Alexis De Tocqueville, the 19th century astute observer of the nascent American democracy, once observed, “the greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults.” Indeed, the coming US presidential elections is a litmus test of this purported greatness. Transpiring at a calamitous moment in modern American history, given the new upsurge in Covid-19 numbers nationwide, the simmering racial tensions, and the Trump-led sharp polarization of American society, the November elections for president, members of Congress, as well as local offices, will likely result in devastating blows to the Republican Party, which is in control of the US Senate and the White House at the moment
Although there are plenty of ‘prophets of doom’ predicting contested results and a messy legal process that my replicate the 2000 scenario, when Al Gore lost to George W. Bush as a result of a Supreme Court intervention in vote count in Florida, such gloomy predictions pale in comparison to the healthy poll numbers favoring Biden and the rest of Democratic Party candidates running for office. Should these numbers hold for another week, then chances are we will witness a landslide victory for Joe Biden, harvesting several million popular votes more than Trump and, most likely, even a better result in terms of electoral college — this author’s educated guess is Biden will win well over the minimum 270 electoral votes needed to secure the next presidency of the United States. In the Senate, Democrats are poised to pick up 4 or more seats, and in the House of Representatives they will almost definitely maintain their present solid majority.
Of course, a huge sudden turnout favoring Trump on the election day may change the results, particularly if he is able to reverse Biden’s current lead in the crucial “swing states” that Trump won back in 2016, but that does not seem likely. Despite the gravity attached to these elections — Biden has termed it as a vote on “American character,” although it maybe more fitting to describe it as a vote for “American democracy” in the light of Trump’s hints of refusing to accept the results on the basis of unreliability of absentee votes, irrespective of election officials’ assurance of the system’s integrity.
Nor one can entirely rule out the “nightmare scenario” in which Trump would “steal” the elections with help by the conservative justices he has appointed to the High Court, likely to lead to severe popular backlashes and, perhaps, Trump’s invoking the dreaded Insurrection Act of 1807 to quell the street opposition. It is unclear if brining the army into America’s streets will ignite less or more violence, but one thing is certain: the hundreds of pro-Trump right-wing militias pose a clear and present danger to American democracy, particularly if Trump blows his dog whistle again, as he did in the first presidential debate when he called on the socalled “Proud Boys” to “stand down.” Various US commentators, such as Thomas Freidman of New York Times, have hypothesized the various scenarios including the one that is akin to a new civil war in America involving political murders and assassinations.
Yet, as stated above, the prognostications of a “contested election” mired in controversy and, perhaps, political violence, operate on the assumption of a close race, which may not happen, in light of the latest opinion polls showing Biden ahead of Trump by a wide margin of over 9 points. This is a significant lead that if maintained by the election day, will culminate in upwards of 7 to 9 million more votes for Biden, thus precluding a pro-Trump court intervention to tamper with the results.
A toxic combination of health crisis mismanagement, Trump’s polarizing politics and fundamental inability to act as a national unifier, important defections from Trump camp by a section of the Republican Party, and so on, account for this likely eventuality. To these one must add Trump’s inability to deliver on the promise of vaccine before the elections, and the empty promises on turning the corner on the pandemic, not to mention the damaging news on Trump’s tax evasions, and the lack of a new stimulus package thanks to the complicity of House Republicans, sending a strong signal on their tacit consent to a post-Trump transition.
Even the Senate Republicans’ quick confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court is indicative of their realistic concern that they are about to lose their Senate majority, otherwise they would not have rairlroaded the process so blatantly.
Consequently, states such as Ohio, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Iowa, and perhaps even Florida, are likely to go for Biden, who promises a return to a more traditional American foreign policy, i.e., a return to the past of Obama’s 8 years in office. The latter will likely mean an end to the current trade war with China, US’ return to the various international commitments withdrawn by Trump, such as the Paris Climate Accord and the Iran Nuclear Accord, a more belligerent attitude toward Russia and, on the whole, a more multilateralist approach to global affairs, much to the relief of America’s European allies.
For the world community, a post-Trump US is a major plus that will bring much-needed global cooperation to tackle the grave pandemic-induced problems today, assuming that Tocqueville’s test of America’s greatness will be delivered and the horrendous wounds introduced by Trump on both domestic and international fronts will be healed, optimistically speaking