‘Failed Republic’, ‘Anarchy’: Fear & Menace Ahead Of US Elections

There’s talk of US becoming a ‘failed republic’, engulfed by anarchy after the vote if the verdict is not clear. 

Updated
Opinion
5 min read
Image of Joe Biden (L) and Trump (R), with a picture representing anarchy /violence as the backdrop – to symbolise the essence of the article.
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Alarming as it might sound, Americans are increasingly afraid that the 2020 presidential election may not be free and fair. They are worried the country might be thrown into a constitutional crisis with a ‘trainload of lawsuits’ and accusations of foul play.

To be sure, we are not talking about elections in Belarus or Pakistan but in the United States of America.

There’s talk of America becoming a ‘failed republic’, engulfed by anarchy and street violence after the vote if the verdict is not clear. Of the country’s complex election mechanism getting gummed up with partisans trying to steal by way of bureaucratic games what they didn’t get at the ballot box.

Trump Actively Trying To Undermine People’s Faith In Election Process

American democracy suffers from a few stark structural flaws, which are talked about at election time but never addressed once a new president is in the White House. The Electoral College tops the list of problems – where a candidate can win the popular vote but still lose the election – because of the exotic ways in which the process works.

Add to the list campaign donations and excessive spending and gerrymandering – when the boundaries of an electoral constituency are delineated to favour one party – and American democracy seems already manipulated to suit some, and not the majority.

Under Trump, Congressional oversight has weakened with his own party refusing to rein in his wilder instincts.

He routinely fires officials – even those he himself appointed – if they show a streak of independent thinking. The president encourages conspiracy theories, sows doubts and often implies that the only fair election would be the one in which he wins.

Trump has already questioned the validity of mail-in ballots, talked of a ‘rigged’ and ‘stolen’ election, and laid the ground for doubts.

Even if 50 percent of it is ‘Trump talk’, the fact that a serving president is actively trying to undermine the people’s faith in the election process has shaken the Democrats and even Republicans.

Snapshot
  • There’s talk of America becoming a ‘failed republic’, engulfed by anarchy and street violence after the vote if the verdict is not clear.
  • Of the country’s complex election mechanism getting gummed up with partisans trying to steal by way of bureaucratic games what they didn’t get at the ballot box.
  • Under Trump, Congressional oversight has weakened with his own party refusing to rein in his wilder instincts.
  • Trump has already questioned the validity of mail-in ballots, talked of a ‘rigged’ and ‘stolen’ election, and laid the ground for doubts.
  • The top military brass in the Pentagon is apparently worried that Trump might send them out on the streets to quell violence, if rival mobs are locked in a face-off.
  • This unusual debate is taking place as America fights a losing battle against the pandemic and reels under continuing protests for racial justice for the last four months.
  • Voting in this election is crucial, and how Americans decide to vote is equally important – in person or by mail. The method of voting itself has become political.
  • In-person votes will be counted first and may show Trump winning because Republicans are more likely to go physically to the polling states, according to polls.

Why US Army Insists Upon An ‘Apolitical US Military’

Last Wednesday, Trump refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power in case he loses causing a national shudder. “Well, we are going to have to see what happens,” he said. Republican senators were forced to contradict him, albeit their statements were not ringing by any stretch.

The top military brass in the Pentagon is apparently worried that Trump might send them out on the streets to quell violence, if rival mobs are locked in a face-off.

The generals want to stay far away from domestic unrest and are busy putting distance between the institution and the president.

Gen Mark A Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the House of Representatives last week that he believed “deeply in the principle of an apolitical US military.”

This unusual debate is taking place as America fights a losing battle against the pandemic and reels under continuing protests for racial justice for the last four months. More than 200,000 Americans have died of COVID-19, and with the onset of winter and the regular flu season, the situation will likely worsen.

A Climate Of Menace As Americans Go To Vote On 3 November

Voting in this election is crucial, and how Americans decide to vote is equally important – in person or by mail. The method of voting itself has become political.

In-person votes will be counted first and may show Trump winning because Republicans are more likely to go physically to the polling states, according to polls.

Democrats have advantage in mail-in ballots, which will take days to count and certify. They fear Trump would declare victory based on early counts, forcing them to go to the courts. In other words, it will be a mess.

Republicans are enlisting thousands of volunteers in battleground states to ‘guard’ polling stations and prevent fraud. Trump wants his supporters to be ‘poll watchers’ to prevent “all the thieving and stealing and robbing they (Democrats) do.” He has talked of ‘sheriffs’ and law enforcement officials monitoring the process on his behalf.

A climate of menace will hang in the air as Americans go to the polls on 3 November.

“We are in terrible danger. Make no mistake. This country, already uncivil, is on the precipice of being ungovernable…,” wrote Frank Bruni, a prominent New York Times columnist.

How Trump Got the Supreme Court On ‘His Side’

While some of the worst-case scenarios seem unrealistic, the very fact that Americans are debating dire possibilities is significant, and Trump has given them cause. If results are disputed and end up in the courts, hanging over the legal battles would be the canopy of 200 conservative judges at various levels appointed by Trump over the past four years.

He nominated Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court justice’s seat on Saturday to replace Ruth Bader Ginsberg, the liberal justice who died on 18 September, giving the president a third seat on the court to fill with a conservative.

Democrats are powerless to stop him since Republicans control the Senate, the body that confirms the nominee.

Republicans have no problems going against the rule they themselves made when they denied former President Barack Obama the opportunity to name a Supreme Court justice, arguing it should be done after the 2016 election. The election was 10 months away.

But today with barely a month to go, the Republican-controlled Senate is expected to confirm Barrett before voting day.

Getting to name three Supreme Court justices in four years is a record of sorts. If Trump succeeds in getting his nominee confirmed before the election, he will have ensured a conservative majority that would last for decades since Supreme Court justices don’t retire.

The extreme angularities of American democracy are on full display in 2020. The problem is that the US Constitution allows Republicans these advantages even though the majority popular opinion is with the Democrats.

(The writer is a senior Washington-based journalist. She can be reached at @seemasirohi. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)

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