2020 Strikes Again: Democracy in Shambles?

By Alex Berkman

First, Kobe died. Next, COVID hit, and then George Floyd’s death set the nation on fire. But as if we hadn’t already endured enough, 2020 delivered yet another blow. Currently, we are only amidst the most controversial election in U.S. history. So, how did we get here?

During the months leading up to the election, Democratic leaders in particular, asked the American people to use mail-in ballots to avoid possibly unsafe gatherings on Election Day. However, many worried that this plea for more mail-in voting would coincide with greater avenues for voter fraud. Immediately, President Trump capitalized off this fear, claiming that Joe Biden and the Democrats were actually attempting to undermine the integrity of this year’s election. As you might expect, the situation got ugly … fast. In mid October, the California Republican Party even admitted to placing more than 50 deceptively labeled “official” drop boxes for mail-in ballots in Los Angeles, Fresno, and Orange Counties. After the plot was exposed, instead of apologizing or even denying the claim, Hector Barajas, a spokesman for the California Republican Party, pledged to continue to distribute these misleading boxes.

On election night, President Trump got off to a surprisingly promising start, with polling, like in 2016, failing to predict the strength of the Republican vote. He took early leads in swing states Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, and Wisconsin. But as record numbers of mail-in votes came in, Trump’s lead gradually shrunk until Biden eventually overtook each one of the said states. This would be enough to put Biden over the 270 mark and secure him the presidency. Now, over two weeks since election day, though, Trump has still not conceded. Should we be surprised? No. Even prior to the election, we were well aware that Trump’s administration would not go down without a fight. 

Currently, his legal team is pushing efforts to invalidate the results in key battleground states. Most lawsuits, however, have been dropped. In Pennsylvania, there is controversy surrounding whether observers were allowed to spectate the vote counting process. In Georgia, a recount is underway, and in Wisconsin, a partial recount has been demanded. Still, these unsubstantiated claims appear to be just speculation, a far fetched attempt to extend President Trump’s last days in office. In fact, on November 12, Homeland Security even released a press statement that “The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history.”

While Trump-supporters are certainly in their right to be upset, at what point must we say “enough?” Perhaps the most defining aspect of our democracy is the devotion to a peaceful transfer of power. It is this willingness to accept defeat for the sake of maintaining our democracy that makes our country so great. As we approach the climax of this COVID-19 pandemic, there is now more than ever a great need for continuity within our government. The ability for a candidate to lose with grace is a sign of a healthy democracy. Refusal to cooperate … well, that may be devastating.