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This is a new civil war: IAN BIRRELL hears from a supporter of Donald Trump in Joe Biden's home state


The atmosphere outside the Philadelphia counting center was lively, with balloons, banners and music and dozens of young people dancing in the street.

Joe Biden had just taken the lead in the Pennsylvania vote.

Next to me, two men laughed at a small crowd of Trump supporters cooped up behind a line of police officers.

"I enjoy seeing her upset and sad," admitted Dontaa McGlone, a 32-year-old banker and Biden voter.

“It's been about four years, especially with all the racist things. Now they have been beaten in a fair fight. & # 39;

The atmosphere outside the Philadelphia counting center was lively, with balloons, banners and music, and dozens of young people dancing in the street (pictured, people partying as soon as the election is due).

"We can pull ourselves together again," added McGlone before saying with a smile, "Tomorrow we can start healing – but today I'm really enjoying it."

A small moment that symbolized the big question that Biden and this bitterly divided country are faced with: Can the divided states of America come together when they appear to be divided in half by two warring tribes?

For the greatest power in the world, an optimistic nation is a darkly divided place.

It is populated with angry partisans who see the world in completely different terms, refer to each other as evil, and portray their enemies as either racists or communists.

Now throw Donald Trump's anger over alleged fraud into this flammable mixture while his lawyers cry badly and try to reverse the outcome.

"This election was definitely stolen," said Edward X. Young, who was a Trump supporter.

“We were called the silent majority, but we were too gentle, too polite. We will never stop fighting this betrayal. & # 39;

The horror film actor, who boasted of having attended 47 Trump rallies, told me he believed his hero was sent by God to save America.

"We are in the middle of the second civil war," he said.

The land of the free has become the land of fever.

What is clear now is that the American people have chosen a seedy political veteran – a Washington insider for more than half a century who is admired for his empathy after terrible personal tragedies – to help rebuild this troubled country.

Two men laughed at a small crowd of Trump supporters penned up behind a line of police officers (a female Trump supporter pictured).

Two men laughed at a small crowd of Trump supporters penned up behind a line of police officers (a female Trump supporter pictured).

As I traveled through Pennsylvania – one of the three main northeastern states that switched to Trump in 2016 before returning to the Democratic Group this time – these lesions in the heart of America were terrifyingly evident even in Biden's hometown.

Joseph Robinette Biden was born in Scranton in 1942 and lived in a then decaying coal town until he was ten.

His great-great-grandfather moved there from Ireland, and Biden makes much of his roots in Pennsylvania, even when he is visiting on election day.

"No matter where I've gone in life, I've always been guided by the values ​​Scranton taught me when I was young: hard work, belief and commitment to the middle class," he said.

Some locals are annoyed at Biden's portrayal of this rather affluent place as a "blue collar cartoon". But the street where he played as a boy is adorned with Biden banners.

"I'm just glad we can finally wake up from our nightmare," said Liz McDonald, cooking dinner for her six year old son in a house with a large Biden sign on the porch.

Then, while walking down this fancy street that was filled with manicured clapboards that cost up to £ 1 million, I met a man who gave me a terrifying glimpse into the corrosion of US society.

Tom Moran's house was distinguished by its defiant Trump flag. The 61-year-old, who works in the insurance industry and is married to a psychology professor, believes the president performed well.

"He was unique because he did what he said."

Moran stole four Trump signs, which he describes as "gross" in a democracy.

What's worse is that his three-year-old daughter was ostracized by neighbors.

“There are families here with young children, but she was disfellowshipped even though she played with them last summer. It is a terrible thing. & # 39;

I later met a web developer who was leaving his job at a nearby Catholic university. "I voted for Biden because Trump is absolutely angry," said Mark Pitely, who was particularly angry about the president's "cruel" immigration policy.

He told me that he could no longer discuss politics with his 81-year-old father, a Trump supporter and "committed Christians in the sweetest possible way" because they could not agree on basic facts. "He gets all of his stuff from the internet."

These are anything but isolated cases. Three women from different backgrounds told me that Trump's support cost them friends.

Valerie Firoina, 64, a Trump supporter from eastern Pennsylvania, says she saw five friends who broke up.

Days before the election, I met a single mother and former Democratic Party worker who had stopped speaking to her parents and 12 siblings after being loyal to Trump for rejecting abortion.

In the end, she moved to another part of the country to avoid family friction.

Certainly Trump's inflammatory style has exacerbated tensions fueled by social media, with the left sometimes falling into stupidity.

And now we see the leader of the most important democracy in the world trying to thwart the full vote count.

The truth, however, is that Trump is both a symptom and a cause of America's profound problems – and it is deeply worrying for any nation when families, friendships, and even child relationships are torn apart by tribal politics.

No wonder so many voters long for the feud to end.

"I hope Biden can begin to unite," said Lori Grady, 55, a teacher at Scranton.

