In Depth

Instant Opinion: ‘class war’ US election ‘a wake-up call for Boris Johnson’

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Thursday 5 November

The Week’s daily round-up highlights the five best opinion pieces from across the British and international media, with excerpts from each.

1. Allister Heath in The Daily Telegraph

on a warning from the US

America’s class war election should be a wake-up call for Boris Johnson

“So what are the lessons for Boris Johnson? The first is to realise that the politics of the West are now all about class and education. The Tories can only win again if they maintain or increase their grip of working-class voters. That means, among other things, a Covid policy that doesn’t condemn them to permanent impoverishment. The second lockdown is a mistake. Johnson must put his new core voters first, not the professional classes and their Zoom meetings. That also means doubling down on the anti-crime agenda, on Brexit, on human rights reform, on abolishing the BBC licence fee. The Tory working class base doesn’t want to pay more for green energy, and they hate the Government’s awful, anti-car roads policies. Second, Johnson needs a pro-growth, pro-entrepreneurial agenda: Trump was better at this, even if his reforms would be undone by Biden.”

2. Corey Brettschneider in The Guardian

on the election aftermath

Don’t underestimate the threat to American democracy at this moment

“This grave threat comes from the president’s false declaration of victory, despite no evidence that he had won the election, and with millions of valid votes yet to be counted. He referred to any suggestion that he had lost as ‘a fraud on the American public’. In one breath, he declared that ‘we want all voting to stop’ and that ‘we don’t want any ballots to be found at four in the morning.’ This conflation of voting after election day and counting votes after election day – a standard practice in every election – is deeply misleading and deeply dangerous. In this respect, its damage is far worse than many of the many fibs Trump has made while in office. His suggestion is a direct lie, one that comes while millions of voters look to him to understand who our legitimate president will be.”

3. Germania Rodriguez Poleo in The Independent

on the Democrat’s miscalculation

What went wrong for Biden with Latinos? The answer might be hard to swallow

“Many Democrats have come to see Cubans as a lost cause, painting them as too traumatized by communism to make rational voting decisions. However, this theory doesn’t hold up when we consider that the Cuban-American vote was turning blue, voting in record numbers for Obama twice and then for Clinton in 2016, who surpassed Obama’s numbers in heavily Cuban areas. But much has changed over the last four years that has made the Democratic Party less compatible with Miami Latinos. While ten years ago the party would not have come close to nominating a presidential candidate who called himself socialist, the increasing prominence of figures such as Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez make many Latinos nervous. Then there are Venezuelans, who are quickly increasing their numbers in the state as their country experiences the second-worst refugee crisis in the world.”

4. Gail Collins in The New York Times

on a closer than expected race

Well, That Was Scary

“OK, perhaps not exactly what you were hoping for. Election night wasn’t a real thriller for a whole lot of people, and now it looks as if we’re going to be counting votes for … quite a while. Will everybody still be talking about it at Thanksgiving dinner? If so, be careful not to invite your cousin in Pennsylvania who forgot to vote. The postelection fog was so thick that we occasionally lost track of some details — like, say, who was winning. Never did get a final word, but Joe Biden certainly seems to be doing better when it comes to little details like getting the most votes. Donald Trump, who you can feel free to refer to as ‘the long-shot contender,’ has responded exactly the way you’d expect — declaring victory while waving around lawsuits.”

5. Jenni Russell in The Times

on gendered scrutiny

Character flaws only matter if you’re a woman

“When a politician walks on stage craving a response from the crowd, visibly charged by their laughter or applause, making them feel delightfully complicit in what is unfolding between them, that is a radically different experience from the solemn lecture that a more remote personality — think Gordon Brown or Iain Duncan Smith — might deliver. The depressing fact about this particular and sometimes successful character flaw is that in the West it is only a plausible path to power for a particular group: confident, socially privileged white men. Imagine a woman being elected to the highest office because she was an entertaining joker, lousy on the details, indifferent to facts, forgetful and untrustworthy but likeable and — to her supporters — fun. Imagine her having an unknown number of children by an unknown number of men, some of whom she doesn’t see, as well as numerous affairs. Imagine a black man or woman winning the presidency or the prime ministership on the same basis. You can’t. It is unthinkable.”

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