3 NOV 2020 The final furlong part III (US election)


Final furlong Part III

13 Nov, 2020 Votes are still being counted...

In the previous unit I tried to avoid discussing political issues and the very atmosphere of 2020 presidential election. This unit will be different. You will still be learning something new from the linguistic viewpoint but all this will be centered around facts and ideas. Four years ago we may have started from the final part of CNN film "Why Trump Won": 

As we’ve tried to show you in this hour America is now divided. Divided along four lines, each one reinforcing the other. Call them the four Cs. The first is capitalism. There was a time when the American economy moved in tandem with its middle class. As the economy grew, so did middle class employment and wages. But over the last few decades that link has been broken. The economy has been humming along, but it now enriches mostly those with education, training, and capital. The other Americans have been left behind. The second divide is about culture. In recent decades, we've seen large scale immigration; African-Americans and Hispanics rising to a more central place in society; gays being accorded equal rights. All of which has meant new cultures and narratives have gotten national attention. And this has worried a segment of the older, white population that fears that the national culture it grew up with is fading. One comprehensive study found that after party loyalty, the second strongest predictor of a Trump voter was "fears of cultural displacement." 

Think for a moment about the present-day America and go on watching the video:

The third divide in America today is about class. The Trump vote is in large part an act of class rebellion, a working class revolt against know-it-all elites who run the country. And these voters will stick with Donald Trump even as he flails, rather than vindicate the elite urban view of him. The final C in this story is communication. We’ve gone from an America where people watched three networks that provided a uniform view of the world to one where everyone can pick their own channel, message, and now even their own facts. All these forces have been at work for decades, but in recent years, the Republican Party has been better able to exploit them and identify itself with those Americans who feel frustrated, anxious, angry -- even desperate about the direction that the country is headed in. Donald Trump capitalized on these trends even more thoroughly, speaking openly to people's economic anxieties, cultural fears, and class rebellion. He promised simple solutions, mostly aimed at others -- Mexicans, Muslims, Chinese people and, of course, the elites and the media. It worked. He won. Whether his solutions are even enacted is another matter. But the real victory will come for this country when someone looks at these deep forces that are dividing it and tries to construct a politics that will bridge them. Rather than accept that America must remain a country split between two tribes -- each uncomprehending of the other, both bitter and hostile -- he or she would speak in a language that unites them. That kind of leadership would win not just elections - but a place of honor in American history.

To flail here means ‘to work diligently towards a goal, but to make no progress or to perform poorly’. You must have come across this word in the previous unit if you studied it attentively. It was used by CNN commentators to describe Republicans’ reaction to Biden’s victory. Moreover, if you were attentive, you remember what ‘rust belt states’ are. To understand why Trump lost 2020 election one has to analyze not only the atmosphere in American society but also the structure of the electoral base. In one of the previous videos ‘cultural differences’ were mentioned . America is not white and black like a chess board with the majority of white squares and very term ‘Latino voters’ is misleading. Watch the video and you will get the picture:

Last month I was here there was a bus tour that Donald Trump Jr did around Florida calling the Democrats socialists and communists and that kind of thing really sends alarm bells firing up Cuban Americans. - It’s because of the peculiar characteristics of the Hispanic vote in Florida. It’s not Mexican American, it is more varied, a lot of them have come from socialist countries, communist countries. They’re more inclined to the Republicans. None of that pertains to the rust belt. 

Write the names of at least two countries implied by the BBC reporter in the second part of the previous video. If you cannot, you will find the answer in the end of this unit (PS). What is the difference between the Latinos and Hispanics? These are the same groups of people: anyone born in Latin America (or having ancestors from it) and living in the USA. Oddly enough Spaniards from Europe are not included. There is much debate, though about the people from English-speaking Belize and Guyana and Dutch-speaking Suriname. Look at the map and try to memorize the locations of these countries:


Put a world map on the wall where you live and one day you will find realize that this helped you to understand the world and its language. For instance, you will see every day that Cuba is very close to Florida. Cubans knew it too and for decades tried to escape from the Communist paradise called by Soviet propaganda Freedom Island:

(I) took a nice life raft to Miami Beach, Florida. The only way to fly, let me tell you. It was almost 20 years ago. - Chico! Give me two Cuba Libres and a couple of beach towels. Here, come on, make it snappy. – Ha,ha. Here I am. It hasn’t been easy. You can do anything in this country if you want.

