The Agony of Victory, The Thrill of Defeat

Scott F. Aikin and Robert B. Talisse in Daily Nous:

The election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris comes as an enormous relief. Our democracy has been saved from a second Trump term, and arguably saved as such. Yet the outcome falls short of expressing a clear rebuke of Trumpism. The GOP now has a choice: take the defeat to heart and rebrand, or double down on the Trumpist program.

Of course, our hope is that the GOP will take the former course. Yet we expect it to further embrace Trumpism with all of its resentment, contempt, and distrust of a significant portion American citizenry. Why? Well, as we see it, the core of Trumpism is the view that a considerable portion of the American citizenry isn’t properly American. Indeed, it is the view that more than half of the public is against America and in some sense actively plotting its downfall. This is why, for at least the past four years, the GOP has grown more explicitly committed to the idea that political power is to be wielded almost exclusively for the sake of its own expansion. That’s how one governs when one sees one’s opponents as enemies of democracy itself. When the other side is out to dismantle democracy, no electoral defeat of one’s own side could be legitimately democratic. Trump was elected not because he came up with this idea and then sold it to the citizens, but rather because he gave voice to that sentiment. It antedated his candidacy and will persist after his Presidency. Regardless of the election returns, Trump’s defeat appears to his followers as a defeat of America itself.

More here.  [Scroll up at Daily Nous to see other philosophers’ responses to the election results.]