Philadelphia is a microcosm of a divided America

The scene outside the counting hall in Philadelphia is a microcosm of a divided America.

On one side you have Joe Biden supporters celebrating and throwing a party – a DJ set up on the sidewalk surrounded by people dancing.

On the other you have devoted Donald Trump supporters feeling angry and robbed at what they view to be a stolen election.

Between the two sides is a line of police forming a barrier with their bicycles.

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As Joe Biden’s lead grew in Pennsylvania, so did the crowd and tension outside the convention centre in Philadelphia.

Police have been prepared for this and shops and businesses in the area are boarded up in anticipation of any unrest.

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There’s such a big police presence here it’s unlikely things will kick off.

The National Guard are in town too protecting the City Hall.

But it’s a saddening moment to see American politics so polarised that people with opposing views need to be separated by police.

This is not a time for Democrats to gloat.

America is in desperate need of healing.

But it’s hard to see how unity will be achieved when Donald Trump’s supporters believe his every claim that illegal votes are the reason he is losing the election.

Walt was surrounded by “stop the steal” placards when I met him and asked if he could find it in himself to accept the result if the courts were to offer reassurance there had been no widespread fraud.

He said: “Absolutely. We live in a democracy but the key fact is there is corruption going on here. There is.

“So if we were guaranteed it was fair. I don’t know how you’re going to do that with everything that is going on.”

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Trump ‘needs to put his big boy pants on’

For as long as the president is alleging otherwise, it’s hard to see how there will be a resolution here.

We could have known the result in Pennsylvania before now had postal votes been allowed to be counted before Election Day.

Instead, on-the-day ballots had to be calculated first under state electoral rules which revealed a Trump lead.

That margin has evaporated in Pennsylvania as mail-in ballots were tabulated.

Democrats were more likely to vote by mail but Donald Trump has used his early lead as an opportunity to cry foul and fraud.

The Trump campaign’s requests to discount postal votes by filing legal challenges in battleground states seem desperate attempts to delay the inevitable.

Donald Trump lost court rulings in three states just yesterday.

A small number of ballots are being called into question and they would be unlikely to make any material difference to Joe Biden’s current trajectory.

The more defining consequence of these legal disputes is an erosion of trust in America’s democracy.

Donald Trump’s repeated calls to “Stop The Count” may well have inspired an armed man to drive to Pennsylvania last night allegedly plotting to stop vote counters in the convention centre – the suspect now in police custody.

Donald Trump’s time in the White House may soon be over – but to the bitter end he is sewing dangerous distrust and division.

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Tensions flare outside Philadelphia count

There will be no gracious concession speech.

No unifying message.

Alleging the election has been stolen from him, a parting gift on a country battered and bruised after a traumatic year.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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