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Time Has Come for Senior Republicans to Save America’s Principles and Stature

Time Has Come for Senior Republicans to Save America’s Principles and Stature

Wednesday, 11 November, 2020 - 06:15

What we have seen in the November 3rd US Elections, is exciting but by no way surprising. What has happened since the beginning of the 2016 Election campaign has been the emergence of a groundswell of radicalism within both the Republican and Democratic parties. This groundswell took the shape of impressive performances by candidates who don’t possess the conventional attributes of potential presidents.

At that time, the main Democratic rivals were Hillary Clinton, who eventually became the first woman to be nominated by one of the two major parties, and Bernie Sanders who was the first Jew and first Socialist to compete for the nomination of the Democratic Party of which he was not actually a member, but an ally. As we know Clinton won the race but could not win overall Sanders’ votes which were more than % 40 of the total.

In the Republican camp, most candidates were right-wing conservatives keen to attract the support of Christian conservatives, nationalist protectionists, and inward-looking isolationists. Here too the front-runner was the billionaire businessman Donald Trump who was never elected to a political office; and among the also-rans was Ben Carson, an ultra-conservative Afro-American brain surgeon. Trump won the party nomination, and eventually defeated Hillary Clinton by winning the Electoral Vote despite trailing in the Popular Vote by around 2.8 m votes.

This was the atmosphere of the 2016 campaign, and the radical foretaste of acute party politics and Trump’s policies.

Hillary Clinton was a bitter pill to swallow for the Democrats after enjoying 8 years in power under Barack Obama, but what proved to be even worse was the way in which Trump stuck to his populist electoral program throughout the last 4 years. This led many commentators to claim that Trump governed with the mentality and tactics of a ‘party candidate’ rather than a ‘national president’ for all Americans. Indeed, Trump carried out foreign policy in a stridently unilateralist manner that was uncomfortable even to Washington’s closest allies; just to remain loyal to his populist slogans that satisfied the instincts of his voters.

Internally, his policies were no less populist, as he remained a ‘party candidate’ only interested in cementing his partisan based (base) and radicalizing it further, instead of seeking broad national agreements. Thus, between ‘conspiracy theories’ here, and ‘fake news’ and endless fights with the media there, Washington spent the past 4 years enduring a ‘dialogue of the deaf’.

No doubt, that in the short term, the economic policy of Trump’s populist agenda proved to be very rewarding. For anyone who understands basic economics, short-term speculations, is profitable, as are protectionism putting pressure on trading partners.

However, the free market economy cannot survive long-term protectionism and pressures imposed on partners and allies; but are built on the free movement of goods, people and services. Thus, if the small business sectors benefited from the first 3 years of the Trump Presidency, the ‘bubble’ created by this boom would burst when major US businesses suffer acute crises as a result of losing their global competitiveness.

Then, all of a sudden Covid-19 hit America last January, ushering lots of calculations.

The Trump administration had to decide which should come first: prioritizing public health, and risking the economic benefits of the previous 3 years; or protecting the economy by making light of the virus and resisting lockdowns. This highlighted another problem which is America’s federal system, whereby the President cannot ignore states’ governors.

Another problem was that the severity of Covid-19 was not uniform throughout the country; with great differences in cases and fatalities between urban and rural areas, and affluent and poorer neighborhoods. This was soon to be reflected in demonstrations that soon descended into street clashes with racial and public order dimensions.

Later on, as America became the world’s worst-affected country, Trump, who was long dismissive of the dangers of the pandemic, suffered a reversal in public trust; and as the elections were approaching many Democrats – worried about the virus, and keen on social distancing – decided to vote by mail, Another reason the pushed them to do so, was also their fear of harassment and intimidation by anti-lockdowns rightwing militias that had appeared in several street demonstrations. As for Trump and his campaign organizers, who had expected a huge wave of Democratic mail votes, began promoting doubts in the ‘security’, then the ‘legality’, of the mail votes.

What happened throughout November 3rd and the following few days proved that both sides were right.

Safe Republican ‘red’ states and safe Democratic ‘blue’ states declared their projected results early; but not the battleground ‘swing' states. Initially, Trump was doing well in many of these states for some hours but the margins were small.

Things, however, began to change in favor of the Democratic candidate Former VP Joe Biden, as more votes were counted. Biden soon took the lead in Wisconsin followed by Michigan: then moved ahead of Trump in Georgia and Pennsylvania, along with Nevada and Arizona in the West.

This development worried the Republicans, who refused to recognize the legality of Biden's votes and eventual victory, and decided to carry the matter to the courts. But it was obvious that there were two factors that changed the outcome in a matter of a few hours:

1- That most of the mail votes which exceeded 90 million went to Biden.

2- That Trump’s early lead came from counting the votes of the Republicans’ strongholds in rural small towns America; but his leads began to disappear with counting the votes from big cities such as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, Detroit, Lansing and Flint in Michigan, Milwaukee and Madison in Wisconsin, and Atlanta, Augusta and Savannah in Georgia.

Trump, of course, has every right to contest the results in courts, but he has to follow the proper legal procedure. Opposed to this, there really is a political angle to what is happening that has very little to do with the legal aspect. Would it be at all possible to leave personal issues aside, and respect electoral democracy?

Democracy in America is facing a difficult test; because could it possible to respect and defend the Constitution and institutions - even the United States Postal Service (USPS) - if politically motivated doubts develop into open incitement to street actions, and perhaps armed sedition.

I believe that the ball is in the court of the remaining Republican Party’s wise figures, who surely realize the dangerous repercussions of the current situation.

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