Election crisis exposes deep flaws of US democratic system

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By Ai Jun Source: Global Times

Photo: VCG

The year 2020 has seen crises chasing the US one after another, ranging from the coronavirus spread to anti-racism protests. Yet, before these challenges can be tackled, a new crisis is emerging – elections.

The Atlantic recently published a special preview of its November issue entitled, “The Election That Could Break America.” Barton Gellman, an American journalist and bestselling author known for his reports on the September 11 attacks, claimed that “the coronavirus pandemic, a reckless incumbent, a deluge of mail-in ballots, a vandalized postal service, a resurgent effort to suppress votes, and a trainload of lawsuits are bearing down on the nation’s creaky electoral machinery.”

In the past, such steadfast analysis in a democratic country could be considered a crazy conspiracy theory. But in today’s US, the so-called beacon of democracy, it is becoming a possible reality.

When asked Wednesday last week whether he would endorse a peaceful transfer of power after the November election, President Trump refused to make a commitment, saying “there won’t be a transfer… There will be a continuation.” It soon triggered criticism from both the Democratic and Republican Party. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reminded Trump the day after that he was “not in North Korea.”

There are already enough puzzles over the November election for the US to handle, such as ballots being rejected for missing the deadline during primaries, and the removal mailboxes by the US Postal Service. The peaceful post-election transfer of power, which is supposed to be one of the vital characteristics of a “mature” American democracy, has become another conundrum. And no one can be certain whether the election will proceed in line with the majority of American voters’ wishes.

Who will determine the result of the US presidential election? The American people or certain politicians? The question is surprisingly left unanswered. Sadly, even the US Constitution and federal law do not guarantee the peaceful succession of power, according to US legal scholar Lawrence Douglas, who suggested a peaceful transfer is simply something US laws “assume” will happen.

Being proud of its electoral process, the US has been consistently pointing fingers at other countries’ political systems. In countries which Uncle Sam identifies as rivals, Washington tends to accuse selection of state leaders as unfair if it goes against the US will.

Guess what, the US’ own elections are trapped now. Worse, as the credibility of the US electoral process faces serious challenges, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which has observed US elections since 2002, announced it will scale back the group of the planned 500 observers to just 30 to monitor the November election this year, due to the COVID-19 crisis, which creates more uncertainties to the upcoming result.

The US is still called a democracy, yet is becoming increasingly hypocritical, inequitable, and incapable of meeting or even reflecting the will of its people. Its elections are kidnapped by political infighting, while seemingly irreparable divisions are taking shape in American society.

The crises confronting the US are not accidental, but the result of the growing disorder in the US political system. Americans, who used to believe they were the chosen ones to promote democratic values to the world, are becoming merely helpless voters today.

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