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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Not everyone wants a ‘normal’ Christmas if it means a harsher lockdown to come | Gaby Hinsliff

Boris Johnson is obsessing over tradition, but many would prefer to keep festivities small, and try something different this year

Binge in December, purge in January.

Or at least, that’s the way Britain normally does Christmas: a brief splurge of shopping, partying and stuffing our faces, before waddling into new year skint, hungover and carrying an extra half a stone. Boris Johnson is clearly a stickler for tradition, to judge from early briefings about a superspreader Yule in which up to three households could be allowed to mingle for up to five days and to hell with the consequences for intensive care units. But is a big blowout, paid for by yet more lockdown when the R number inevitably surges, really what we want this year?

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