America’s death spiral

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    ‘Let’s watch what happens in America; there’s so much for us Filipinos to learn.’

    TODAY, January 6, (tomorrow, Philippine time actually) is the day when the United States Congress certifies the results of the recent Presidential elections and proclaims Joseph R. Biden Jr. as the duly elected 46th President and Kamala Harris as the 49th Vice President of the United States. It is expected, as has happened in the past, that members of the opposition party will stand up to object to the certification, but those objections are always overridden. And this time will be no different.

    Except this time the objectors are more numerous and spout unsubstantiated charges of widespread electoral fraud, charges that erode the very credibility of the same election process that put even them, the objectors, in office.

    Republicans led by outgoing President Donald Trump seem to allege fraud only for the office of President, but do not question the results of any of the other races for the US Senate or the US House of Representatives. So we are to imagine Democrats and their “deep state” cohorts plotting to capture only the White House, never mind the Senate (or the lower House and the 50 State Houses). I can also imagine the “rationale”: so the cheating won’t be obvious.

    At every turn, however, Trump and his campaign have lost. They lost the popular vote, 81 million to 74 million; they lost the Electoral College, 306 to 232; they lost about 50 legal challenges at the state level and failed at least two times to get the US Supreme Court to intervene. (All part of the “deep state”!)

    And still, Donald Trump continues to spew half truths (at best) and conspiracy theories about the election that was “stolen” from him. In the process accusing fellow Republicans (many of whom have been party members longer than he and his family combined have ever been), State Attorneys General, sitting US Senators and even the United States Supreme Court of not having the moral fiber, the guts or decency or love of democracy and the American People to “stop the steal.”

    Biden will be certified the winner and will take his oath at noon on January 20. But Trump has set in motion (or maybe has sped up) the death spiral of America. Because more than its military power or its economic muscle it has always been the American democratic process, firmly rooted in clear cut principles, some of which were earned through bloodshed, that has made America the beacon that it has been for decades.

    That process is under attack from a sitting – albeit outgoing – President of the United States. And he has 70 million plus Americans who to varying extents believe him.

    What is most alarming is the way Trump is being coddled by erstwhile respectable politicians from his party who are now happy to repeat his baseless claims. For what? The most compelling rationale is to remain in the good traces of Trump who, if he chooses not to run in 2024, would be a most valued endorser. But the irony is clear: Trump and his allies disparage the electoral process but keep an eye on the electoral process scheduled in 2024! That’s the kind of twisted logic that has surfaced in America and that has become acceptable since 2016.

    It is also as alarming to see very few Republicans react to what appears to be an unethical if not illegal act of the President in calling the State Secretary of Georgia in an effort to pressure him to find enough votes to overturn the results of the November elections. When a President does something wrong – unethical if not illegal – and no one speaks up, then prepare to bid goodbye to the rule of law. Lady Justice, remember, wears a blindfold, and while many time we know that the scales of justice tip one way when they should remain balanced, we keep the faith that in the end things will work out as they should.

    But that requires speaking out, objecting, taking to the streets even, to protest efforts to tip the scales. And nothing should be more objectionable than when not just an ordinary citizen but the President himself is caught trying to do just that, what with all the powers at his disposal.

    But when that is met by silence or, worse, defended by those quick to run to the President’s succor, then the death spiral is quickened even more.

    Let’s watch what happens in America; there’s so much for us Filipinos to learn.

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