USA before the abyss

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There are those who warn against scaremongering. There are those who hope that the US system, with its balance of powers and its institutions and its democracy, will withstand the onslaught. Many, however, sound blunt alerts. There is fear. That’s right.

Who looks to an electoral defeat on November 3 in the presidential elections is Donald Trump. He ran his first campaign on the discourse of division and in office he has turned that rhetoric into politics, has shown his disdain for the rules and has drifted towards autocracy. Now with each passing day in his duel with the Democrat Joe Biden, makes it clearer that in order not to fall, or if he falls, he is willing to throw or drag the whole country with him over a deep cliff.

Protest in Washington over the death of George Floyd, a victim of police violence / SHAWN THEW (EFE)

It may sound exaggerated but it is not. Trump it has repeatedly refused to confirm that it would accept a peaceful transition in the event of defeat and there is no shortage of specialists in electoral law who see possible, even probable, an “electoral Chernobyl”. The Constitution and the laws presuppose this peaceful transfer but do not guarantee it, as he explains over the phone Lawrence Douglas, Professor of Law, Jurisprudence and Political Thought at Amherst College and author of the book ‘Will he go’? (‘Will leave?’).

“The potential for violent clashes is very real,” warns political scientist Lawrence Douglas

The crisis may create more than an unprecedented constitutional debacle. “The potential for violent shocks is very real,” he warns Douglas. And it is a repeated analysis, also by the Transition Integrity Project, a group of 100 experts that has done simulations and exercises of what can happen and has concluded that “the potential for violent conflict is high, especially given that Trump encourages those who support him to take up arms. “

The perfect Storm

The darkest cloud of this perfect storm has been forming before the eyes of anyone. Trump has stirred up the specter of electoral fraud for years, although it is practically not even anecdotal, as shown by numerous studies and the director of the FBI admits, Christopher Wray, which recently testified before the Senate that the agency has not detected any coordinated national effort to commit it. Even a conservative think tank like the Heritage Foundation has only been able to place 1,298 cases in a voter fraud database since 1982.

USA before the abyss

Proud Boys protest in Oregon. / ANDREW SELSKY (AP)

Trump It has also attacked, now daily and with fierce intensity, the postal vote, whose use in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic has skyrocketed. More than 25 of the 50 states have made their access universal and, according to an analysis by ‘The Washington Post’, it will be an option for 198 million voters, or 84% of the total. Democrats tend to use it more (it is estimated that this year 60% of those who will opt for Biden will vote, compared to 20-25% of those who bet on Trump) and, for that very reason, they are the ones who risk losing more votes canceled due to technical problems, and there are, as recalled by the fact that in primaries alone, more than half a million ballots were discarded. TrumpEven so, he does not stop saying without proof that it will be the tool for a “rigged” or “stolen” election.

“When the final results are given, they will be interpreted as fraudulent,” says a Republican legal advisor.

Hundreds of legal battles already open in court follow the long-held manual by Republicans of trying to restrict or suppress voting, especially of minorities. Hundreds more lawsuits can be expected starting on day 3 and as the count progresses. And it’s going to get longer. One of the states that will be decisive, Pennsylvania, allows three days after the elections to receive votes. In Wisconsin, another of the key hinge territories, there are six. And the impasse that is predicted is explosive.

USA before the abyss

Face to face of the presidential candidates, in the first electoral debate. / OLIVIER DOULIERY (REUTERS)

It’s all part of what the teacher Douglas sees it as a “haunting script that Trump has prepared.” And barring a landslide and incontestable victory for Biden, there is considerable consensus on how the first few episodes will play out. On the 3rd, favored by the vote in person, Trump it may appear to be advantageous, but it could well be what one analyst has defined as a “red mirage.”

Trump puts on another show at his first post-covid rally. /
ZML

As the mail ballots are counted, if the trends that have changed decisively in the last 20 years are repeated, according to the analysis of the teachers Edward Foley of Ohio State University and Charles Stewart of MIT, there will be “the blue turn” with a shower of votes for the Democratic candidate.

And there will happen what the Republicans do not hide as a plan, at least as a legal advisor of the Trump campaign confessed to the magazine ‘The Atlantic’: “There will be a recount on election night, it will change over time and when they occur. the final results will be interpreted as inaccurate, fraudulent … “, choose the word.

USA before the abyss

Action in memory of the fatal victims of covid-19, in Miami. / CRISTÓBAL HERRERA-ULASHKEVICH (EFE)

The threats

Trump has succeeded in turning the unfounded threat of fraud into the threat itself. With the powerful loudspeaker of the White House and the conservative media, with the dark chamber and wide echo of social networks, he speaks to a United States with endemic problems related to race, which this year have returned to the surface in the protests by racial injustice and police brutality and tensions that had not been seen since the era of Jim Crow.

