Today is another election day in the United States. It’s the latest “mid-term” voting two years after each presidential election. However, this one is unlikely to be routine. Following the example of Donald Trump, Republicans who lose are not likely to be gracious in defeat. Many may claim the election was fraudulent.
That’s what Trump still is doing since he lost the 2020 presidential election to Joe Biden. More than 60 courts and repeated recounts have failed to find any improprieties in the voting that year. But Trump, a megalomaniac, will not admit publicly that he’s a loser.
Since Joe Biden’s victory, Trump and his team have promoted wild conspiracy theories to spread doubts about the integrity of democracy’s most important ritual. When auditors, judges, and election officials found no evidence of improprieties, Trump stoked the violent insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021. A congressional committee investigating that event has concluded Trump was “personally and substantially” involved.
The Washington Post, one of America’s influential newspapers, reports that half of the Republicans on today’s local, state, and national election ballots deny or question the legitimacy of Biden’s election. Election deniers are candidates in 48 of America’s 50 states. Analysts expected at least 170 to win.
However, the big prize will be control of the U.S. Congress, where Democrats currently hold slim majorities in the House and Senate. One potential international implication will be America’s substantive role in the Paris Climate agreement. For decades, Republicans blocked federal efforts to control greenhouse gas emissions. The gridlock finally was overcome three months ago when Democrats narrowly passed a $370 billion investment in clean energy.
At the state government level, at least 19 states have enacted “voter suppression” laws since Trump’s defeat, making it harder for traditional Democrat voters to cast ballots. The laws range from tougher voter-identification requirements to making it illegal for anyone to distribute food or water to people waiting for hours in long lines at election sites.
The most egregious changes in state election laws will allow partisan state legislatures to override the voters’ choices. Republicans control 30 state legislatures while Democrats control only 18.
In other words, while faithful Trump Republican have methodically undermined the American people’s confidence in the integrity of elections, it’s Republicans who have been rigging the electoral system in their favor.
Ordinarily, many Americans sit by their televisions on election night, anxious to learn who won. This year, they might as well go to bed early. There’s a good chance today’s vote will trigger pandemonium as losers insist they won and, like Trump, pull out every tool in their toolbox to overturn the voters’ decisions.
Of most concern, however, is how a representative democracy like America’s can survive when the electorate doesn’t trust the system by which its representatives are chosen. That is likely to be the big question in this election as well as in 2024, when the nation will choose its next president.