authoritarianism, Democracy, Elections, Misinformation, Populism, Radical extremism

Trump has tested the limits of the US constitution – but it’s still holding

Nov 24 2020

By Simon Jenkins* – The Guardian

The fact that the president cannot hold on to power shows the checks and balances are working

Slowly, painfully, alarmingly, Donald Trump has been conceding the US presidency to Joe Biden. Over the weekend his close friend Chris Christie called his delay “a national embarrassment”, joining judges, aides and other Republican politicians. Meanwhile the world has erupted in a chorus of derision at the state of American democracy, polluted by corruption, fake news and money. Countries whose leaders would not dream of risking an open election, let alone conceding one, mimic Moscow in ridiculing “the obvious shortcomings in the American electoral system”. Beijing celebrates by preparing to jail a clutch of Hong Kong democrats.

The reality is the opposite. The late American historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr pointed out that the US constitution regularly takes its grand coalition of diverse peoples to the brink of disintegration, shows them disaster and pulls them back. Trump in 2016 was a populist candidate who ran for election on a pseudo-revolutionary ticket against the Washington establishment. Though he won fewer votes than his opponent, Hillary Clinton, an electoral college biased to protect the interests of small states against big ones gave him the presidency. In office he ran up huge debts, was a bully and a xenophobe, and relentlessly attacked all centres of establishment power. The economy boomed.

American political participation soared. At this month’s presidential election, turnout at 67% was the highest for a century. Biden’s popular lead over Trump was not so much bigger than Clinton’s in 2016, and the college tilted his way rather than against. But Trump’s popular vote actually rose and did so among surprising groups, including Hispanic, black and female voters. In effect, his “outsiders” stuck with him and told him to finish the job.

What helped to give Biden victory, according to exit polls, was increased support among white men. Many of them were, in effect, saying that they had got the point of Trump and now wanted rid of him. The fact remains that almost as large a group was warning that it felt ignored and alienated, and that no one should take democracy for granted. It has now flashed that warning not once but twice. And Trump may yet return.

Of all the great political unions that emerged from the age of empire, the US has proved the most robust (with a hesitant nod towards India). Such unions are seldom entirely stable. Their survival requires constitutions able to accommodate disparate peoples, regions and interests – and do so at peace. The US constitution, so baffling to outsiders, was designed in the 18th century to bind together a union rightly seen as vulnerable. Yet it built what became the world’s dominant great power, recently delivering leaders as diverse as George W Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump. It has survived them all.

Few would contend that Trump has been anything other than an aberration. But if he was testing the US constitution to destruction, it passed the test. Biden should now receive every support in restoring his country’s dignity and good faith. Meanwhile other unions – not least that of the United Kingdom – should look to their own. They all have their Trumps in waiting. All have lessons to learn.

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*Simon Jenkins is a Guardian columnist, author and BBC broadcaster. His recent books include England’s Hundred Best Views, and Mission Accomplished? The Crisis of International Intervention

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Trump Campaign Still Fundraising Hard for Election Lawsuits as President Moves Toward Concession

President Donald Trump‘s campaign team continues to push its supporters to back fundraising efforts in his last-ditch bid to beat the election outcome despite mounting signs harrying him towards a concession. The number of emails from the campaign urging backers to donate ran into the double digits on Monday, with messages from Trump and his allies urging further financial aid for the ongoing legal actions.

https://www.newsweek.com/trump-fundraising-lawsuits-concede-biden-1549727?utm_source=PushnamiMailing&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Starting5&subscriberId=5f0ca8e223994a6b87246a3c

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