Voice of the Jewish News: Turmoil wins

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Voice of the Jewish News: Turmoil wins

This week's editorial reflects on the American election and why uncertainty is the last thing a bitterly divided country needs.

Jewish News

As we went to press on Wednesday evening there was no clear US presidential winner – it was simply too close to call, with Nevada, Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Alaska all still undeclared and potential challenges elsewhere.

Joe Biden had already won the second highest number of counted votes of any candidate in US presidential election history, 2.3 million more than Donald Trump, but because of the quirks of the country’s electoral college system, that means nothing.

By the time you read this the world will probably know who it is dealing with for the next four years. Let’s hope so. Uncertainty is the last thing we need.

What was certain by Wednesday evening was that America remains bitterly divided. With Republicans holding the Senate and Democrats suffering losses in the House, Biden would not get much through Congress even if he does win. What broke in 2016 remains broken.

Three years before Boris Johnson bulldozed Labour’s ‘red wall’ in the north of England last year, turning many northern left-leaning constituencies Tory for the first time in decades, Trump did the same in the States, breaking the Democrats’ reliable ‘blue wall’. The ageing and familiar Biden has not put the political map together again.

As with 2016, Trump’s base is still led by white voters without college degrees (but with guns and suspicions), while Biden’s sails are still blown by liberal states like California and increasingly large Hispanic and black demographics. Just as with Brexit, differences have become schisms.

America’s Jews are also divided. Overall, roughly four out of five voted for Biden, according to polls, but Florida – with a huge and ageing Jewish population – went wholescale Trump. In the sizeable, strictly-Orthodox worlds of New York and New Jersey, the general ratio was reversed – almost 80:20 Trump. We’ve publish their reasons on page four. We’ve also aired the concerns many Jews share about Trump’s anti-democratic tendencies, which were on show again in the early hours of Wednesday, crying foul and calling for a stop to vote counting. 

Constitution? What constitution?

As we went to print, the vast majority of British Jews were hoping for a Biden win. Yet if the Democrats do take the White House it will be less a vote for Biden than a vote against Trump. He wanted it to be all about him – and it has been.

Love him or loathe him, the man whose recent decisions and diplomatic breakthroughs have changed Israel’s future will continue to shape America’s, regardless of whether it is he or only his legacy hovering around the Oval Office for the next four years. 

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