Trump supporters attend a protest named 'Stop the Biden steal' (Image: EPA/Cristobal Herrera-Ulashkevich)

Well it’s all gone mmm yeah, still. Despite President Donald Trump’s Thursday evening (US time) pre-emptive press conference doubling down on claims of a rigged election, Joe Biden is on track for a narrow victory, after the polls shifted in the two days of post-election day counting. Smilin’ Joe has picked up up Wisconsin and Michigan, with Nevada, Arizona, North Carolina, Georgia and Pennsylvania in the balance.

The Trump campaign isn’t giving up, sending phalanxes of lawyers to every state in contention to effectively argue the same point in each: that irregular mail-in ballots are being treated as regular and ratified, and that the Democrats are manufacturing new ballots.

Trump’s rhetoric has evolved into a full scale assault on the very fabric of democracy. His list of grievances, all presented without evidence, is growing by the hour, fuelling the chaos in the streets. His targets include the media (as ever), the polls (“suppression polls”) and “secret” hands at work to steal his victory.

Legally, there doesn’t seem to be much likelihood of a decisive success for Trump, or of the Supreme Court taking up the case, but you never know. Equally, Trump could hold the lead on the east coast and flip the two western states and narrowly prevail.

That would mean a 6 million vote gap between the popular vote, and the electoral college, an absurd result but one unlikely to prompt structural change in the US. 

The result otherwise has been no triumph for progressives. The failure of the “blue wave” to crash across the country has left the Democrats with a reduced majority in the House, a failure to flip the Senate — likely to remain in GOP hands — and no gains at the state level, which means that a majority of states will be gerrymandered/redistricted by Republicans. 

The next thing that likely happens if president Biden takes office will be the squeezing-out of the left by the Democrat centre. Without control of the Senate, very little that the Democrats wanted to do can get done, and the four years of the Biden/Harris presidency will be messy, governing month by month through deals and tactical moves.

But that may not be unwelcome to a Biden administration. With Senate approval needed for cabinet posts, Biden can propose a series of centrists oriented to Wall Street, a new dominant foreign policy, and limited change, as the price of confirmation.

Expanding the Supreme Court, constitutional change, that’s all gone, as is much chance of a Green New Deal. The Republicans committed to austerity will be glad to shuck what remains of Trump’s expansive industry policy — such as it was — in favour of deficit and debt reduction. Who knows what will come during this period — we didn’t expect the Tea Party during Obama’s first term — but it won’t be programmatic progressivism. 

But it won’t be the Biden administration at all if the right has its way. If there were any doubt about the anti-democratic spirit of the right, it has been dispelled by the sycophantic falling in line of the conservatoriat.

From Fox News across to Australia’s Chris Kenny and Miranda Devine, the entirely fictitious stories of suddenly found ballots, mysterious turnouts, sudden suspensions of counting — all part of the standard process — has been worked up into a crisis by a deeply corrupted right.

This is the final transition to a sleazy banana-republic right cynically manipulating a gullible public. At the popular end it is staggering to see the ease with which a section of the US public took to a whole new set of lies — red MAGA-hatted good ole boys drawling “we’ve always counted the votes on election night”.

It’s the next stage in the transformation of American politics, to a set of wholly imaginary relationships to reality — though it must be said that the right’s wilful and self-serving paranoia is only slightly less batty than progressives’ insistence that Trump’s close-run vote is due to pervasive “whiteness”. 

Whatever the limits of the progressives’ achievement, they at least have the satisfaction of being represented, being part of a process. Those who saw in Trump someone who represented them will feel that the politics of our era — that some speak and others have no access to it — has simply reasserted itself after a four-year interregnum.

Will they go somewhere else? Or has politics wholly changed again. We shall find out. Unless of course, and after much reversal, Trump wins after all and the malarkey begins again.