National Post (Latest Edition)

Democracy and rule of law on the line in U.S.

- Diane Francis

Futures markets bumbled along during the American presidenti­al debate on Tuesday, then turned down abruptly when President Donald Trump said that the postal system’s incompeten­ce will delay the election results. “We might not know for months,” he threatened. “This is not going to end well.”

With these words, Trump betrayed his strategy: to hobble the United States Postal Service and delegitimi­ze the election process. He is not a president but a saboteur and, if he’s not already on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s payroll, he should be. He’s a Big Apple hustler, flanked by unethical lawyers and shadowy lenders who’ve enabled his grift.

The tragedy of America’s democracy is that the Republican party failed to perform any due diligence before nominating him. Worse, Republican­s only needed to listen to their fellow Republican, and selfmade billionair­e, Michael Bloomberg, who warned the public: “The bottom line is: Trump is a risky, reckless and radical choice. Let’s elect a sane, competent person.”

His diagnosis was spot on, and Trump’s unhinged debate performanc­e proved it. He was so out of control that Americans and the world were finally rattled. Ever since, Joe Biden’s odds have improved markedly. Even the Wall Street Journal, Trump’s favourite Fox News morning host and some Republican­s facing tough election contests, including Mitch Mcconnell, have criticized the president’s performanc­e, namely for refusing to denounce white supremacy.

For 90 minutes, Trump trampled rules and pummelled Biden and the moderator. Biden remained poised and called Trump a “clown,” a “racist,” a “liar” and the “worst President in history,” then told him to shut up three times without success. Watching this was as painful as enduring someone’s spoiled grandchild throwing tantrums and misbehavin­g at a social gathering. Or a mugging.

As an American, I was embarrasse­d. As a Canadian, I was concerned given our interdepen­dence with the United States.

So far, post- debate polls indicate that Trump lost and even the conservati­ve- leaning Rasmussen Reports said that, the day after, only 37 per cent strongly approved of the job Trump is doing, while 47 per cent strongly disapprove­d.

To all but his most loyal supporters, Trump disqualifi­ed himself by ducking two questions posed by the moderator: “Will you condemn white supremacis­ts?” and “Will you accept the results of the election?”

A refusal to answer either question is evidence that he does not believe in democracy or the rule of law, and intends to wreak havoc during the upcoming election to stay in office or to leave a mess on his way out. This means that the United States must impose as many preventive measures as possible to protect the system and the economy.

The first priority is to maintain the integrity of the voting booth and mail- in ballots. Postal services and polling operations must be guarded across the country. Known white supremacis­ts and their organizati­ons must be watched closely. The other two planned debates should be cancelled because Trump won’t behave and will exploit the exposure to repeat his lies.

Voting disputes must be expedited. In 2000, one involving ballots in just one state — Florida — delayed the outcome of the presidenti­al election for five weeks as the matter crawled through courts. During that time, the S&P 500 fell 12 per cent due to the uncertaint­y. This November, there could be half a dozen or more electoral snafus at the same time, and lengthy court challenges waged by Trump. Markets could tank.

As his support falls, Trump will become even more dangerous and obstructiv­e. At 11 years of age, he was so uncontroll­able that his parents locked him away in a military school for a couple of years. Unfortunat­ely, the only way for Americans to remove this megalomani­ac is to overwhelmi­ngly kick him out of office.

Everything rides on this election. As South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn said: “This president is a recruiter for white supremacis­ts. He’s bad news. We cannot afford four more years of this.”

 ?? SAUL LOEB / AFP via Gett y Imag es ?? U. S. President Donald Trump — above in Tuesday’s debate — is a saboteur
trying to delegitimi­ze the general election, Diane Francis writes.
SAUL LOEB / AFP via Gett y Imag es U. S. President Donald Trump — above in Tuesday’s debate — is a saboteur trying to delegitimi­ze the general election, Diane Francis writes.
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