Here’s What Americans Are Getting Wrong About This Election
If this election did one thing, it was bringing America’s dark side to the fore.
I mean, when was the last time you came across a nation in which 73 million people chose to back authoritarianism, racism and fear?
We’ve always known that there was an America within America which wanted this to happen. Some would have argued that was the real America. I would have differed. I’m struggling to now.
You see, if someone votes for Trump because they like his policy, or because they’re staunchly anti-Democrat, they’re also saying that those things weigh heavier in the scales than gun violence, alienating Mexicans, banning Muslims, locking children in cages, fascism and hundreds of thousands dead from Coronavirus.
Knowing that, if America goes on believing that Trump and the wave of evil that came along with him are both done and dusted just because he lost, then it’s going to be sentencing itself to more of the same. In fact, I’d argue that’s exactly what they would want you to believe. Why? Because it would make you complacent. You’d go back to your non-voting ways. You’d stop taking an interest in politics again. You’d think everything was back to normal.
And that’s when they get you.
Think back to 2016. Did you see it coming? Did you vote? I’d hazard a guess that the answer to both those questions is a no. Why? Because America, as a whole, was complacent. It thought things like this just don’t happen. After all, this is the “beacon of democracy” that we’re talking about. Not so much of a beacon anymore, is it?
And make no mistake — 2024 is going to be a repeat of 2016 if America goes back to its old ways. Trump wasn’t a one-time thing. He may not even be a one-term president. But that’s not what you should be worried about. Because the names running for office will change but what they’re running for won’t.
This is why the future of American democracy still isn't secure. This is why the American people can’t afford to believe this one election did the trick. And before you say it, yes, I get it. I understand why so many people tell themselves that it it’s over. Quite simply, they're fed up. They never wanted this to happen in the first place. They did their bit this time. But they’re not looking forward to having to do it every single time. The truth is, however, they must.
Why? Because you can send Trump to jail but what are you going to do about the ideology that made him president? You see, many believed he won in 2016 because he was a brute and an outsider. Wrong. If that was the case, then America should have had its fix. It had four years to see what that brute was doing to the country. But instead of that, 7 million more decided to join the party.
This is what I mean when I say Trump was just the frontman. America has deeper problems — an America within America that is now threatening to consume the latter whole. And what does that mean for democracy? A death-sentence. Why? Because those 73 million will be ready to propel authoritarianism to the presidency. Add to that the fact that America is not likely to vote again in numbers like it did this year, and you realise that you have a problem. And in case you were wondering, no, those 73 million aren’t likely to change their views either. If they were going to, they would have already done so.
Which brings us to the obvious question — where is this going to lead to? I’ll tell you — more Trumps. There’s no other way of putting this, but when you have a winning vote-bank being given to you on a silver platter, politicians are going to jump at the opportunity to try and win that base over. Let’s not forget that they don’t have to do much either. Because Trump is leaving behind a blueprint of exactly what to do, what to say and how to behave. For politicians just like him, it’s a goldmine. And not just because those tactics are good enough to win, it’s because they’re also capable of expanding the already colossal support base. I mean, it took him 4 years to win over 7 million more, right? What are another 4 years of his politics, in younger and smarter hands, going to do?
If you’re picturing a democracy dying, you’d be right. And if you’re thinking that Biden winning was the answer and that everything’s rosy again, then let me tell you that it isn’t. Biden winning was a breather — a much-needed time-out. His win will not stop 73 million from believing the decision they made was the right one. If anything, it’s going to strengthen their resolve. Consider this — 70% of Republican voters don’t believe Biden’s win is legitimate to begin with. And you know what that’s led to? A situation where Biden isn’t even in office yet but Trump has been able to try and overturn a vote in broad daylight — showing a blatant disregard for democracy that you would only see in generals leading military coups.
So it goes without saying, but if America falls asleep now, it will have no one to blame for what happens next other than itself. It will have chosen to relinquish its democracy to those who would rather rule with impunity than govern with decency. This is how democracies crumble. And America is a truly unique example where a president’s coup could fail and yet the people could lead one on his behalf. That is what will happen in 2024 if Americans become complacent. Remember, tens of millions in the Trump base feel they’ve been wronged. That’s all the motivation they need to, in their minds, set the record straight come the next election.
And if that happens, if they win, America will have, once again, given authoritarianism democratic backing. This is something that you would only have seen in the Third World. But there, you could cut the people some slack because those populations are largely uneducated and drowning in poverty. What excuse does America have? None. Fascism’s second-coming will have been intentional. And you know what happens when an ideology like that gets a second term? It begins to fester. The rot begins to set in. Institutions begin to be corrupted. How are you going to beat it then?
That’s why I’ve been banging on about why the next two elections are going to be crucial to the survival of American democracy. Americans need to be on their guard, and they need to vote. They need to show, not only the fascists but the world, that they are not going to become complacent. That they will not allow their democracy to turn into a democratically-backed autocracy.
And America is going to have to. Because the kind of authoritarianism they’re going to have is worse than the type they picture when they hear the word itself. Why? Those regimes lack legitimacy. I come from a country which has been ruled by military dictators, and they had to, time and again, call general elections. America’s not going to have that option. Its authoritarianism will already have all the legitimacy it could ever ask for — approval from 73 million or more.
So Americans, despite how much they may not want to, are going to have to do it all over again. The good news is, if they do, they’re going to win — just like they did this time. But it is now or never. This is not a time where you can sit back and hope that the movement for an America built on lies, fear and violence will have died down. That somehow, they may have all turned the corner.
Because if you decide to go down that route, you will be leaving your democracy’s future up to chance. Ask people who’ve lived under brutal authoritarian regimes if they would make the same mistake.
Come the next election, your options are going to be crystal clear — do you want an America that protects its democracy or an America which celebrates relinquishing it to the jaws of authoritarianism?