The United States is often portrayed as the global leader for democracy and all that is just. The final days of Donald Trump’s presidency have begun to question that narrative, putting small cracks into the democratic framework which The United States has cherished so adamantly. The victory of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States is up for debate depending on who you ask, or which side you are on. Regardless, the conversation surrounding the November 3rd election has only fueled the toxic environment which had been birthed in the weeks heading into the election. The distrust in results and democratic processes are constant blows to the election and its inner workings, but the wheels keep turning and it seems democracy will make it past this point, but with a few scars.
In the days following the 2020 Presidential elections, President Donald Trump has continually been pushing the point that this election was fraudulent and President-Elect Joe Biden’s victory is void. The Trump campaign has pushed for recounts in Georgia, Wisconsin, and Arizona, key battleground states which The President needed to secure if he wanted to stay in the White House. A significant talking point behind the need for recounts comes from the belief that mass voter fraud through mail-in ballots was committed. The seed for such allegations began to be planted early in the campaign season, with Trump claiming the election would be stolen from him if mail-in ballots were used and accepted. After the recounts came to the lawsuits, and it seemed every hour a new one would emerge, followed by a swift rejection. Some cases managed to make it to the Supreme Court, infamous for its Bush V. Gore ruling 20 years ago. A notable case being the Texas case, which challenged procedures in other battleground states, seemingly out of Texas’ jurisdiction. Unsurprisingly, the Texas case was thrown out, a letdown for Trump who had appointed three of the nine current justices during his presidency. The news on different cases and recounts make it seem as though the United States is a struggling new democracy that is handling its very first election. It is for this reason that the post-election processes are on display for the world to see.
The threat to American democracy is very real, and if this kind of behavior during the election process becomes normalized, then the United States will have a real problem on its hands. Luckily, there are multiple steps to American elections that keep the process routine and give some confidence in the results. On December 14th, all 538 members of the electoral college met to officially cast their ballots for the candidate that their state selected. This ceremonial yet key election function usually happens without much media coverage, but this year it was a part of Trump’s “win back the election “ plan. Electors did vote the way they were directed to by the states, confirming the 306 to 232 results for Joe Biden, but, unfortunately, the electoral college vote needed to be displayed on networks such as CNN with a vote tally at the bottom of the screen. There was a need to overhype a process, which happens every four years, simply to push its legitimacy which should never have been questioned in the first place. Yes, the democratic principle of the electors being representatives of the people still stands, but it needed to become a spectacle, which is fitting in Trump’s America. Prominent Republicans have openly supported Joe Biden after the election, recognizing his clear victory. Even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell referred to Biden as “President-Elect Biden”, opening a pathway for the electoral college votes to be certified without challenge on January 6th.
Biden’s inauguration does not mean the end of the doubts and distrust caused by Donald Trump’s deception of the American electorate. The level of divisive partisanship is at an all-time high and having a president which to some won an election by illegal means will only escalate the situation. Only time will tell how Joe Biden’s presidency plays out, and where Donald Trump will fit into the picture once he moves out of the White House. Democracy and the American image are being consistently challenged, and there is a tension that needs to be released. I think the biggest concern is what is the breaking point, when will it happen, and what does it mean for the nation which preaches democracy outside its borders but fails to practice it within.
*All arguments made and viewpoints expressed within Youth In Politics and its nominal entities do not reflect the views of the writers or the organization as a whole.