Cuba Libre is a popular cocktail but its name (Free Cuba) is more than 100 years old and has nothing to do with communist propaganda. US senator for Florida Marco Rubio(R) tried to run for President in 2016 and was defeated by Donald Trump. Quote from Marco Rubio's website: His parents came to America from Cuba in 1956 and earned their way to the middle class by working humble jobs. Rubio always liked to talk about his parents fleeing bloodthirsty communist dictatorship. All politicians lie a little bit: Rubio repeated his family's immigrant narrative — parents who fled Castro to make it as a bartender and a maid in Miami, who emphasized how the Land of Opportunity could make his own life different. “He used to tell me all the time: En este país, ustedes van a poder lograr todas las cosas que nosotros no pudimos,” Rubio said of his father. "That means, 'In this country, you will achieve all the things we never could.'" (Of course, Rubio, as usual, left out the part about his parents returning to Castro's Cuba for a time before coming back to Miami for good.) https://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/immigration-activists-drowned-out-marco-rubios-speech-outside-freedom-tower-7570263

For good=permanently

Anyway, let’s listen to him talk. He's good at it:

This election is a generational choice about what kind of country we will be. Now, just yesterday a leader from yesterday began a campaign for president by promising to take us back to yesterday. Yesterday is over. And we’re never going back. You see, we Americans are proud of our history. But our country has always been about the future. And before us now is the opportunity to author the greatest chapter yet in the amazing story of America. But we can't do that by going back to the leaders and ideas of the past. We must change the decisions we are making by changing the people who are making them. And so… That is why tonight grounded by the lessons of our history but inspired by the promise of our future I announce my candidacy for the president of the United States.

Donald Trump boasted of receiving “the highly honored Bay of Pigs award” from Cuban Americans living in Florida. Such award does not exist but you should know why Bay of Pigs is so important when we talk about Cuba and United States.

Let’s look now at the list of voters’ priorities and their troubles:

And the fracking issue is bigger in Pennsylvania than it is in Ohio. - The most important issue for voters: the economy 36%, racial inequality 22%, coronavirus 14%. And which is more important to do now containing coronavirus or rebuilding the economy? In Georgia, a slim majority says containing the coronavirus. 

There are other meanings of the word ‘issue’. Take, for instance, you passport and you will find the phrase ‘date of issue’ in it. TV reporters often use phrases like this:

This will remain of the thorny issues between Israelis and Palestinians. 

The majority of Joe Biden supporters in 2020 voted by mail. That is why the outcome of the election was not clear for several days after the Election Night. This delay frustrated many people though this is a normal legal process, especially when pandemic was ravaging the country. 

A delay just means our system is working and we are counting every single ballot. – And no matter who wins, let’s demonstrate the civility and decency that Minnesotans are known for. – Emily Brown, CNN.
…is a good thing in a democracy when we have more participation. That’s the goal, right?
Coronavirus, pandemic going on, people wanted different ways to be able to vote in a safe way. Especially older Americans, people with underlined health conditions. On Election Day they didn’t want to wait in long lines and take that risk. 

One of the meanings of the word ‘condition’: the physical or mental state of a person or animal

To underline means not only to draw a line under a word (in order to show its importance) but also ‘to emphasize’.

Readers may think that I was rooting for Joe Biden because I use these videos. This is not the case: I watch CNN just because they have better graphics. Sometimes CNN reporters sound quite reasonable:

Maybe, one thing we have learned from this pandemic is that the Secretaries of State made it easier for people to vote because they could do it from home, they could do it by absentee ballot and that ah…they were home they decided you know  what? They made my civic duty actually easier for me. And these are issues I care about. So, on one hand, it was more convenient, on the other hand, this is an important moment in American history.   

Not all US states have this position – Secretary of state. Not in Alaska, Hawaii and Utah, for instance, (they have lieutenant governors). The secretary of state is the primary custodian of important state records.

It’s time to give you something new from purely linguistic viewpoint:

Where is the outstanding vote? And what is the ratio of how that batch of votes is coming in? That’s where we see Joe Biden having an opportunity to meet or beat the President.