“Everyone seems to be fighting and holding each other by their cervical vertebrae. We have never seen this in our lives. & # 39;

Make no mistake: this nation looks nervously over the abyss. It's not a civil war – but the fear of an explosion of serious unrest is growing every day.

Last month, 13 people were charged with plotting to start a civil war. These included those involved in an alleged conspiracy to kidnap the Michigan governor.

Confiscated videos showed gang members jumping out of cars and firing guns on training outings.

Two Virginia men were arrested Thursday for gun crimes after allegedly planning to attack the Philadelphia hall where the votes were counted. Pro-Trump protesters with guns have emerged at Arizona's census.

While speaking to mostly friendly Trump supporters outside the Philadelphia counting center, an aggressive young activist with two pals ordered me to move and asked me to show him permission.

"If you don't go, we'll push you out," he threatened. I called a police officer who said I could stay but suggested it was advisable to leave.

Despite all of Trump's blatant abuse on Twitter, his savage attacks on political enemies, and his depressing flirtations with the right, many of his followers show the subtle complexities of politics and the dangers of making random assumptions.

Take, for example, the single mother I spoke to. As a black woman in her mid-30s from California, she destroyed all the stereotypes of a Trump supporter.

And actor Edward X. Young, who wore Trump sneakers, had voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.

Valerie Firoina, who sees Trump as the best president of her life and calls leading Democrats "communists," supports statistical ideas such as government help with family problems and positive action to promote African American employment.

Also, notice how Republicans received support among Latino voters, allowing them to keep battlefield states like Florida and Texas under a man who labeled Mexicans "rapists" and was obsessed with building a border wall to keep them out.

Like Labor in the north of England, the Democrats took struggling voters in their heartland for granted – and were then stabbed when many turned to a populist underdog after industrial decline, financial collapse and a deadly drug epidemic.

The founder of a group promoting progressive politics called American Bridge said they spent $ 75 million (£ 57 million) during the campaign in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin trying to understand why people moved from Obama to Trump and then bombarded them with ads showing local people having made the move back to Biden.

They found that such voters had, on average, more than two jobs and were so busy that they only thought about politics four minutes a week – and the majority were women.

"We told them Trump was despicable, but these people had little faith in politics," said Bradley Beychok, president of American Bridge.

& # 39; Biden is a candidate for unity and compassion. People are fed up with the turbulence. & # 39;

Beychok said his group's campaign has shifted from relentless attacks on Trump to a focus on economic pressure – and believes the pandemic has helped their cause by fueling fears about jobs and health care while highlighting the president's incompetence.

Such embassies were successful in Scranton and the surrounding county.

Next door, Luzerne County, depicted as a symbol of Trump's success in 2016 in a book titled The Forgotten, swung another 15 points in his favor this time around.

Lucerne was once a democratic stronghold with coal mines and a strong trade union tradition where most of the residents are white and few have a college degree.

There are $ 500,000 houses on the hills, but poverty in the valleys, one resident told me.

As Biden won last night, some watched with dismay as the final ballot papers were reviewed at the Philadelphia counting center.

"This is the greatest travesty in our history," said Michael Kowalski, 73, a retired paint-spattered clothing software engineer I met outside a shop rental.

"I'm extremely madly angry."

The store's next customer was Rick Sarbaugh, 44, a former Bill Clinton supporter who uses disability benefits.

"I wish I had voted now," he says. “I would have voted for Trump because he is being robbed. I think there will be riots. With two children I am worried about the future. & # 39;

A few miles away in the town of Wilkes-Barre, I found Steven, an elevator engineer in his late 50s who supported Trump but despaired of all politicians.

He said, “I stopped watching TV and turned off my social media on Tuesday. Let them all fight it. & # 39;

Can Biden bring this country back together – especially when the hard left in his party is vocal, destructive protests routinely break out in big cities, and activists call for the police force to be de-financed after multiple murders of black citizens?

Only time can tell. But the omens are not good.

Philadelphia imposed a curfew two weeks ago after consecutive nights of protests against fatal police shots sparked looting and violence.

Across the country, Portland, Oregon had been marked by such unrest for months.

It would be an immense challenge for Biden, even if he were younger and more energetic.

His supporters argue that the big difference between him and Trump is that he will try to fix the divisions while adding some professionalism back to federal politics.

One thing was absolutely clear as I witnessed the factions and felt the friction in the touchstone state of Pennsylvania over the past few days: America does not feel in a healthy state, despite the desperate desire of many to restore a spirit of national togetherness.

"What frightens me most is that a democracy that has worked for 240 years is in trouble," said Vincent Cotrone, 58, a forest professional I met who was waiting for the hairdresser in Wilkes-Barre, his political Journey from Ronald Reagan to Ronald Reagan has taken Biden.

“There are great divisions, but we are one country and we have done amazing things in our history.

“I worry that people will cause serious harm to one another. We need to remember that we are all Americans. & # 39;

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