The dis­qual­i­fied Don­ald Trump

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & COMMENTARY -

THERE USED to be a time in Ja­maica when there were sub­stan­tial flaws in our elec­tion sys­tems. The names of dead or oth­er­wise il­le­git­i­mate peo­ple ap­peared on the vot­ers’ regis­ter. In a hand­ful of con­stituen­cies, there was over­vot­ing and some­times bal­lot­box theft.

Yet, in the nearly three-quar­ters of a cen­tury since uni­ver­sal adult suf­frage, Ja­maica, even af­ter heated and, at times, vi­o­lent elec­tion cam­paigns, has man­aged the peace­ful trans­fer of power and change in govern­ment. It has hap­pened be­cause, de­spite the im­per­fec­tions of the sys­tem, there was wide­spread be­lief and ac­knowl­edge­ment that the out­come of the vote es­sen­tially re­flected the will of the peo­ple. In­deed, while they may mount le­gal chal­lenges against ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties in spe­cific rid­ings, lead­ers have not gen­er­ally de­rided the le­git­i­macy of elec­tions and their out­comes.

For nearly four decades now, Ja­maica has worked hard to fix its electoral sys­tem, in­spired in no small mea­sure by the United States and the tol­er­ance that is as­so­ci­ated with democ­racy. Un­til now, it has been hard, nigh im­pos­si­ble, to con­ceive of a con­tes­tant for the US pres­i­dency at­tempt­ing to un­der­mine the le­git­i­macy of the process.

UN­FIT FOR LEAD­ER­SHIP

But Amer­ica has never be­fore had Don­ald J. Trump, a real-es­tate devel­oper and real­ity-TV per­son­al­ity, seek­ing the job for which he is patently, in­tel­lec­tu­ally and tem­per­a­men­tally un­pre­pared and un­fit. In­deed, Mr Trump un­der­lined his dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion for the post dur­ing Wed­nes­day night’s third de­bate with his ri­val, Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton.

Mr Trump has re­cently claimed that the process has been “rigged” against him and has raised the spec­tre of voter fraud in cities with large in­ner-city com­mu­ni­ties or mostly black res­i­dents, con­tin­u­ing the racist dog whis­tle that has char­ac­terised his cam­paign. His po­si­tion on the le­git­i­macy of the elec­tion has been largely re­jected across Amer­ica’s di­vide. On Wed­nes­day night, the de­bate’s moder­a­tor, Chris Wal­lace, of­fered Mr Trump an op­por­tu­nity to en­gage in a ra­tio­nal re­view and hon­ourably re­treat from his stance and to pledge re­spect for the out­come of the vote.

His re­sponse: “I will look at it at the time. I am not think­ing of any­thing now.”

Pressed by Wal­lace on Amer­ica’s tra­di­tion of the loser con­ced­ing de­feat and the coun­try ral­ly­ing around the new pres­i­dent, Mr Trump re­fused to budge: “What I’m say­ing is, I’ll tell you at the time. I’ll keep you in sus­pense, okay?”

The pres­i­den­tial elec­tion will be on Novem­ber 8. We pre­sume that Mr Trump will en­dorse the out­come if he wins. We hope he doesn’t, in which the event we sus­pect that he will, if not to­tally re­ject the re­sult, en­gage in the pol­i­tics of griev­ance.

Ei­ther way has il­lu­mi­nated a dark side of Amer­ica and the Repub­li­can Party un­der whose ban­ner he is con­test­ing the elec­tion, if the United States is to sus­tain the moral author­ity that but­tresses its global pre­em­i­nence as an eco­nomic and mil­i­tary power. Its Jef­fer­so­nian ideas are as crit­i­cal to Amer­ica’s sta­tus and stature as the size of the GDP and its mil­i­tary in­fra­struc­ture.

But the Repub­li­cans have for more than two decades tol­er­ated, em­braced and are now in dan­ger of be­ing en­cased by an anti-in­tel­lec­tual, racist and xeno­pho­bic fringe that gives suc­cour to the likes of Don­ald J. Trump. It would be bad enough if this were an in­ter­nal prob­lem, but given Amer­ica’s global po­si­tion, it is a dan­ger to the world. How Wash­ing­ton, Adams, Jef­fer­son, Lin­coln and oth­ers must squirm in the graves!

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