We are entering the third week of the sad and dangerous spectacle of President Donald Trump, who insists on not recognizing his loss, involving himself in a sort of golpe de estado (coup d’état) in slow motion and the plain light of day, with the goal of reversing the voters’ decision to elect Democrat Joe Biden as their next leader.
It’s not just one more tantrum from a mean and narcissistic being who should have never been president, but from a vengeful entity that does not and will not spare any effort to inflict the largest among of damage on what seemed to be the most stable democracy in history, just because he has lost. It is, literally, the chronicle of a troublemaker who believed the fantasy of his own “supremacist superpowers,” now being used to destroy an entire nation because he feels like it.
There are, of course, three clear elements in this chapter of history. First, that the U.S. people, unaccustomed to this type of situation (at least not internally, although the invisible hand of the United States in coups in other nations is well-known), seems not to understand the gravity of the matter, or how this mess created by Trump harms the democratic process, sowing seeds of discontent in the electoral process among a large swath of the population.
And the zero social reaction is so naive or childish, that that is precisely the reason why it amazes the fact that a representative like Trump not only remains in power threatening stability and national security, but tries by all means, like any mafia, to take hold of a White House that has already given him the eviction notice since November 3.
Trump, in fact, initiated the decomposition of the system back when Barack Obama won the 2008 election, heading up the campaign to raise doubts about the U.S. citizenship of the former president. He assured us that his “investigators” had found the “real” birth certificate of Obama, but it seems that those who went to look for the certificate are the same investigators who presented Trump’s tax returns. They never appeared.
It resulted in nothing, but it planted the seed of a conspiracy theory that, eight years later, would catapult him into the presidency of the country, similarly spreading falsehoods about his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. And despite such flagrant lies against her, the candidate accepted her loss immediately, respecting not only the canons that mark U.S. political tradition, but abiding by the rules of honor deserved by the institutions of this democracy, entrenched for more than two centuries.
In the presidency it became easier for Trump to sustain his power on lies and falsehoods, which sadly have a significant audience. There are 73 million people in the United States who, despite everything, voted for Trump.
This is enough of a reason for introspection about what has happened to us, as a nation, such that a significant segment of the population supports this cult of Trump’s, converting themselves into a blind sect, and loyal too.
The second element is the shameful conduct of a Republican Party whose leaders have surrendered their responsibility to protect democracy, the integrity of the electoral process, and its citizens.
By putting their political interests ahead of the nation’s, these individuals fomented Trump’s craziness and now see how the transition process has not even started, in the midst of a pandemic that has killed more than a quarter of a million people in the United States. Republican leaders, in this sense, are Trump’s accomplices, a situation that in and of itself calls into question whether the Republican Party will continue to be a real political-electoral option in the years to come. At least as long as it refuses to shed the trapping that Trumpism has sewn upon it, from head to toe, it will be identified as part of those who falter and betray their own principles, values, and beliefs.
And the third element is an anachronistic Electoral College system that also did not prevent the possibility of the descent of a figure like Trump, since no legal mechanisms exist to say enough is enough.
Consequently, those three elements noted above make it clear that the coup that the Trump administration is trying to perpetrate, in order to remain in power, in fact has been occurring since the beginning of this political anomaly called “Trumpism.” It has been a gradual coup since more than four years ago, back when the U.S. democratic system permitted a xenophobic, racist, and supremacist person to participate in a presidential election. It was then that the first phase of said coup began to take form.
And no one noticed it because, according to the rules, everyone has the right to vote and to be voted for. But upon doing this, that is, permitting that a supremacist be part of a democratic process, the very system, without realizing it, legitimized said coup.
The only thing that remains is to pray that the 20th of January of 2021, at noon, comes soon so that the next president is installed in charge. But between the 4th of November and the 20th of January, the outgoing president has all the time in the world to, as in Trump’s case, inflict damage and debilitate institutions.
Every electoral cycle there are discussions about the need to reform the Electoral College system or simply eliminate it, but there are too many interests involved. Because without a doubt, the simplest thing would be that whoever wins the majority of the popular vote is elected president, just like what occurs in other contests. Just imagine, in 2016, Trump would not have triumphed, since he lost the popular vote to Clinton by some three million votes.
And now in 2020, we would not be involved in this lamentable spectacle, hoping that the loser of the popular vote and the Electoral College accept reality. The evidence of his defeat is so clear as to be offensive that Trump is not up to the task nor the historic moment this country is living.
In this Thanksgiving Week, in the middle of the pandemic, we have to give thanks because the U.S. democracy seems like it will survive this attempt by Trump to subvert the election results.
But we will have to do so without forgetting how Trump’s actions have revealed the fragility of this democracy.
To read the Spanish version of this article click here.