“Like the Labor Party in Australia, the Democratic Party was in shock in late 2004 and into 2005: leaderless, aimless, angry. In large part, this reflected the apparent victory of conservatives in the culture wars and the triumph of neo-liberal economics in the two countries - and for that matter in Britain as well, where Tony Blair’s New Labour had embraced Thatcherism in some ways more wholeheartedly than had the Iron Lady’s conservative heirs. Indeed, it can be argued that both Paul Keating and Bill Clinton were the true architects of the triumph of neo-liberal economics in their respective countries.”

“Besides the United States under Donald Trump, and Brazil under Jair Bolsonaro, Australia is the only major economy that does not take the need for action on climate change seriously – and does not recognise the economic opportunities that come with taking action. This is not the sort of international company we should be keeping: we should be ashamed of it.”

Paddy Manning

Paddy Manning is contributing editor (politics) at The Monthly and has worked for the ABC, Fairfax, Crikey and The Australian. He is the author of Body Count: How Climate Change Is Killing Us, Inside the Greens and Born To Rule: The Unauthorised Biography of Malcolm Turnbull.


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