Outstanding is not only ‘good or excellent or ‘easy to notice’ but ‘not yet paid, solved or done’. Example: There are still a couple of problems outstanding. But the most interesting phrase in the previous video is ‘to meet or beat’. It’s not actually easy to find proper information about this phrase in internet but its meaning is clear: can Biden not only match Trump’s success but overcome him in the race? There some vulgar meanings in the Urban Dictionary too.

Let’s go to Nevada. The basic fact about this state is that this is the place where Las Vegas is located. There is a wonderful Hollywood movie called “Bugsy” about the very birth of this city.

"Bugsy" … is a great gangster picture, with all the visceral excitement of a classic mob saga. It's also a salute to old Hollywood glamour, to the genre and the movies in general, and an elegant eulogy for the passing of those glory days. Not since the "Godfather" films has a gangster movie had this kind of spirited intelligence and depth, or worked on so many levels. It's a lofty, intoxicating achievement, smoothly polished, thrilling and funny…(Washington Post December 20, 1991) Let us watch the scene from the movie where the idea of the city of casinos in the middle of Nevada desert first came to the head of movie’s main character. This myth is very popular in America about the origin of Sin City. 

- What is he doing? - Looking for a place to take a leak, I guess. - I got it! I got it. It came to me like a vision. - Like a religious epiphany. -  You’re not talking about God, are you, Ben? – I’m talking about the single best idea I ever had. - Yeah, well I just had the greatest single idea I ever had. - Isn't she magnificent? -  Yeah! Just what I was always looking for: a broad to leave alone me in the middle of the desert to drop dead to be eaten by vultures. – Becky, you will remember this day.

The difference between prostitute and broad is that prostitute is a woman who performs sexual activity for payment while broad is a woman of loose morals.

Let us go back to the present time in Nevada:

Think about Las Vegas. The rest of it is red (Republican), it is rural so these two places – Reno and Las Vegas – are very important in the coming days. Will it actually turn blue (Democrat), will Joe Biden pick up those electoral votes. These two places are known for casinos. But even if I were a gambling woman, I wouldn’t make a bet just yet.
And in Las Vegas, Nevada, the Trump supporters resorted to prayer: please let our luck change. Not the first time that prayers being offered in Sin City. 

Please pay attention to the music after the next BBC news fragment. It’s called March Of The Masses… I did it deliberately but may be you think this has nothing to do with the play on words in the beginning:

Of course, this kind of music was not pleasant for Trump’s ears:

March of the maths has been played out in small government buildings of windowless offices in Arizona, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Georgia. A thousand votes here, a few hundred there all the time chipping away of Donald Trump's grip of the White House.

to chip away = to to remove small pieces of something from a surface by hitting it

If you count the legal votes I easily win. If you count illegal votes, they can try to steal election from us. And we think we will win the election very easily, we think there’s going to be a lot of litigation because we have so much evidence, so much proof and it’s going to end up perhaps at Highest Court in the Land. – Astonishingly all the main networks pulled away before he’d finished. – OK, here we are again in the unusual position of not only interrupting the President of the United States but correcting the  President of the United States. This morning the President issued this statement: (on the screen).

Trump supporters also did not believe in his looming defeat:

What’s your evidence that this election is being stolen?
Trump accused media and polls of election interference:
That … President will hold to account a lot of the media pollsters who were wrong yet again.

Pollster = a person who asks people questions in an opinion

Hold to account = to require a person to explain or to accept responsibility for his or her actions; to blame or punish someone for what has occurred.

You heard the noun ‘litigation’ used in one of the previous videos. Now the adjective ‘litigious’:

This is classic Donald Trump. He did this from the beginning of his time as a private citizen in business. He is incredibly litigious.   

Litigious = too often taking arguments to a court of law for a decision.

They say United States is the most litigious society in the world.


Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia,Cuba

You surely know the word ‘judge’ but the chances are that you are not familiar with the word ‘justice’ meaning a title for a judge of the U.S. Supreme Court. It consists of the Chief Justice of the United States and several Associate Justices (the number fixed by Congress). In one of the previous videos you heard Trump saying ‘it’s going to end up perhaps at Highest Court in the Land’. He meant the Supreme Court. Justices remain in the Court until they die, retire, resign or are removed from office. When there is a vacancy, the president appoints a new Justice. He needs the consent of the Senate, though. You need to know all this to understand the meaning of such phrases:

And once we submit the overwhelming evidence of systematic voter fraud, all we have to do is count to five.