He speaks to an extremely polarized society where the pandemic, which has already stopped almost 220,000 dead and more than 7.8 million infectedIncluding the president himself, he has become another element of bitter political division.

The pandemic, which has killed nearly 220,000 people, has become another fiercely divisive element

Trump also speaks to a country with more firearms in the hands of citizens than inhabitants, where FBI history analysis – an indicator of arms sales – has doubled this summer. And they are a USA where, according to the conclusions of the analysis that five experts have published in ‘Politico’, the number of both Republicans and Democrats who believe justified the use of violence to advance their goals or if the other’s candidate wins match.

USA before the abyss

Donald Trump, reflected in the sunglasses of a White House employee, before boarding Air Force One. / TOM BRENNER (REUTERS)

In a year in which tensions and clashes between the most radical groups have already erupted in the streets, sometimes with lethal results, the Republican addresses much more openly than with the so-called “dog whistle” to the groups that his own Administration recognizes. as the main challenge of national terrorism: the far right, white supremacists and armed militias. “Take a step back and wait,” he said. Trump in the debate with Biden to one of those groups, the Proud Boys, which days later appeared linked to a disjointed plot in which at least 13 defendants tried to overthrow the Democratic government of Michigan and kidnap the governor and “judge” her.

An ‘army’ at the polls

These presidential elections are the first elections since 1982 in which the Republican National Committee can again send observers to the voting centers (it was prohibited after a case of intimidation in New Jersey for which they hired off-duty law enforcement officers ). The Trump campaign has also mounted a massive operation, with a budget in the tens of millions of dollars and a dedicated team assigned to Election Day Operations (EDO), which includes mobilizing 50,000 of those observers. in 15 key states.

The Republican will mobilize 50,000 observers in 15 key states

On paper they are people who follow training processes and whose performance has clear legal limits, with variations by states, of what they can and cannot do in the voting centers. But Trump is tightening the rope. They have already complained about being denied access (a fake). He has put on the table his desire to send “sheriffs, law enforcement officers and prosecutors”, an idea that more than one sees as intimidation. And it has William Barr, the attorney general who has collaborated with Trump in the dangerous politicization of the Justice Department, which has been willing to send federal agents if necessary “to comply with the law.”

USA before the abyss

Members of the National Guard, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. / WIN MCNAMEE (AFP)

Even worse, so much Trump like his allies, including his son Donald Jr, they are calling on their followers to get involved and their language is explosive. “The radical left is preparing the ground to steal this election from my father. They are spreading stories that he will be ahead on election night, but will lose when the mail-in ballots are finished counting. Their plan is to add millions of fraudulent votes that they can cancel your vote and turn the election around, “the scion of the president said in a September video that Twitter tagged with an alert.

“We need all able-bodied men and women to join the military for Trump’s election security operation. We need you to help us observe them not just on Election Day but in early voting and at tally boards. President Trump he’s going to win. Don’t let them steal him, “he continued.

“The radical left is preparing to steal the election from my father,” Trump Jr. has said.

The Department of Homeland Security has indicated in a report whose draft has been accessed by ‘The New York Times’ that “the most possible hotspots for possible violence” are “polling places, voter registration acts and mass gatherings associated with the Bell”. And the explosive situation may be even worse.

USA before the abyss

Donald Trump Jr., at a Fighters Against Socialism campaign rally in Orlando. / PAUL HENNESS

The insurrection law of 1807

Trump has already deployed the National Guard against peaceful protesters in Washington DC and federal agents in Portland and Seattle to protect buildings. He has said that he could invoke the insurrection law of 1807 and “deploy military forces” in “cities run by Democrats” to “protect life and property”. And it is not unreasonable to think that, even if the law prevents it, it could try to deploy military or federal personnel in the elections to restore “law and order”, or try to leave them deployed, or have them take under their custody votes with the excuse of preserving evidence while the legal and political war is waged and in the streets for the results.

The number of citizens rises, from both parties, who justify force in some cases, according to ‘Politico’

The experts who analyzed the support for violence for ‘Politico’ also warned that they see “strong parallels” between these US and Europe in the 1920s and 1930s, when the tide of armed mobilization in the streets rose. and violent clashes, which the autocrats used as an excuse to adopt emergency powers. In front of them the professor Douglas recalls that “the US has a more democratic tradition than the Weimar Republic or its institutions”, but also admits something: “It must be recognized that democratic systems are vulnerable, and one of the most disturbing things we have seen with Trump is that fragility” .

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