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Optimism emerges from fraught US election

Democracy has done its work. It may have kept Americans, and many around the world, in nail-biting suspense for days, and it may have been smeared by some who should know better, but it got the job done. The next president of the United States, Joe Biden, has won what appears to have been a largely free and fair election. The people have spoken, and it’s a moment to celebrate that founding principle of a democratic nation.

The election certainly had its challenges. A raging pandemic, the threat of overseas interference and a fractious and bitterly divided nation put America’s electoral system under enormous strain. But people on both sides of the aisle voted in unprecedented numbers, in a largely respectful manner.

Kamala Harris and Joe Biden celebrate their victory.

Kamala Harris and Joe Biden celebrate their victory.Credit:AP

And for all the fears of the streets being overrun by civil unrest when the election result was called, whichever side came out ahead, the images broadcast from cities across the country overwhelmingly revealed people celebrating the decision in a joyous and peaceful manner.

That is not to say everyone has been gracious in defeat. True to type, Donald Trump is flouting convention. Showing no sign of conceding, he is said to still be mustering his forces to battle it out in the courts. But there should be little concern that he will hunker down in the White House past his time. While he may admire some of the world’s autocrats and dictators, America’s constitution ensures he has limited access to the military or judicial powers that could extend his stay. His Twitter tirades amplifying baseless accusations of election fraud are no match for the inevitable transition of power.

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