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UK - USA: Lesser evilism is back

Saturday 7 November 2020, by siawi3


In the world of Starmer and Biden, lesser evilism is back. But we can’t just give up.

Joe Glenton

6th November 2020

Elections had been bland for years before they were lit up by candidates like Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn. For a moment it seemed like, instead of being forced to choose a lesser evil, we might get to chose someone who wasn’t evil at all.

A quick look at the 2020 US elections, where two rich, right-wing, white blokes are fighting for the most powerful elected position on Earth, says it’s business as usual.

Lesser evilism is back. But politics is too important to be left to centrists and conservatives.

Blame Remain?

In the UK, a broken mainstream politics is being shown up again as the British establishment waits to see who wins the presidency. And a volatile, dangerous atmosphere exists on both sides of the Atlantic.

The latest tactic on the right is to blame Remain campaigners for the damage a Biden win would supposedly cause.

Framing Theresa May (of all people) as a liberal Remainer, the right-wing Express carried a piece on 5 November titled If Biden wins the UK will suffer badly – and it will be entirely because of REMAINERS.

It argued:

the fault will lie squarely at the feet of Theresa May and her rabble of Remainer cohorts dragging their unwilling heels on Brexit for three years. Their inability to achieve, well, anything, will have holed Britain below the waterline. Because Uncle Joe has made no secret of the fact he doesn’t like us.

Biden is some kind of communist, anti-British ‘Uncle Joe’? Theresa May, an architect of the Windrush scandal, as a flip-flopping liberal? This speaks to how dishonest and detached the commentariat are. They just play to their own crowd, regardless of the truth.

Court battles

Trump’s threats of a legal challenge in the US Supreme Court over the result have been attacked by his opponents, including Biden’s campaign.

Yet it’s worth recalling that the establishment wing of the Remain campaign chose to mount legal challenges in regard to the EU referendum, a move which angered many Leave voters who, like Remainers, held their views for a wide range of reasons.

Elections and referendums are legally different, of course, but reneging on or challenging the results of either in this way can feed grievances.

Court battles are always preferable to violence, but these legal challenges have shown up some of the hypocrisy of the liberal and conservative wings of the ruling class. They all love democracy, as long as it works for them.

Same questions, still no answers

Seeing a centrist would-be president like Biden struggle against an obviously far-right serving president like Trump tells an important story: the centre has no answer to the big questions at home or in the US.

Sanders was betrayed by his own party, and the same is true of Corbyn. But only the left has developed any serious ideas about how to deal with the poverty, inequality, hopelessness, and hate that the far-right feeds off.

It’s hard to see lesser evilism return to electoral politics after so much vibrant activism and hard work over the last five years. But as long as the real questions remain unanswered, we have to push on.