“I really didn’t appreciate all those outside people coming into my neighbourhood, my city and causing problems, looting and carrying on. I had a three-hour commute to work because they shut the whole place down. It’s a pandemic and we’re shutting down churches, but not this?”

My large household lives all around the US, and between them maintain wildly totally different political beliefs. One uncle carries a cherished copy of the US structure wherever he goes. A cousin is extra prone to be discovered burning the American flag within the West Bank. Some have marched towards the infinite wars. Others have served for many years within the army.

But I may at all times rely on them for one factor: an correct prediction of who was going to win the next election. When we gathered in North Carolina every summer season earlier than the vote, I’d hunt down the handful of swing voters amongst us and I’d be left in little question. Kerry was headed for failure in 2004. Obama would take the White House in 2008 and preserve it 4 years later. They’d by no means let me down.

But in 2016, bizarre issues began taking place. My late grandmother in South Carolina had dutifully voted for each Republican since Eisenhower. Now, she was voting for her canine. My younger cousin from Seattle – who I quote above talking in regards to the Black Lives Matter protests there – had initially backed Bernie. Then he voted for Trump.

Even although the nationwide polls weren’t incorrect, most pundits missed these subterranean shifts – thereby failing to foretell the one consequence that mattered: the Electoral College.

This time around the polls once more say the Democrat will win, by a far wider margin. But even when this is right, what are we lacking? What forces are persevering with to maneuver beneath our ft?

I’m travelling throughout the important thing swing states of Ohio and Pennsylvania and into the Republican heartland of Kentucky to try to discover out. (You can follow me here for dwell updates.)

Here are some issues I’ve discovered already.

Many Trump voters are extremely educated. Many are atheists; many extra again authorized, protected abortions. Many imagine in local weather change. They assist homosexual marriage and a spread of different rights for LGBTIQ folks. They go to quite a lot of sources for his or her information, and lots of fact-check them.

Top amongst their causes for supporting Trump is that he’s the primary president of their reminiscence who hasn’t began any new wars; as an alternative, he’s introduced troops house. They suppose one thing ought to be accomplished about local weather change, sure – however they place a premium on US ‘energy independence’. Above all, they don’t need their nation to rely Saudi or Russian oil.

While many suppose abortion ought to be protected and authorized, they have a tendency to not assist federal authorities funding for it. And, right here’s the crux of it: they don’t suppose the federal government ought to be funding a lot of something in any respect.

Again and once more they’ve advised me: “Trump did what he said he’d do.” That has meant tax cuts and elevated army spending whereas taking an axe to the remainder of authorities. And international isolationism.

I lately spoke with Brian Hughes at American University in Washington DC. He’s an skilled on far-Right militia actions. What he advised me rings true not simply in regards to the extremist fringes – but additionally in regards to the myths about freedom which can be woven deep into the soul of (White) America. For centuries, he factors out, ‘freedom’ has meant the proper to use and colonise ever-expanding frontiers of land, assets and folks:

Millions throughout the nation say they need the federal government out of their lives, as a result of for them this ‘freedom’ from overweening authorities (or from Communists, terrorists, China) echoes these foundational myths about what it is to be American.

It explains why so lots of the White Americans I’ve spoken to insist that Black lives do matter to them; that they assist racial equality. Yet they will vehemently deny that structural racism exists. As Craig, from Florida, put it to me: “My ‘white privilege’ didn’t knock on the door and hand me a pile of cash, a degree, a car, and solve all of my problems. I was on my own, and I joined the army to make something of myself.”

Trouble is, there aren’t any extra frontiers. Many of the identical individuals who deride authorities and cherish ‘freedom’ additionally need their president to offer jobs that aren’t coming again. They need inexpensive healthcare. And they need wide-ranging protections from the ravages of globalisation.

It’s typically been mentioned that Trump offers voice to the fad and insecurity of a slowly dying empire. That’s true. But he’s additionally not been terribly good at it. He has no reply for suburban mums other than to beg for his or her votes. I’ve spoken with Republican-backing Wall Street executives whose financial pursuits lie squarely with voting for Trump however can’t convey themselves to. Yesterday in New Jersey I met a lifelong Republican voter who’s voting for Biden simply to cease the insanity. (He identified that Trump’s a horrible businessman too, as anybody from ‘Jersey is aware of – his casinos “all went bankrupt”.)

People from all walks of life have mentioned to me over the previous weeks and months: “I didn’t leave the Republican Party. The Republican Party left me”.

The hazard now appears much less that Biden loses, and extra {that a} far-Right chief who’s way more competent than Trump emerges inside the next 4 to eight years. A pacesetter who will capitalise on the long-lasting injury attributable to the pandemic, and who’s smarter about leveraging myths of American ‘freedom’ to oppress and exploit others. Someone who extra efficiently pigeonholes the Democrats because the celebration of the wealthy elite, which is what they’re more and more turning into. As Biden infamously advised rich New York donors at a fundraiser in June, “nothing will fundamentally change” if he’s elected.

Last evening I met a lady from Halifax, Pennsylvania. She’s a hardworking mum and a registered Democrat on this vital swing state. Who’s she voting for? The Libertarian candidate Jo Jorgensen. Because: “Fuck ‘em all”.