Free and fair elections are a major pillar of a healthy democracy. One of the major casualties for the United States after the negativity and uncertainty of its 2020 national elections is its self-appointed role as a monitor/arbiter of electoral democracy worldwide. US judgements on other people’s elections have been a bell-weather on a country’s access to development assistance, trade agreements and global recognition. Those days are gone; US credibility to judge other people’s elections now carries the taint of hypocrisy.
The outgoing US president, Donald Trump, has been clear that if he did not win a second term, the elections were rigged. He continued to Tweet his laments (with no evidence) about massive elections fraud. There are only rantings, ravings, and lawsuits. Armed Trump supporters are outside vote counting sites in key states.
If any other country’s leader was acting as Trump is, the US would be full of condemnations and threats of sanctions. All of this means the US can no longer credibly stand in judgement of other people’s democratic elections until it gets its own house in order. The US is saying, “Do as I say; not as I do.”
Many things Trump did during the US presidential campaigns are actions for which the US criticizes other countries’ candidates. And yet, there he is Tweeting unconfirmed nonsense and undercutting his own country. He is spending tens of millions on lawsuits that will likely fail. Even if they were successful, they would not affect the outcome of the election.
These are the exact things the US criticises leaders who are candidates all around the world for doing.
How many electorally defeated despots and presidents are saying the exact things Donald Trump is saying? And yet, the US has, over the years blasted them for fomenting revolution and civil war. The US accuses them of inciting violence and undercutting democratic processes. Where are the threats of sanctions against the US or targeted officials for trying to overturn a free and fair election?
It is Trump’s right to go to the courts to put his case forward about electoral fraud. Courts require evidence, not storytime.
Let Trump and his 2000 lawyers get a case to the highest court in the US (if one rises to the constitutional level.) This will let the world know what kind of Supreme Court actually sits in Washington, DC. That will send a message about the supposed independence of the Judicial Branch of government. If the US judiciary is not independent of political ideology and pressure, then the entire US legal system becomes suspect. Much is at stake and the world is watching.
Trump has no right to encourage rebellion. He and his supporters are dangerously close to doing this. Actually, Trump as little control over the militias and paramilitary alt-right forces prepared to fight for him. He is pushing buttons of people who are a threat to democracy in the USA. The emotional and often irrational Trump-ites have the bit between their teeth. They are doubling down in screaming about election fraud ONLY because Trump said so. This is cultism that can lead to dictatorship.
Trump, like so many other politicians in many countries, does not want to lose an election. It shows that they do not have enough popular support. So, they begin claiming fraud months before the vote and invent ‘fraud’ to cover their minority support. They insult and harass their political opponents. They change laws to favour themselves. And, of course, they lie and exaggerate. This is typical of candidates that know their constituencies cannot deliver on Election Day.
This same method is done here in Namibia. They tiny Opposition parties claim fraud to cover the fact that they do not represent the majority who vote at the polls. They cannot defeat the majority party. So they ‘boycott’ the elections (they knew they would lose anyway). Or they tell lies about fraud and spend money they don’t have on court cases. It is faster and easier to throw manufactured mud than build a larger, stronger political base.
The US has lost serious credibility worldwide on many levels. But, its role in monitoring, supervising and criticising other people’s democratic elections may well be at an end (for now). President-Elect Biden must work hard to rebuild many things Trump destroyed. The credibility to judge other people’s elections is one of them.