Trump appointed the new Justice in the end of October 2020 when legendary Ruth Bader Ginsburg died in September 2020 at the age of 87. Joe Biden immediately called Trump’s decision  "rushed and unprecedented" meaning that the appointment was supposed to be done not before but after the election. For the next four years both the Senate and the Supreme Court will be controlled by Republican Party. Find and read some information about the fundamental mechanism of CHECKS AND BALANCES and you understand what true democracy means. By the way, you will also not regret if you read about the life of the liberal icon Ruth Bader. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/18/us/ruth-bader-ginsburg-dead.html

You need to comprehend the meaning of the word “liberal” studying life in the United States. It has nothing to do with the word «либерал» in Russia. Even in Europe liberals are different from those in the USA. Try to understand the importance of the appointment of a new Justice before the elections. This is not academic talk for Americans. Not only voting controversies but such fundamental for ordinary people issues like abortions will be at stake… The next two videos will surely help you feel the difference between two philosophies, feel the difference between Democrats and Republicans (red and blue):

My grandfather like millions of other immigrants didn’t come here for some government guarantee of income equality or government benefits to take care of his family. In 1923 there were no government benefits for immigrants except one – freedom. Under President Obama the dream of freedom and opportunity has become a nightmare of dependency, that almost half of America receiving some sort of government assistance. Fewer and fewer Americans are achieving their dreams. In America we believe in freedom and the responsibility that comes with it: to work hard and make a dream of reaching of our God-given potential come true. We believe it; we believe it because it still works. John Kennedy asked us what we could do for America. This Democratic Party asked what can government give you.
We believe that freedom means keeping government out of our most private affairs including out of the woman’s decision whether to keep an unwanted pregnancy and everybody’s decision about whom to marry. - And today in Massachusetts you can marry whomever you love. - All that Republicans are saying is that if we just shrink government, cut taxes, crush unions and wait – all will be well. - And we believe that government has a role to play. Not in solving every problem in everybody’s life, but in helping people help themselves to the American dream.  

As you can see it’s all about freedoms – economic freedom and freedom of private life. Being an atheist I don’t like Republicans’ religious agenda but the foundation of the economy is a freedom of enterprise and this is where Republican thinking is more effective. Republicans don’t say anything against LGBT people openly but when comes to abortions they don’t conceal their views:

In America we believe in freedom and the responsibility that comes with it: to work hard and make a dream of reaching of our God-given potential come true. We believe it; we believe it because it still works.

Nothing rings the bell? Read the personal story of the speaker to get the full picture. Here’s the hard test for you: to find the error in Marco Rubio’s speech. And it’s not about grammar or pronunciation. It’s about the word order in a political sense:

I am writing these lines on 14th November,2020. Joe Biden is the PRESIDENT-ELECT:

A declaration that Joe Biden has won and that he is now the President-elect.

What Joe Biden’s victory means for Russia? You watched this video in the previous unit:

It could be a silver lining too, because some people here are saying that, perhaps, a Biden presidency will be more predictable.

Let’s use time machine for one minute:

Relations with UK are difficult to predict since Boris Johnson was once called by one of UK’s ministers “a Trump clone”. But I am sure not only personal “chemistry” is important to build good relationship between US and UK but their role in the world order.  

Yes, personal chemistry matters and we don’t really know what kind of chemistry Joe Biden and Boris Johnson might have because they’ve never actually met.  

This unit will be continued only for those who might be interested in my personal story. It’s about the ruined “chemistry” between two old friends because of their different political views. This video my friend David Richardson has recorded for me in the summer of 2020:

Did you hear “Kamala”? Maybe that is the answer…

Read about David in Tomsk here and please don’t ignore the button «конфликт»


There will be one more unit as I promised before. It is not only about our ruined friendship. It’s about the United States. One of my friends on Facebook after reading about us replied: «прикольно». 

Специализируемся на развитии навыков говорения и понимания реальной речи на слух. Используем только оригинальные материалы.