Rose-colored glasses: OFF.
I am not an American. I am a native born Canadian who practiced law in Toronto and London before becoming a law professor. I have worked in law schools in pre-handover Hong Kong, in New Zealand, and for the last 16 years in Australia. I have had sabbaticals in the United States, Canada, and Britain. And yet despite not being an American I am going to be presumptuous enough to offer some comments about the United States. +
These won’t be disinterested comments because I like the United States a lot. I think America has been, and is, a force for good in the world. Who better today to be the world’s most powerful nation? Of course, I would have said the same about the British Empire up to its post-World War II petering out, so some readers may wish to stop reading right now. Yet my point is that I defer to no one in claiming the crown of being the most pro-American, non-American law professor there is working outside the United States today.
Start with how you run elections.
I won’t excerpt the next part—the point I want to cover comes later in the piece—but you definitely want to read it for yourself. Some may find it shocking. ALL of us should find it horribly embarrassing, infuriating, and…motivational, shall we say.
Then there is Joe Biden. I’d say he won firstly because of COVID (no COVID, no Biden presidency) and secondly because he sold himself as a moderate, safe pair of hands that suburban voters and so-called “NeverTrumpers” could convince themselves wouldn’t go too far to the political Left. Instead, and I quote a savvy political scientist friend here in Australia, “these suburban voters got precisely what they saw and knew, but pretended not to notice.”
This is a president who is barely articulate; who is unable to field two or three consecutive tough questions; and who looks to any disinterested observer to be significantly impaired in terms of his mental facilities. Think back to the sort of press conferences former President Trump fielded and the level of press hostility to him that oozed through the room, day in and day out, with all the back and forth. Were it not for a sort of journalistic praetorian guard around the current president, one that shields him from all but the softest of softball queries—and even these are frequently fumbled and make for excruciatingly embarrassing TV clips down here in Australia—we would all be openly wondering how much longer he could stay in office. This decline was obvious to any observer before last year’s election, of course. Trump Derangement Syndrome may have given lots of voters grounds “not to notice.”
But there is a price to pay for willful blindness. That price is especially high for voters on the Right of the political spectrum, those who very much disliked former President Trump’s coarseness, vulgarity and brawler’s instincts and hoped for a relatively painless return to civility in the political sphere without too much long-term damage. From this observer’s perspective that chimera was never on offer. It was a mirage, a fantasy. And any honest assessment should have concluded that was the case before last year’s election. Indeed, if today’s polls mean anything (an open question), then with Biden now down to below 40 percent approval and completely underwater not just with Republicans but with Independents, buyers’ remorse has set in. Big time. Alas, that is not how elections work. As President Obama made clear (when he won, not when Mr. Trump won), elections have consequences.
I’m with H.L. Mencken on this. Voters deserve to get what they wanted. And they deserve to get it good and hard. For more than a few suburban and NeverTrumper Republicans, I suspect that is precisely how they are getting it at the moment. Whether they can admit as much, to others or to themselves, is a separate question.
A fair enough point, with one crucial issue carefully elided, namely the patently fraudulent 2020 “election,” stolen in front of our very eyes with total impunity in what has to be the all-time record setter for Most Audacious In A Scummy Role. That successful hijacking suggests the need for a revision of Mencken’s classic aphorism, which in full says: Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard. Updated to more precisely reflect contemporary American reality, it should run more along the lines of: American “democracy” is the theory that the common people deserve to get what they’re willing to put up with, good and hard.
That one should hold until such time as the limit on what we’re willing to put up with has been reached and overtopped, at which point everything goes pear-shaped, the more astute bettors cash out and quickly leave the casino.