A dangerous trend | Daily News

A dangerous trend

The political developments that are taking place right now in the Land of the Free are par for the course in many developing countries, to whom the Western Powers regularly lecture on the value of protecting democracy et al. It was just the other day that the US expressed concern over the state of the democratic process in Myanmar.  The very idea that democracy could be subverted is anathema to the ideals seemingly cherished by Western Powers.

Unfortunately, the very shades of such a scenario are now unfolding in the United States, the epitome of  Five Star democracy, where, as things stand, there is likely to be two Heads of State and two centres of power, with Donald Trump bent on staying put in the White House and resuming his “Second Term” in spite of Joe Biden’s clear victory.

How far his bid will succeed one has to wait and see, except that he has put up all the necessary governing structures to give effect to his intentions, going by all the media coverage of the unfolding drama, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaking of a “smooth transition to President Trump’s Second Term.” With these very words he has upended America’s efforts to sow the seeds of democracy elsewhere in the world.   

Trump has repeatedly claimed that the election was “stolen” from him by his rival through ‘fraud’, a clear reference the Mail-In or Absentee Voting on which he had been casting doubts even before the campaign began and which eventually gave Biden the surge he required to flip over the crucial Battleground States. These accusations have been flatly rejected by the Biden camp who are carrying out a parallel campaign to wrest the Presidency, which should be legally theirs by all accounts.

It is left to be seen if Trump will eventually capitulate in handing over the reins to his rightful successor, or, if the stalemate will play itself out indefinitely plunging America into a deep  political crisis on top of the Coronavirus pandemic which is spiralling out of control, with more than 120,000 infections per day on average in that country.

Signs of Trump not conceding the election any time soon before the January 20 deadline was demonstrated by his refusal to allow access to the President-in-waiting of vital State documents and also the financial resources to confront emergencies such as COVID-19 which Biden has vowed to tackle through scientific methods.

The deep chasm between the two camps was also evident when the President and the President- elect attended Veteran’s Day events separately in different locations, which is symbolic of the deep division in the American polity that will continue to exist whatever the outcome of the present impasse. The situation could only be salvaged somewhat if Trump gracefully hands over the reins of power.

After all, all is not lost for him. He has a solid 72 million votes in the kitty which will stand him in good stead if he decides to throw his hat to the ring again in 2024.  By trying to remain in office by default, Trump would only be doing his cause considerable harm, not to mention the implications of his actions on the American society as a whole.      

International television continuously showed past Presidents such as Richard Nixon (resignation after the Watergate affair), Jimmy Carter, George Bush (Senior) - all single term Presidents - leaving office gracefully conceding victory to their rivals devoid of bitterness or antagonism, contrasting with Trump’s attitude. How long this bellicose stand will continue is anyone’s guess except that the much-touted democratic credentials of the world’s number one Superpower now lie in shambles. From the look of things, America is on the cusp of a major political crisis and even civil unrest.

Just over one week after the election, counting in the Battleground States of Georgia, Arizona and Pennsylvania is still continuing and the spectre of violence too has not been ruled out with Trump supporters seen massing opposite counting centres urging the cancellation of Mail-In votes. America which always closely scrutinizes elections in countries such as Sri Lanka to ensure that democratic norms are being followed to the letter now stands glaringly exposed for its apparent duplicity in this regard.   

America which also prides itself as the foremost guardian of democracy and wishes the world to follow its system and governing ethics has instead set a dangerous precedent to the world by its leaders who refuse to quit office after being forced to do so through the due democratic process, a precedent which is bound to be emulated by leaders of rogue states raising the danger of a complete erosion of the system.

The crisis also raises the spectre of a fallout on the geopolitical front that could cause instability in the world political order. The earlier it is resolved, the better it is for democracy the world over.