Trump has tested the limits of the US constitution – but it’s still holding | Simon Jenkins

The fact that the president cannot hold on to power shows the checks and balances are working

Slowly, painfully, alarmingly, Donald Trump has been conceding the US presidency to Joe Biden. Over the weekend his close friend Chris Christie called his delay “a national embarrassment”, joining judges, aides and other Republican politicians. Meanwhile the world has erupted in a chorus of derision at the state of American democracy, polluted by corruption, fake news and money. Countries whose leaders would not dream of risking an open election, let alone conceding one, mimic Moscow in ridiculing “the obvious shortcomings in the American electoral system”. Beijing celebrates by preparing to jail a clutch of Hong Kong democrats.

The reality is the opposite. The late American historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr pointed out that the US constitution regularly takes its grand coalition of diverse peoples to the brink of disintegration, shows them disaster and pulls them back. Trump in 2016 was a populist candidate who ran for election on a pseudo-revolutionary ticket against the Washington establishment. Though he won fewer votes than his opponent, Hillary Clinton, an electoral college biased to protect the interests of small states against big ones gave him the presidency. In office he ran up huge debts, was a bully and a xenophobe, and relentlessly attacked all centres of establishment power. The economy boomed.

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The left is accused of authoritarianism – but it’s the right that gets away with it | Andy Beckett

The scaremongering has begun about Biden and Starmer, while Trump and Johnson undermine democratic norms

For a wearyingly long time now, one of the right’s favourite tactics against the left has been to accuse it of planning a police state. From Winston Churchill’s 1945 claim that a Labour government would need “some form of Gestapo” to last year’s warnings in the Tory press that Jeremy Corbyn would turn Britain into a version of Venezuela, rightwing journalists and politicians have used the spectre of authoritarianism to make the left seem sinister and foreign.

The tactic is sometimes still effective. In this month’s US election, Donald Trump won the key state of Florida in part by persuading Hispanic immigrants that Joe Biden, a famously pragmatic Democrat, would instead form an intolerant leftwing government. “I voted for Trump to prevent the United States from resembling countries like Cuba,” Jose Edgardo Gomez told the Miami Herald. “We want the United States to continue being free and to continue having a true democracy … Many Americans don’t understand the threats that socialism poses.”

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