President Donald Trump continues to claim that the Democrats rigged the 2020 elections with the help of their supporters in various sectors, fostering an impression that American democracy is not real.
Many pollsters predicted a landslide victory for Democratic candidate and President-elect Joe Biden in November. But much to everyone's surprise, the election turned out to be a close fight, and President Donald Trump has challenged the results.
Trump’s allegations of voter fraud and his refusal to concede have made many pundits and politicians across the political spectrum nervous, triggering an uncomfortable debate in power circles that after nearly two and a half centuries, the people's mandate, which is the bedrock of American democracy, might be in danger.
Unlike any other contenders, through his furious tweets, which have been followed by more than 88 million people, Trump has continued to question the integrity of the elections, making 73 million Americans who voted for him suspicious of the results. Except for Biden, no other presidential candidate has received as many votes in the history of American elections.
A recent Politico poll has clearly shown that pattern. According to the group’s 2020 Voter Priorities Survey, nearly 80 percent of Trump voters think that the presidential election was stolen by anti-Trump forces.
In a country where voting is almost considered to be “a sacred obligation”, ensuring the integrity of the American political system and its peaceful transfer of power, the poll results appear to be a shocking reality to face.
Happy with the poll results, Trump praised them in one of his latest tweets: “They are 100% correct, but we are fighting hard. Our big lawsuit, which spells out in great detail all of the ballot fraud and more, will soon be filled.”
“RIGGED ELECTION!” he added, in his characteristic capital letters, indicating something seismic had happened before, during and after the historic election.
Some Americans have a tendency to tie the country’s superpower position to its democratic political nature, having a continuity from its founding to the present. For them, the Trump episode appears to be an unexpected disruption, making the American dream sound more like an American nightmare.
Biden, who has also received a record number of votes, amounting to more than 80 million, tried to assure the election-nervous nation over the fragility of democracy three days after the polls, as the blame game in Washington was in full swing.
“Democracy is sometimes messy, so sometimes it requires a little patience,” said 78-year-old Biden, who had lost two previous presidential nominations.
“But that patience has been rewarded now for more than 240 years with a system of governance that has been the envy of the world,” he assured.
“We continue to feel very good about where things stand," the president-elect added.
Crisis of democracy
But not everybody is so sure about that. The world’s leading democracies like Britain, France and Germany face increasing challenges ranging from the rise of far-right movements to Islamophobia and widespread financial difficulties.
“These crises of democracy did not occur randomly. Rather, they developed in the presence of one or more of four specific threats: political polarisation, conflict over who belongs in the political community, high and growing economic inequality, and excessive executive power,” wrote Suzanne Mettler and Robert C. Lieberman, two leading American political scientists in their book, Four Threats: The Recurring Crises of American Democracy.
“When those conditions are absent, democracy tends to flourish. When one or more of them are present, democracy is prone to decay,” penned Mettler, a senior professor of American institutions in the government department at Cornell University, and Lieberman, a professor of political science at Johns Hopkins University.
In a recent article, which was adapted from their book, the professors expressed serious concern that the health of the US democracy might be paralysed by the presence of these four factors.
“Today, for the first time in its history, the United States faces all four threats at the same time. It is this unprecedented confluence—more than the rise to power of any particular leader—that lies behind the contemporary crisis of American democracy,” the professors viewed.
“The threats have grown deeply entrenched, and they will likely persist and wreak havoc for some time to come,” they warned.
They also think that the combined effect of four factors could be worsened by leaders like Trump, who appears to play on identity politics, provoking divisions on various issues like migration and racial justice with his America First policy.
In addition to all, despite the pro-Biden media’s assertions, there have apparently been some irregularities and chaotic scenes across the US during the elections, making some experts urge to reform the way America does elections.
“Chaotic elections that have occurred during the pandemic, in Wisconsin and Georgia, for example, have underscored the heightened risk to U.S. democracy that the threats pose today,” the authors wrote in the article.
Prior to the elections, there were scenes across the US showing how people and corporations were boarding their shops and company entrances for possible post-election violence.
After Americans went to the polls, there were also escalating tensions as armed Trump supporters were protesting the results in Arizona’s Phoenix and other locations, debating with Biden supporters on the streets.
In the wake of the elections, even some Democrats have suggested that the nation’s election system should be reformed and modernised.
Julie Matuzak, Democratic board member in Michigan, where Trump has launched a legal battle to fight the results, suggested that the state's election system needed some kind of update, according to CNN, a pro-Biden media outlet. Matuzak voted to certify Biden’s win in Michigan despite her reservations.
Peaceful transfer of power
Soon after the election verdict was revealed, politicians and political commentators laid emphasis on the 'peaceful transfer of power', a highly touted concept and one of the core principles of democracies across the world.
They believe that Trump’s “baseless allegations of fraud”, a phrase used by the liberal media constantly, undermine the integrity of the country’s long-held democratic traditions concerning elections, preventing the peaceful transfer of power in an unprecedented fashion.
But Trump has already signalled, prior to the elections, that he is not committed to be replaced at ease. "Well, we'll have to see what happens," he said infamously, alarming both opponents and prominent establishment figures.
The peaceful transfer of power has not been enshrined in US constitution, but it has had a strong precedence since the country’s second President John Adams lost the elections to his opponent Thomas Jefferson in 1801.
But even Adams, one of the founding fathers, did not concede, choosing to leave Washington DC “under cover of darkness”, according to History.com, not attending the inauguration ceremony.
Trump signalled that he might do the same.
While he has recently allowed his administration to cooperate with Biden’s transition team, he shows no sign that he will concede the election to the President-elect.
“I concede NOTHING!!!!!”, he wrote in one of his recent tweets.