04 November 2020

The beginning of the end
for American democracy
and the ‘American dream’?

Patrick Comerford

I have stayed up all night, watching the US election news and results. I am exhausted, physically and in many other ways too, and I am about to go to sleep … at last.

It has been an emotional roller-coaster of a night, and the roller-coaster may continue until Friday, for the next few days or weeks, perhaps right up to inauguration day in January. As I go to bed this morning, there is chaos in the counts in Georgia and Arizona, Trump is claiming 'they' are trying to steal the election as he prepares to claim victory before the count ends … and in a Tweet within the past hour he cannot tell the difference between polls and Poles.

I said in my blog posting last night, with a nod to Leonard Cohen’s song ‘Democracy,’ that this election may not mark the return of democracy to the USA, but the beginning of the end of the US.

That may sound a remote and difficult prediction this morning, to some it may even sound absurd rather than a possibility. But who in the early 1980s could have predicted the fall of the Berlin Wall, the reunification of Germany or the break-up of the Soviet Union?

Who, even ten years ago, could have seriously considered the possibility of Brexit? The collapse of the ‘One Nation’ Tories and the hijacking by the far-right of the Conservative Party? Already, serious commentators are talking about the break-up of the United Kingdom within the next ten years.

The past four years have seen many people deluded by the lies of both Boris Johnson and Donald Trump. And this year’s elections in the US show not only how weak and fragile democracy is in the US, but may also presage the break-up of the United States.

A Trump victory could yet see the majority of states within the United States invoking their own rights and over-ruling presidential decrees.

A Trump victory could see open defiance on city streets, troops, the National Guard and state militia being called in, and even Trump-supporting far-right militia gangs attempting coups in Democrat-run states, as happened recently against the Democratic Governor of Michigan Gretchen Whitmer.

A Trump victory would lead to a rampant rise in Covid-19 infections in the US, and undoubtedly encourage the rise in attacks on synagogues, churches and mosques that has been passively encouraged by the Trump regime in the past four years, and the continuing erosion of human rights and press freedom. In the past few weeks, we have seen voter suppression and voter intimidatiion, reinforcing the fear that in Republican eyes it is no longer so that every vote matters, that every vote counts.

I am certain of this: a Trump victory would bring the United States to a place similar to that of Germany on the eve of Kristallnacht in November 1938.

A Biden victory, although this morning it seems less and less likely, could lead to weeks of egregious, vexatious and expensive court challenges by Trump and his thugs right up to inauguration day.

A Biden victory could intensify that open defiance on city streets, with Trump-supporting far-right militia gangs more violent in their attempted coups in Democrat-run states.

All trust in the institutions and processes of democracy has been destroyed by Trump and his regime in the past four years. The Supreme Court has been packed, the Senate has become a rubber stamp for the White House, and the electoral college system in itself has made it a dysfunctional democracy.

Any democracy in any country depends on an opposition that can speak out openly, critically and with independence and moral confidence. But throughout this campaign Democrats have been intimidated by Trump supporters, and in the event of a Biden victory the Republicans have become devoid or moral credibility.

Even with a Biden victory, the percentage of votes garnered by Trump means a large section of American society is going to continue to be a threat to national security. Racist and far-right groups, including local militias, the Ku Klux Klan and swastika-waving neonazis, have been given four years to organise themselves, to be emboldened, to undermine everything that was once labelled collectively as ‘American values.’

As I go to bed this morning, there is still no clear outcome, although Trump seems to have won in Florida, and most of the swing states have yet to declare. Perhaps the nightmare is only beginning.

Speaking as President of the Irish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) against Trump’s policies during a protest outside the US Embassy in Dublin

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