Trump's allegations of fraud impugn the integrity of US democracy

Trump's 2am speech does nothing to enhance the image of the US as that model of democracy which other countries should strive to emulate.

US President Donald Trump speaks about early results from the 2020 US presidential election in the East Room of the White House in Washington, US, November 4, 2020. (photo credit: CARLOS BARRIA / REUTERS)
US President Donald Trump speaks about early results from the 2020 US presidential election in the East Room of the White House in Washington, US, November 4, 2020.
(photo credit: CARLOS BARRIA / REUTERS)
From Australia to Argentina, Saudi Arabia to South Korea, the world watched breathlessly Tuesday night as the world’s premier democracy tried to figure out the results of its presidential election.
While the world always anxiously awaits the results of American presidential elections – since, as the globe’s leading power, the identity of the US president has an outsized impact on other countries as well – this time it was also watching something else: the process.
Although it is still not yet known conclusively who won, and as a result, Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Iran, China and Russia do not have a clear indication of how these elections will impact upon them, the process – the manner in which the election was carried out, or more precisely US President Donald Trump’s unprecedented reaction to the developments – definitely raised eyebrows around the world.
People watching US elections are used to a late night call by the defeated candidate to the winner, graciously conceding the race and pledging to work together for the benefit of the nation.
Even in the nail-biting election of 2000, Al Gore called to concede to George W. Bush after midnight, only to call him again two hours later to retract that concession when it became apparent to him that the race in Florida was too close to call.
But this time there were no such gentlemanly gestures – primarily because the entire race remained too close to call.
 What there was, however, was an angry tweet by Trump saying that “they are trying to STEAL the Election” – a tweet flagged and hidden by Twitter because “some or all of the content shared in this tweet is disputed and might be misleading about an election or other civic process.”
There was also the incumbent president addressing supporters in the White House and saying that the election was a fraud.
“This is a fraud on the American public,” Trump declared at about 2:30 a.m. “This is an embarrassment to our country. We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win the election.”
Trump called for the entire vote counting to stop in certain states and pledged to take the issue – though it was unclear which issue – to the Supreme Court.
Biden addressed supporters about an hour earlier, and said that he was “on track to win this election,” but cautioned patience.
“It ain’t over till every vote is counted, every ballot is counted,” he said. “But we’re feeling good – we’re feeling good about where we are.”
To some observers around the world, the sight of an incumbent leader alleging electoral fraud, calling for a halt to the vote counting and claiming victory – even though no such victory looked clear from the results at the time – seemed more suited to certain Latin American, African or Asian countries than to the United States.
Each year – via various organizations such as the Carter Center in Georgia – Americans are dispatched as election observers to far-flung corners of the globe to monitor other countries’ elections and attest to their honesty. Americans have long been seen as well qualified to serve in this role because when people look at the US, they generally see an electoral process that is not suspect, and whose integrity is not to be impugned.
That image was tarnished early Wednesday morning by the president saying that Tuesday’s elections were fraudulent.
Following that type of allegation, from no less a persona than the president, a politician running for office in Bolivia, Ethiopia, the Philippines or Tunisia might now ask of American election monitors in their own countries: What moral authority do you have to preach to us and lecture us about our democratic process? First get your own house in order.
Irrespective of the eventual outcome of Tuesday’s vote, the manner in which the president referred to it as a fraud – and warned of ballots that will be found at “four o’clock in the morning” and added to the count – does nothing to enhance the image of the US as that model of democracy which other countries should strive to emulate.
Democracies are dependent on the trust their citizens have in the integrity of their institutions and processes. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has come under enormous criticism for allegedly trying to undermine some of the institutions of Israel’s democracy – specifically the role of the judiciary. But all that pales in comparison to the US president calling Tuesday’s balloting a fraud – thereby calling into question the fundamental building block of America’s democracy.
The world needs a country that is held up as democracy’s gold standard and can speak with moral authority in the name of democracy.
If the US president does not have confidence in the integrity of his country’s electoral process, then why should its citizens? Moreover, why should other countries of the world? And why should they then listen to Washington when it speaks about democracy?
Much more is at stake in how America and its president handle the results of Tuesday’s election than whether Pennsylvania ultimately falls on the Trump or Biden side of the Electoral College ledger. A world is watching – one badly in need of an America with its democratic moral authority intact to lead it.


Tags democracy