You’d think the world had come to an end. Anguished commentators have reacted to the US election as though it heralds the end of liberal democracy as we know it. The result was undeniably dramatic and will have consequences we can’t foresee. But I think the explanation for it is rather more prosaic: like every electorate everywhere in the world, American voters had a choice of imperfect outcomes, and they took a deep breath and made it. As is always the case, some are horrified by the voters’ decision – but their grief has carried them away, and is preventing them from learning the right lesson from Donald Trump’s victory.
In just over a decade of research, I have made something of a study of how losing political movements react to defeat. Though circumstances differ, most have one thing in common: they claim, at least inwardly, a moral victory.