Statements by Donald Trump, who threatens not to recognize the election results, have thrown into the public arena questions that until now have been reserved for theoretical debates between scholars. Is America's Democracy Crumbling?
What would the US military do if the president clings to power? Is a new civil war possible in the United States? All these possibilities that were once discussed with a smirk have become very real. It is increasingly likely that, after the election, the United States will be plunged into one of the most important crises in its history. Only a victory for Trump or Joe Biden by a very large margin could avoid it. This is not the scenario that emerges. On the contrary, this election risks appearing illegitimate in the eyes of one or the other camp.
What are the essential ingredients of a democracy?
There is no such thing as a perfect democracy. But a number of elements must come together for a democracy to be worthy of the name. Democracy is the government of citizens as opposed to that of the rich, the military, aristocrats or religious. It implies an independent justice and as far as possible, that those who pass the laws are not the same as those who administer them. This is the principle of the separation of powers. A democracy also needs freedom of expression. Thus, the right of citizens to criticize those who govern them must be sacred. Hence the importance of journalistic freedom. Elections must be transparent and give every citizen equal opportunities to be elected on their merits. Several other rules govern democracies, but all relate to an essential principle: the citizens of a country all agree to respect the established rules and therefore, eventually, concede victory to the adversaries.
What democratic principles are at risk in the United States?
Almost all democratic principles have been attacked by Trump. Trump's tax policies have outrageously favored extremely wealthy people. The secretaries he appointed are all very or extremely wealthy. He tried to discredit the media, especially those who criticize him. Trump outdid himself by pointing out that the electoral process was fraudulent because of the mail-in vote, and therefore he would not accept the result of the vote if he lost. An assertion denied by the facts and by all postal voting specialists. Here, Trump has broken with the basic premise that losers must accept defeat.
Have other democratic principles been attacked?
The development of the last decades of American democracy is worrying. For example, the absence of an election spending limit makes it increasingly difficult to elect Americans without financial means. Computer vote counting takes away a lot of transparency from the electoral process and makes it easier to manipulate votes. Gerrymandering , that is, the extreme division of constituencies, skews the results.
Does the United States risk civil war?
This is what some serious American commentators believe, such as Thomas Friedman of the New York Times . Fortunately, many American leaders see the risks and refuse to let their country go in this direction.
What will the US military do?
Army leaders have so far indicated that they want to remain neutral. However, if political chaos sets in, they will have no choice but to intervene.