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Don't expect due process in the U.S. Election

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Donald Trump is trying everything to ensure he will remain President of the U.S. for a second term (Image by Jon Tyson | Unsplash)

Even if Joe Biden were to gain enough votes, Trump will not allow him to win the U.S. Election, writes Peter Henning.

ALTHOUGH IT IS impossible to believe anything that comes out of the White House in relation to the medical condition of President Donald Trump, a question now arises about whether the momentum towards his goal of achieving dictatorial power has been stymied or not.   

Will he yet succeed in wrecking what’s left of the weak U.S. democracy and achieve apotheosis as the first king-emperor of the “land of the free”?  Will his illness reinforce his ability to make the election itself redundant, which has been Trump's stated aim for some months now?

He has covered all bases to ensure he will remain President of the U.S. for at least another four years. It will remain to undo the requirement that presidents can serve only two terms, but that will be no obstacle to Trump if he remains in power. Because as things now stand, Democrat mail-in votes will be treated as invalid, lost or simply destroyed and wherever possible Democrat voters will be prevented from voting — especially in Democrat strongholds in swing-states.

Measures have already been put in place to ensure that in large urban areas like Houston it will be extremely difficult for people to vote. 

It is indeed rather surreal that many mainstream media outlets are still focused on what the polls are showing and whether Democratic nominee Joe Biden will gain enough votes in the U.S. Electoral College — as if this is a normal election. 

They ignore that Trump will not allow Biden to win. 

The usual corrupt gerrymanders and obstacles preventing various constituencies from voting have been significantly strengthened in multiple ways, especially in relation to invalidating mail-in votes and restricting postal outlets. Targeting polling booths on election day with "volunteers" to physically control them – or close them as fraudulent – further corrupts the innate anti-democratic Electoral College.

Even if all the measures that have been put in place somehow fail to work, Trump can obfuscate with legal challenges – taking some matters to the Supreme Court as happened in 2000 – and delay others, until the Electoral College is unable to make a decision.

In those circumstances, the House of Representatives will make the decision, whereby each state has one vote. Currently, even though the Democrats have an overall majority in the House, the Republicans have 26 state majorities, which would result in Trump being re-elected if the current situation remains unchanged after November.  

Those who live in hope that Trump is a one-hit-wonder horror – an aberration that can be removed from office by an election – fail to understand and acknowledge that he has no interest whatsoever in due process. He has no respect for any established democratic principle and complete contempt for the institutional separation of powers at a federal level, and between Washington and the other states. 

Those things are merely tools to be used, manipulated and discarded at whim, in terms of whether they serve Trump’s own interests or not. Treated in the same way as he treats all people except those he admires and seeks to emulate — especially Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Whatever means Trump uses to retain power, what he does with that power could make the present seem benign compared to what the future holds. The U.S. and its political system – now so toxically divided and weakened by the Trump Administration – could fracture like the Weimar Republic under a second Trump term. American commentator Thomas Friedman predicts the fracture will be more dangerous and destructive than the 1860s American Civil War.

Even if that doesn’t happen, the barbaric Trump version of the “American Dream” in all its gory splendour of lies, hate, venom and viciousness, now holds centre stage. There is a chilling irony that whatever the nature of Trump’s illness, he’s relying on the very best that U.S. medical science can offer — for that knowledge and expertise is the product of a civilised and humane version of the “American Dream”, entirely the opposite of Trump’s.

The Janus nature of the “American Dream”, falling between barbarism and civilization, has never had the depth of its darkest face revealed so clearly as by Trump. There’s every chance that the best that the U.S. can offer to him – restoring him to health from the jaws of death – will merely feed his malignant and demented megalomania and reinforce his warped hubristic aspiration to be the American Caesar.

Trump will regard his recovery from COVID-19 as further confirmation of his anointed destiny, conferred by divine favour and human genuflection (the very epitome of his“very stable genius” ) and literal personification of all that U.S. “manifest destiny” encompasses.

The thin line between the two sides of the “American Dream” hangs in the air, suspended between hope and despair — between hope that the wheel has not already turned too far into the abyss and fear that it is too late to avert the 'passionate intensityof the worst.

Where that line falls will have massive consequences for a world where climate change is accelerating, inequality is worsening, ecologies are collapsing and totalitarianism is on the brink of global victory.

Peter Henning is a Tasmanian historian and author.

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