The downfall of democracy? Trump won’t diffuse that fear
“Many lives change like that. All of a sudden, and forever.” The above is a line from one of my all-time favorite novels, “The Years of Rice and Salt” by Kim Stanley Robinson. It’s one of those love it or hate it books. (Why? It’s like 900 pages of alternate history imagining a world where the Black Death wiped out 99% of Europe, meaning Chinese and Muslim factions came to rule the world, and you follow three main characters through 700 years of history, as they get reincarnated without their knowledge. Again: Love it or hate it. Anyway ...)
Anyway, that line always stuck with me, mostly because it’s true. Has it happened to you? To someone you know? Either for good or ill, many lives do change on a dime, and the results last forever.
Well, I feel like that line can apply to our little American democratic experiment as well. *****
The following happened Wednesday at a White House press conference:
REPORTER: Mr. President, real quickly, win, lose, or draw in this election, will you commit here, today, for a peaceful transferral of power after the election? There has been rioting in Louisville, rioting in many cities across this country. Red, and your so-called red and blue states. Will you commit to a peaceful transferral of power after the election?
TRUMP: Well we’re going to have to see what happens. As you know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster and
REPORTER: I understand that but people are rioting. Do you commit to making sure
TRUMP: I know, I know
REPORTER: -there is a peaceful transferral of power?
TRUMP: Get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very transfer, we’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 anyone else? The Democrats know it better than anyone else. *****
Of course, everyone jumped on this. The Atlantic, as it turns out, had a story already written about how Team Trump is scheming behind the scenes to throw this election into chaos in an effort to potentially steal the office of the presidency. A Slate. com article about all this is titled “I’ve Never Been More Worried About American Democracy Than I Am Right Now” written by a professor of law and political science at the University of California–Irvine School of Law.
Make no mistake: Love him or hate him, Trump will seek ways to hold on to the presidency, and he will use every tool at his disposal to do so.
In no scenario can I see Trump saying, “Well, we gave it our best. Here’s the keys, Joe.” *****
It’s all too easy to throw around the “facist” moniker when talking about Trump. Of course, it’s nonsense. Maybe he’s got some tendencies about him that dovetail a bit with the facist definition, but this is America, this is a democracy, we don’t need to worry about facism.
By the way, courtesy of Merriam-Webster, here’s the definition of facsim: a political philosophy, movement, or regime that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.
I mean, if it walks like a duck This election is the most important presidential election in American history. Of course, we were also told that in 2016, and 2012, and 2008, and 2004, and 2000 …
So no. I’m not going to say this election is the most important election in American history.
But I will say this: This election may very well turn out to be the most important test of our democracy and our laws in American history. Hanging chads were tiddlywinks compared to what we’re looking at right now.
Maybe you think I’m overselling this, maybe you think this is a bunch of nonsense. Or maybe you don’t.
Either way, it’s worth remembering that sometimes, when you’re not even paying attention, things change. All of a sudden and forever.
President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, in Washington.