By Mohammad Mazhari

A bizarre election: American democracy at dead end

September 27, 2020 - 23:59

U.S. election will be on the line this November, but what about the American democracy? Trump's policies and statements not only have dangerously made America's democratic health hang in the balance but also the country's integrity as a whole.

Many consider Trump as a very example of a politician who values and respects no moral principles and is so narcissistic and power-hungry that it is hard for him to imagine leaving the White House. From such a perspective, it seems that the upcoming election may prove more critical and controversial than the previous ones.

When asked during a press briefing at the White House on September 23 about it, Trump replied: "We're going to have to see what happens, you know that. I've been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster," according to the Guardian. 

Trump refused to commit when asked again: "Get rid of the ballots, and you'll have a very peaceful – there won't be a transfer, frankly. There will be a continuation. The ballots are out of control. You know it. And you know who knows it better than anybody else? The Democrats know it better than anybody else."

Critics say Trump wants to maintain his power and will use every means to stay at the White House, even if it leads to a deep split in the American society or a civil war.

"The only way they can take this election away from us is if this is a rigged election," Trump said at the Republican National Convention on August 24. 

Unless he wins a bona fide victory in the Electoral College, Trump looks determined to refuse to concede, and his mere denial of defeat may have cascading repercussions.

In such a situation, it is natural for the American society to be in a panic about the future of the country because, in case of a civil war, all eyes will be on the army. That is why top generals in the Pentagon have expressed their concerns about if Trump orders the active-duty military into the streets to quell protests after the presidential election.

General Mark Milley of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in remarks released last month, made clear that the U.S. military is determined not to play a role in resolving the dispute over election results.

"I believe deeply in the principle of an apolitical U.S. military," Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in written answers to questions from House lawmakers released last month. "In the event of a dispute over some aspect of the elections, by law, U.S. courts and the U.S. Congress are required to resolve any disputes, not the U.S. military. I foresee no role for the U.S. armed forces in this process."

On August 11, John Nagl and Paul Yingling, both retired Army officers and Iraq war veterans, published an open letter to General Milley on the website Defense One. 

"In a few months' time, you may have to choose between defying a lawless president or betraying your constitutional oath," they wrote. "If Donald Trump refuses to leave the office at the expiration of his constitutional term, the United States military must remove him by force, and you must give that order."

Meanwhile, Trump gave officials no solace when he refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power no matter who wins the election.

 On Thursday, he doubled down by saying he was not sure the election could be "honest." His hedging, along with his expressed desire in June to invoke the 1807 Insurrection Act to send active-duty troops onto American streets to quell protests over the killing of George Floyd, has caused deep anxiety among senior military and Defense Department leaders, who insist they will do all they can to keep the armed forces out of the elections.

Despite statements by Pentagon spokesman Brooke DeWalt who said last Thursday that the Department of Defense has no role to play in the post-election transfer of power, experts predict that Trump may use the "insurgency law" to deploy military officers on the streets to suppress the protestors amid controversial election results. 

The Insurrection Act is a federal law that enables the President to deploy U.S. Federal Army personnel in special circumstances, such as the suppression of disorder and insurgency within cities.

Not to mention that Trump and the Republican Party will not accept the result of the elections, there are reports that the Democrats may refuse to accept the election results if Trump wins.

At the same time, there have been reports of renewed anti-racist protests in U.S. cities after a grand jury's decision on Wednesday not to bring charges related to Breonna Taylor's death against the police officers.

Breonna Taylor was a black female who was killed in the city of Louisville. 

In New York, anti-racism protesters block Brooklyn Bridge during the Breonna Taylor demonstration and demanded justice for the black woman killed by police.

The recent consecutive events reveal America's true face, which was once a dreamland for those who look for a democracy. It seems that the November American elections will turn into a nightmare if both nominees or even one of them reject the results. In that case, it will undermine conceptions like the "American dream" and "great America".

The upcoming danger is not merely that the 2020 election will bring political and social split. Americans fear something worse may happen. The country is facing highly serious challenges, such as the coronavirus pandemic, a reckless psycho leader, deep-rooted racial discrimination, and a failed political system that is apt to resort to violent acts against protests. These are enough to overthrow empires or superpowers. 

"From Myanmar to Canada, people are asking: How did a superpower allow itself to be felled by a virus? And why won't the president commit to a peaceful transition of power?" according to the New York Times.

We should take warning by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman seriously when he declared on Thursday that the U.S. could be headed toward a second civil war following Trump's comments around not carrying out a peaceful transition of power should he lose in November.

"You know, I began my career as a journalist covering Lebanon's second civil war in its history, and I'm terrified to find myself ending my career as a journalist covering America's potential second civil war in its history," Friedman said.


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