Most likely, American democracy will be able to weather the pressure from President Donald Trump, who tried to change the outcome of the US election by claiming that he won even though Democrat Joe Biden was the clear leader of the presidential race. But despite all Trump’s efforts to stay in power, several key factors of American democracy did not allow him to “distort” the voting results, writes the British newspaper The Guardian.
If Donald Trump’s “Handbook on Legal Election Results” becomes standard Republican practice for future presidential elections: refuse to concede, make false claims of fraud, talk about conspiracy theories, file lawsuits, then American democracy may already be mortally wounded.
But Trump still failed to steal the 2020 election, despite his desperate attempt to do so. His attempts to change the course of the elections are called by analysts “the most dangerous direct attack” on US democracy since the Civil War.
While Trump’s attack on American democracy exposed its weaknesses, Trump’s desperate attempts to change the course of the elections also demonstrated the structural features of the US democratic system that prevented the president from “stealing the election.”
Decentralization is one such factor.
The central government does not control the US elections. National elections are broken down into 50 states and the District of Columbia. Elections in each state are held in turn by districts. People vote locally, ballots are counted locally, and the results are reported locally and then publicly announced. The huge number of people involved in the election process neutralizes such negative influences as pressure from the central government or conspiracy theory.
No president or any other political figure has the power to change the outcome. Although every national election in the United States is “polluted” by suppression of voter turnout and human error, the total number of votes and the transparency of their counting neutralize the effect of these negative “forces”.
The second factor is voter turnout.
Low voter turnout is a persistent symptom of the weakness of US democracy. But turnout was virtually a record in the 2020 elections. Prior to the November elections this year, no presidential candidate had ever won 70 million votes – Barack Obama received 69.5 million in 2008. In 2020, votes for Trump soared to 74 million, while Biden received about 80 million. An interesting point is that it was the “controversial figure” of Donald Trump who was the huge engine of the record turnout of American voters.
The third factor is honesty and transparency.
Despite Trump’s false claims, the US presidential election “does not include” widespread fraud and other significant irregularities. American elections are usually fair and transparent, thanks in part to the tireless work of activists.
No significant cases of fraud in the 2020 elections have been recorded, despite statements by Donald Trump. Most of Trump’s legal claims also have not received support in the courts.
The fourth factor is the US judicial system.
In key states, Trump’s campaign brought in professional lawyers to challenge the election results. However, these attorneys did not achieve meaningful success in the courts, winning only one minor case with 43 in six states, while losing 35 cases.
Among the judges who “did not support Trump” in the consideration of the lawsuits were even those who were appointed by Trump himself. The judges cited a lack of evidence of fraud.
The fifth factor is the American media.
Despite the fact that there are many “controversial media” in the US, funded by conservative billionaires who have received invaluable support from Trump, a strong and independent media remains a vital feature of US democracy. Without succumbing to pressure from the central government, the media are responsible for reporting on the actual voting results.
If there is information about intimidation of voters or polling station officials, the media should report it. If the president spreads false claims about electoral fraud, the media has to investigate and explain what is true and what is false.
Trump got angry when Fox News reported Biden’s victory in Arizona. But in doing so, Fox News has demonstrated its independence and willingness to report on the truth. The Associated Press has worked for years to develop and improve election coverage, promising unprecedented transparency, the newspaper concluded.
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