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Nevada Today

Nevada Today is a nonpartisan, independently owned and operated site dedicated to providing up-to-date news and smart analysis on the issues that impact Nevada's communities and businesses.

2020 ElectionNews and information

Hindsight 2020: Will We Have Democracy Now?

Democracy can never be taken for granted. Yet in America, so many of us have. We can’t afford to continue making this mistake.

The fact that we’re worrying at all about Trump’s frivolous lawsuits shows how fragile American democracy has become.

Perhaps in another year, in another world, and in another society where we don’t have to worry about whether our elections will be free and fair, we could just do the regular post-election recap and deep dive series that I love to put together for you every two years. But as so many of you already know, this is America in 2020, so that’s not happening.

After all, we can see what’s happening right before our eyes and right here in Nevada. There is a reason why I’m not diving any deeper into President Donald Trump’s and his apparatchiks’ ongoing and completely baseless allegations of “fraud”: They lack evidence. They’re demonstrably false. They have no legal legs to stand on. They’re so bad that Barbara Cegavske, Nevada’s own Republican Secretary of State, is making it clear that there’s no there there. They’re so bad that even U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr is having a hard time convincing anyone in the media or the judiciary that there’s any there there.

Even worse: They’re part of Trump’s attempt to pull off a coup to stay in power. Yes, really – Our democracy is under attack. Yes, I know that their lawsuits thus far have been so laughably absurd that they’re being laughed out of court nearly everywhere they’re trying to overturn the election results. However, just because Trump and his team are not succeeding in convincing the courts to help them with their coup attempt does not mean we’re completely out of these dark and dangerous woods just yet.

If we can not rely on a peaceful transfer of power following a free and fair election, can we still say we live in a democracy?

In case you haven’t noticed, we’re still in the midst of an active pandemic and we’re still struggling to escape a crushing recession. If there’s ever a time we need a functioning federal government, it’s now. But with Trump and his apparatchiks in the federal bureaucracy refusing to admit that Biden won this election, instead directing federal prosecutors to pursue “substantial allegations” that have yet to produce substantial evidence of anything other than normal American elections, we’re now living in a country where our new president-elect may have to do more campaign-style private fundraising to power the transition because the government official who’s supposed to oversee the transition refuses to accept the election results.

If this were happening in another country, and if we had a different president, the U.S. government would be condemning this chaos as anti-democratic. However, this is the U.S. government we’re seeing in action.

For all those media pundits and political insiders who claim that “this is no big deal”, they’re not factoring in the bleak reality that a country deep in a pandemic and struggling with recession needs a smooth transition of power in order to guarantee that the new administration is ready on day one to handle these crises. Also keep in mind that as the 9/11 Commission concluded regarding the delayed and turbulent transition following the 2000 election, a delayed and turbulent transition of power also threatens our national security. 

If we don’t recognize how vulnerable our democracy is, we don’t stand a chance at saving it.

If Trump’s attempts to overturn the election results are currently going nowhere in court, and if he’s only thus far succeeding in undermining the very government he’s under oath to defend, then what’s the point of his latest Sturm und Drang? As much as we don’t want to talk about polls any more, Morning Consult’s new post-election poll may be pointing us in the right direction. 

According to Morning Consult’s latest national survey, only 60% of registered voters overall consider this election “free and fair”, and that overall number is weighed down by 70% of Republicans who say that this election was “not free and fair”. Even though most Americans accept President-elect Joe Biden as the legitimate winner of this election, it’s not a good sign that such a large minority of Americans do not accept this fact that multiple news outlets have confirmed. 

As much as some of us love to laugh at people like televangelist and “Trump spiritual advisor” Paula White-Cain for calling on “African and South American angels” to keep Trump in office, let’s keep three things in mind. One: Paula White-Cain’s bizarre rant of a “prayer” was live-streamed on Facebook, and Facebook yet again has been caught doing very little to counter the rampant spread of disinformation on its social media platforms. Two: This is just one more example of the extreme disconnect between those of us who try to stick to legitimate news sources for information and our fellow Americans who’ve been conned into massive disinformation vortices like QAnon. And three: We’ve already witnessed violent threats on our streets this year, and far-right provocateurs like Steve Bannon have taken to Facebook to incite more violence. 

As we proceed with our “Hindsight 2020” series examining the results of this year’s election, we won’t just dig into the numbers, but we’ll also take closer looks at the various forces that caused these numbers. If we really want American democracy to heal and succeed, we need to stop pretending that “everything is fine”. No, this is a crisis. Even if Trump’s continuing attacks on democracy ultimately fail to overturn the election results, the fact that this is happening at all shows how vulnerable we truly are.

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