The ‘New Normal’ of Contested Elections

Donald Trump doesn’t need a second term of office to be the latest in a series of presidents who have permanently changed this country for the worse.

By Anatole d’Ecotopia

Photo by Kedar Gadge

While the strongest argument against voting for Donald Trump was the further damage he could inflict upon the country in a second term, a near-equal argument was against institutionalizing the atrocities of the Trump Regime into place as the ‘new normal’.

It’s happened before: George W. Bush’s “Global War on Terror” remains viewed by many as a collection of unprosecuted war crimes — but thanks to his re-election, it has also been institutionalized into place as a standard component of American foreign policy. Ronald Reagan’s wholesale gift of the American economy to the wealthiest 1% might have been repudiated if he had been denied a second term. Instead, it has impoverished what remains of the American middle class.

Nor do Republicans alone bear guilt for a “new normal” of continually diminished expectations and fairness. Although we can thank Barack Obama’s successful re-election for having at least partly immunized the Affordable Healthcare Act against an activist and reactionary Supreme Court, we can also thank Obama’s two-term presidency for having permanently extended Bush’s cowardly state of perpetual warfare into the realm of wholesale remote-control assassination via drone.

Denying Donald Trump a second term gives this country a desperate chance to hit the reset button on the many ways he has changed this country for the worse, even though a senate under the control of Mitch McConnell will do everything possible to limit Joe Biden’s efforts at repairing that damage.

But Donald Trump doesn’t need a second term of office to be the latest in a series of presidents who have permanently changed this country for the worse. All he needs to do is persist in his current course of denying the long-standing American tradition of peaceable and orderly transition once an election is over. He doesn’t even need to succeed in this essentially seditious act. All he needs to do is persist long enough to be seen as having “won” some concession, however slight, in exchange for his intransigence.

This alone will be enough to embolden others to follow his example. If Trump obtains anything as a result of this brazen and thoroughly dishonest attempt to overturn the results of a national election, no future American election at any level — federal, state, local — is safe from some future would-be Trump (or, more likely, Trumpist) refusing to honorably acknowledge results not to their liking… in the process, further demeaning and devaluing the bedrock foundation of America’s democracy. 

This may well wind up the greatest harm Trump has done, at least equalling the incompetent neglience that has cost more than a quarter-million American lives — for even after competent governance and science-based public policy have contained the Coronavirus, the equally lethal spiritual infection of Trumpism will remain. And as long as this country remains divided by hate, ignorance, selfishness, and intolerance, our society remains at risk to this infection… perhaps for decades to come.

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