With less than 100 days until the presidential election, we are entitled to be worried about the trajectory for democracy in the US. There will be hell to pay if Donald Trump loses, and chaotic repercussions if he wins. The President’s railing against pandemic-inspired postal voting on Twitter — including an impossible suggestion to delay the election — has only heightened the tension. Trump throws fuel onto the flames of discontent to keep his base energised.
Source: Chris Kenny, News Corp
There will be hell to pay if Donald Trump loses, chaos if he wins
Days after Trump’s inauguration, when Madonna told a Washington DC protest that she had “thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House” most of us thought that it was just an ill-judged, rhetorical flourish. But three and a half years on, we see it was a pithy and prescient exposition of the liberal left’s strategy to defeat the President.
This attitude, at least as much as Trump’s prodding, has created an election year where democracy itself is being tested. At a time of significant economic, social, racial, health, strategic and political upheaval, America’s democratic instincts and institutions will be pushed to the limits.
Democracies are not designed to eradicate crises and conflicts but, rather, to absorb the strains and deal with them peacefully and fairly. The Great Republic has survived a civil war and other violent and divisive internal ructions, so we should have faith in its ability to withstand all this — but we should never be complacent.
It is a rich irony now to recall that during the 2016 campaign, when Trump argued the contest was rigged against him, he was asked whether he would unequivocally accept the result. The Republican candidate refused to provide the promise they demanded (just as he refuses now), saying only that he would accept the result if he won.
Hilariously in hindsight, Hillary Clinton and her media barrackers argued Trump would threaten democracy by refusing to concede. Because from the moment Trump won, the liberal left has railed against the result, attacked his legitimacy, and attempted to push him from office by fair means or foul.
From election night there were riots, protests, smashed windows and burned cars. Protests flared again around the inauguration, with many threats like Madonna’s and, before long, a comedian was parading a severed Trump head and a gallery of like-minded television talk show hosts had segued from comedy to politics so they could mock, ridicule and campaign against Trump nightly.
The Russiagate campaign was already underway, instigated by a Democrat dirt file, and pursued by the CIA and FBI while they served an outgoing Democrat president. Once Trump took up residence in The White House this conspiracy theory was relentlessly prosecuted on the vaguest of evidence by politicians and journalists, intent on ousting the President.
It culminated in the Mueller inquiry which proved enormously exciting for all the conspiracy theorists and those who became known as sufferers of Trump Derangement Syndrome, who talked about impeaching the President before he had even done anything. When, through the most convoluted and desperate series of political battles and investigations the claims of Russian collusion were revealed to be baseless, the Democrats and their media cheerleaders spun on a dime to advocate an impeachment push over obstruction of justice, and then dealings with Ukraine — anything would do.
Whether it was decade-old sexist remarks, hush payments to former dalliances, impeachment over Russia, obstruction of justice, or double dealing in Ukraine, the liberal left just wanted to be rid of Trump. They argued the electoral college was unfair, the polls were wrong or that the election should be decided on the national popular vote.
Every conceivable ex post facto justification has been marshalled to delegitimise this President. The only strategy was to blow Trump up.
This has always seemed a risky and needless political strategy because parties need to learn from defeat to deliver victory, and Trump’s lack of orthodoxy and coherence opened him to plenty of legitimate criticism even before he was sideswiped by COVID-19. Yet nothing has shaken the Democrats’ Trump obsession.
At no stage has there been acceptance from the political/media class that the Clinton campaign comprehensively failed in its mission, voters got it right and that the Democrats need to learn the lessons of the Trump-inspired rejection of politics-as-usual. Even now, the only discernible campaign message coming from Joe Biden’s camp is that they must rid the country of Trump — he is evil, immoral, reckless, stupid and all the rest of it.
They have made no adjustments in light of central political insight laid bare by Trump — the mainstream disaffection with a sclerotic Washington system fuelling a desire to shake up the political establishment. Trump has tried to drain the swamp, so the Democrats have unleashed the alligators.
The most revealing moment in Trump’s Fox News interview with Chris Wallace was when he accepted his own greatest vulnerability, while pointing out the negativity and singularity of his opponent’s attack, while highlighting a glimmer of hope in polling data. “The enthusiasm for Trump is through the roof even higher, even higher than last time,” the President said. “The enthusiasm for Biden is non-existent. Everyone knows he’s shot.”
Wallace sharply responded that the “enthusiasm against you is high”. Trump said, “Well that’s okay, that’s his only shot, and that’s his only shot. I agree.”
The Democrats wanted the election to be only about Trump. Do those who support him outnumber those who bear animus? But if Trump can make it about Biden, will that depress the Democrat vote sufficiently to keep his hopes alive?
Before the virus, it did not seem that the Democrats had constructed a worthy case. But the pandemic and the race-based riots arguably have been exacerbated by the President’s abrasiveness and dismissiveness, enabling Biden to move ahead in the polls.
Yet no serious observer could deny the US’s entrenched social schisms and administrative complications would have made all this a witches’ brew for any President. And that the political/media class has used every trick in the book to try to sheet all the blame home to Pennsylvania Avenue.
Let me share one clear example of the dishonesty of “the swamp” and the mainstream media. In the shadows of race riots in June there was a surprise reduction in the US unemployment rate and much of the media reported that Trump audaciously invoked an economic endorsement from the late George Floyd.
“But the President’s comments that George Floyd would be happy about rising job figures have been widely condemned,” reported Australia’s ABC coverage before running Trump’s words. “Hopefully George is looking down right now and saying this is a great thing that is happening for our country,” said the President.
The Guardian reported the story as “Revolting Trump condemned for saying George Floyd is praising US economy.” Biden condemned it, other media ran criticism and a Democrat spokesman called Trump’s comments “revolting, enraging, disrespectful”.
But it was fake news. Trump’s words were manipulated and the public misled. In fact, no reasonable person could fault what Trump said because he was talking about repairing the racial divide.
“Equal justice under the law must mean that every American receives equal treatment in every encounter with law enforcement, regardless of race, colour, gender, or creed,” said the President in the Rose Garden. “They have to receive fair treatment from law enforcement. They have to receive it. We all saw what happened last week. We can’t let that happen. Hopefully, George is looking down right now and saying, ‘This is a great thing that’s happening for our country’.”
Even the ABC has now admitted the deception, posting a correction this week following a number of complaints. “This was incorrect,” admitted the ABC. “President Trump’s reference to George Floyd was not related to rising job figures.”
Such misinformation is rife in the US where media antipathy towards the President has created a toxic environment of fake news where Trump’s legendary exaggerations and self-fascinated diatribes seem to have been taken as an excuse for journalists to relieve themselves of the burden of fair and accurate reporting. And this inflames the risk to democracy.
Voters notice this; they see through the tricks. Swathes of alienated and disenchanted mainstream Americans elected Trump, and they have seen the establishment and media relentlessly tear him down.
If Trump loses, they might see that Trump tried to clean up the cosy political/bureaucratic/media establishment and, instead, was unfairly destroyed by them. A Trump defeat might complete the alienation of an embittered constituency whose democratic choice was never accepted.
Some might conclude they can never win. It will confirm the worst fears of the wisely sceptical as well as those of the dangerously paranoid.
On the other hand, if Biden (or whoever runs for the Democrats) loses what has become the unlosable election, heaven knows what will unfold but it will certainly involve Antifa rioters. The political/media class never accepted the last result, so it is difficult to imagine them offering their loser’s consent this time.