The Financial Express

Is US democracy finally out of the woods?

Is US democracy finally out of the woods?

The December 14's Electoral College vote finally cemented the US president-elect Joe Biden's victory in the US election held on November 3. Though the numbers were already in his favour, still the drama of challenges thrown and the litigations lodged by the incumbent president and his camp created some uncertainties about the final result. However, by now the road to the White House seems to be clear for president-elect Joseph Biden.  All is set for his inauguration as the 46th president of the USA on January 20.

But the way the outgoing president Donald Trump has been relentlessly trying to block the entire electoral process, repeating his absurd allegation of massive fraud, though he could not produce a single evidence to substantiate his claim, has, regrettably, taken a lot of the shine off his challenger, Joe Biden's thumping election victory.

Ironically, President Trump has been able to keep not only America, but also the entire world in suspense over the election result. It is something strange to watch this happening in an advanced democracy, not a banana republic! However much one may try to explain away president Trump's behaviour as that of an eccentric or of a pathological liar or of a psychopath, the fact remains that he has been consistent in his claims. And he even tried to persuade his Republican loyalists in the states he lost to his Democratic challenger

Joe Biden in popular votes to throw out their popular vote results and appoint a new set of electors of their choice. But the Republican leaders of those states did not simply buy his strange ideas. Then consider the litigations, many dozens of them,  he filed one after another and finally his appeal to the Supreme Court, where he had already placed judges of his choice in the midst of transition of presidency so that they might come to his aid as and when needed, to nullify the November 3's election result. Each of these actions speaks of a person who has full knowledge of what he is doing. Whatever nonsense he spoke or spread through the twitter, which sometimes sounded delirious, seem to be deliberate. In this contest, one should not be oblivious of the fact that he has a colossal support base even in his defeat. He knows his supporters love his eccentricity!  And they believe he is so because he is an outsider in politics and as such not part of what they think the 'corrupt establishment politics'. Trump knows his supporters' pulse and as such remained consistent in his inconsistencies. In fact, Trump knows he could strike the right chord in the heart of a disgruntled America. And he has been doing that since the day he succeeded in getting his presidential nomination, despite his antics, for 2016's election, to the dismay of many sensible Republican leaders who still hold high the ideals of democracy and civility. From that day he became aware of his power. To cut a long story short, Donald Trump knew that given the complicated nature of American electoral process, it is possible to overturn the verdict of the popular vote. And he has been trying to do that single-mindedly since November 3.

Now that the America's state legislatures and the Electoral College electors have gone by the book and proved to be  unwilling to do president Trump's bidding is reassuringly a piece of good news for America! For seeing the way Trump's supporters, the Republican leaders, Senators and Congressmen alike have been unabashedly rallying behind his ludicrous claims, many had already begun to fear if America had lost its moorings, if the unthinkable is going to happen!

But one thing has been proved beyond a shadow of doubt that America's democratic institutions are robust. Those have stood the test of time and it is not possible for a political party and a leader despite their huge following to incapacitate those (the institutions) one fine morning in their entirety.

President-elect Joe Biden's remark following confirmation of his victory by the Electoral College voting on December 14 that 'democracy has prevailed' does resonate with the views of many who believe humanity is really marching forward.  His call '… to unite, to heal' may sound somewhat strange because his victory has been the outcome of a normal election that takes place every four years in America. It was not, after all, a revolution that America went through on November 3.  But, clearly, the president elect Joe Biden was wasting no words! It simply points to what Donald Trump has done to America during his four years in office and, particularly, during the weeks following the November 3 election.

This is a stark reminder for those who think elections can only bring the good. Election has a long history behind it. It has proved its efficacy in choosing a nation's leadership to govern it well more often than not. But sometimes it so happened that the people were swayed by leaders who led them up the garden path.  But the best way to avoid that from happening is to build the institutions of democracy strong and robust. Also, the countervailing institutions like the civil society and the press should be strong and resilient enough to deflect any such negative force out to undo people's hard-earned institutions of democracy.

True, the likes of Donald Trump are capable of undoing many good things that took centuries to achieve. It is possible. History has a lot of evidence to support this view.

If it is possible to be attempted in an established democracy, it is more than a possibility to happen in places where democracy is yet to take root. And what had been going on in America for the last four years is a lesson for the rest of the world. It is that nothing should be taken for granted.  Any time a whirlwind may appear from nowhere and turn the established order upside down.

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