The four years of Trump’s doctrine has exposed hundreds of legal loopholes in a system persisting over centuries. Hardly any president in the past triggered the flaws which Trump managed to do in his tenure.
From involving the military in the US political spectrum to filing senseless lawsuits, asking Pence to overturn the election results in Congress, and putting America on fire in general, Trump has set many precedents, the likes of which will not be easy to find in the future.
Playing politics with the discovery of the coronavirus vaccine is one of the most prominent examples in this regard.
Now, to save American democracy, some pragmatic measures are the need of the hour which can avert the imminent crisis created by Donald Trump. The partisanship supported by Trump has created more hate than ever among people today.
Not conceding the election was also one of the unprecedented events, the likes of which is rare in the past.
Policy options having viable scope are the need of the hour to save American democracy from imminent trouble. What are those policy options? Let’s explore.
Trump Exploiting the Existing Loopholes in System
Trump is just a puppet system who found enough things in the centuries-old system to kick off the democratic crisis in the country. The soon-to-be-former president exploited the existing loopholes in the American system. Many of the Democratic conventions were established after World War II and have never been updated.
Larry Diamond, a well-known scholar of democracy, believes that Democratic conventions are dying worldwide. In most countries, elected leaders have used democratic issues for their political gains. Courts, intelligence agencies, civil services, business communities, media, and all other institutions have fallen into the hands of politicians while they were meant to be independent.
The basic idea of American democracy was to give every individual a fair chance to pursue the American dream. American society is a complex nexus of people of varying colors, races, and ideological groups. For decades, they have lived in peace and harmony.
The murder of George Floyd by a police officer reiterates that to save American democracy, we have to go a long way to fill the voids present in the system.
The gap between the different groups is getting wider with the growing diversity, and the United States is moving towards a two-tiered society. Many Americans live in poverty and find it hard to put food on the table or provide their children with a good education.
The solution to these problems is in the hands of legislators who are elected by these people. The political institutions have to realize their potential to provide Americans with the means to live a reasonable life. People who vote for politicians to save American democracy are disappointed by the political tussle which puts the real issues aside.
America embraced democracy because it would bring peace and prosperity to the people, but we have seen neither peace nor prosperity in recent years. The stagnated system was further exposed by the recent BLM uprising, leaving American society more vulnerable. Governments are meant to unite the people.
A president has to work with the whole country by bridging the gaps among different communities. However, under the presidency of Donald Trump, societal infrastructure was shattered, leaving an extreme, inherited mess for Joe Biden.
Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. These are famous words of Lord Acton and are very much relatable to the current political situation of the United States.
Donald Trump and the Republican Party have become addicted to power, the classic example of which is the resistance of the power-hungry Trump to leave the White House even after being beaten by such a fair margin in the election.
For those Americans who want to save American democracy, this addiction to power suggests that Trump has created the most severe political crisis in American history.
Trump refuses to concede and even threatened military involvement to overturn the election result. Similarly, despite having no evidence of voter fraud, Trump pursued his voter fraud rhetoric pervasively, resulting in the distrust of the general public on the electoral system.
Arguably, the real flaw lies not in any political party or president but in the Constitution. Loopholes in the Constitution empowered Donald Trump to do what he has done. The election system of the United States is decentralized, where a lot of power is given to the states and state legislatures.
Trump knew this and called on the state legislatures to send their delegates instead of electors to cast the Electoral College votes. However, the legislatures refused the offer, but having attempted this in the first place is a dangerous thing.
The electoral college, with so much power given to it, is a controversy in itself. If we analyze the pros and cons of the electoral college, we can determine that immediate reforms are needed to tackle the overhanging sword.
The presidential election of 2000 showed yet another loophole that made Bush the president. It happened that the Supreme Court decided to stop recounting in one state. The episode revealed that even if states conduct their elections properly, they still have to feed the results in an arbitrary and convoluted Electoral College system. Similarly, five candidates won the presidency despite losing the popular vote.
Voter suppression has also increased in recent years. The Electoral College system allows a few states to decide the president of the whole of America. Political parties establish their strongholds in these battleground states with the help of voter suppression. To save American democracy, voter suppression needs to be restrained as early as possible.
The Electoral College system is a vulnerability of American democracy. The framers of the Constitution did not see these times coming, but the time is much different now. Now the responsibility lies on the incoming federal and state governments to initiate the Constitutional amendment to wrap-up the dominated system of the electoral college.
In this regard, ten things must be done:
- Updating the voter registration system to facilitate voters as much as possible.
- Introducing a new Voting Rights Act that will provide uniform voting standards to avoid voter suppression.
- Curbing large financing of election campaigns to provide equal grounds to independent candidates.
- Disclosure of funding sources to avoid corruption.
- Launching an operation against lobbyists.
- Banning officeholders from entering in new business deals while in office.
- Releasing tax returns of every member of the cabinet.
- Establishing nonpartisan commissions to end voter suppression.
- Preferring popular vote over the electoral vote.
- Empowering the Supreme Court to ensure the integrity of election results.
Depoliticizing the Federal Institutions to Save American Democracy
To save American democracy, political and governmental institutions are responsible for providing the citizens with opportunities to flourish in a healthy and safe environment. By capitalizing on the human capital, the hidden potential in millions of unemployed and underemployed Americans can be uncovered.
The United States Postal Service failed to deliver mail-in ballots on time because the government refused to provide it with additional funding. Had the postal service performed its job efficiently, Trump would have no reason to spread fake claims of voter fraud.
Similarly, other institutions of the country face severe problems and fail to deliver to the public. Donald Trump surpassed his 44 predecessors in damaging the integrity and capability of democratic institutions of the United States.
He launched relentless assaults on the media, courts, and bureaucracy. He tried to politicize the military, intelligence services, and law enforcement. His misuse of presidential powers for political and financial advantage has seriously undermined this authority.
Empowering these institutions is the only way to save American democracy. In fact, it will not only heal democracy but will also equip them with powers and independence to serve the American people to their fullest.