"Putin, in his two decades of power, has continued to try and advance Russia's influence and power at the expense of the US..."Kremlin.ru / Wikimedia Commons

In the last weeks, Donald Trump has picked out his latest victim in his sustained assault upon democratic electoral processes: the transition of power. A crucial cog in the realisation of democracy, a smooth transition of power allows for stability and gives the President-Elect’s administration time to prepare for their term in office. Donald Trump is currently blocking this process, as the Republican administration construct an alternative reality in which America remained red and he won – by a lot! Mr Trump’s certainty that he won is based upon the faith in his own unique power of insight into the public psyche, a power that cannot be undermined by a mere act of counting the votes of Americans. To Donald Trump, the five million votes that have propelled Biden into power are simply a hurdle for him to leap over in his attempted coup to hold on to power. But Trump’s brazen attempts to remain President of the ‘Land of the Free’ are not just an attack upon Joe Biden. Trump’s behaviour constitutes a war upon America’s safety as a nation, the role of democracy in American politics, and the power of the rational values that are intended to govern democracy globally.

“Trump’s assertion of a false reality could lead to damning, tangible consequences.”

This latest advance in Trump vs. Democracy should come as no surprise to us. Trump and his followers have increasingly cast democracy as their enemy. In March, when House Democrats proposed vote-by-mail options, same-day registration, and expanded early voting — a package Republicans blocked — President Donald Trump told the Fox & Friends hosts, “They had things, levels of voting, that if you’d ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.” Senator Mike Lee tweeted: “Democracy isn’t the objective; liberty, peace, and prosperity [sic] are.” The Republican Party has been aware for a while that legitimate democracy is unlikely to grant them power, and their actions have reflected this insecurity. Their techniques have gone far beyond simply slandering democracy’s name. The Republican administration has gerrymandered congressional states and suppressed likely Democratic voices through declaring the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional. They have butchered the Supreme Court, epitomised through their refusal to hold hearings on Obama’s nominee in 2016 on the pretext that the next president should make the appointment and then brazenly rushing through Trump’s appointment of Amy Coney Barrett just days before the 2020 election. However, the absurd predictability of a President clamouring to “Stop the count!”, thus rejecting the role of democracy in the US election, cannot be dismissed as another funny example of insanity radiating out of the Oval Office. Trump’s assertion of a false reality could lead to damning, tangible consequences.

“Trump’s refusal to honour the electoral process is crippling America’s resilience to this virus and places American lives in unnecessary danger.”

In refusing to allow Biden to prepare for presidency, Trump immediately places the health of his nation at risk. Biden’s COVID advisory panel remain barred from communicating with US government health officials and the White House COVID Taskforce. This communication between outgoing and incoming administrations is usually authorised by a letter of ‘ascertainment’, issued by the General Services Administration, which legitimises Biden as the winner of the election. Trump’s refusal to concede means that no such letter has been produced, meaning no contact can occur between Biden and government officials. This compromises Biden’s attempts to prepare to combat the coronavirus crisis that Trump has never taken seriously enough. He has reportedly not attended a coronavirus task force meeting for months. This is made all the more deadly by the current surge in coronavirus that is occurring in the US, as deaths increase in 31 states. Biden is left unable to work out the logistics of distributing a vaccine or to assess information on stockpiles of essential protective equipment for health workers. Trump’s refusal to honour the electoral process is crippling America’s resilience to this virus and places American lives in unnecessary danger.

Americans are not the only ones at risk of death thanks to Donald Trump: democracy globally is being battered and bruised by Republican assertions of victory. The USA, with its roseate affirmations of freedom and prosperity, has long been an example to newly democratic states of how to preserve peace and ensure freedom. A smooth transition of power is one of the most important elements of developing democracies, and one of the hardest to maintain. Hopefully, in the US, constitutional frameworks and augmenting shouts from the Republican camp for Trump to concede will make Trump’s attempted coup broadly non-consequential. However, in states without such provisions, ones which are only just learning the rules of democracy, stubborn electoral losers could lead to catastrophic consequences following Trump’s precedent. Trump calling the process of democracy into question globally renders the machinations of democracy weak and unstable. Without the luxury of democratic precedents and conventions, nations which copy Trump in refusing to acknowledge democracy and enable the transition of power could fall into violence and unrest – a fate which is not impossible in America. The weakening of the moral authority of this example of democracy is a welcome gift to the world’s autocrats. Putin, in his two decades of power, has continued to try and advance Russia’s influence and power at the expense of the US by dishonouring and sullying its institutions and values, undermining trust in global democratic systems. In refusing to lose, Trump continues this endeavour for the Russian President.


Mountain View

The war for America’s soul won’t end with a Biden win

While we are distracted by the spread of COVID-19, the pandemic of autocracy is spreading through the globe, spearheaded by Russia and China, as immigrants are turned away in Hungary, the liberties of women and the LGBTQ+ community are suppressed in Poland and Brazil’s ‘Trump of the Tropics’ continues to rule by tantrum. We must defend and strengthen our democratic institutions against this disease of modern authoritarianism, or risk authoritarianism becoming the new hegemonic world order.