This is not America
Historians and constitutional scholars reflect on Mr. Trump's refusal to conced the election and his alarming rhetoric in this editorial from the the New York Times: What's Trump Playing At?
Published a week and a day after Election Day and less than a week after concensus formed that Joe Biden won both the popular vote and the electoral college vote, Thomas Edsall outlines the historical context (both long running and recent), norm busting, narcisicism and the Republican party's complicity involved in denying the election results - effectively bringing American democracy to the brink of failure. Regarless of what happens, things will likely not be the same.
One strikingly obvious observation Edsall makes is that the Republican party is actively trying to deny minorities a voice in American politics:
Trump’s refusal to concede, and the support he is getting from his fellow Republicans, is part and parcel of the sustained drive by the right, especially since Barack Obama won a majority in 2008, to constrain and limit political participation by minorities by every available means: gerrymandering, voter suppression, restricting the time and place of balloting, setting new rules for voter identification and so forth.
Thomas Edsall summarizing the work of Frank Wilkinson
And one last excerpt from the article, for it merrits a full reading. James T. Kloppenberg shared the following w/ Edsall:
Trump’s refusal to acknowledge defeat is unprecedented. Yet it is consistent with everything he’s done throughout his life, so it should not surprise us. While political scientists often focus on institutions and political practices, democracy, where it exists, rests on deeper cultural predispositions that are harder to see. Unless a culture has internalized the norms of deliberation, pluralism, and above all reciprocity, there is no reason to concede to your worst enemy when he wins an election, nor is there any reason to acknowledge the legitimacy of opponents.
Norm-busting has been Trump’s modus operandi from a very early age, so to expect him now to conform to democratic norms is unrealistic. Conceding defeat is a tradition consistent with the ethic of reciprocity: you admit defeat, move on, work with those you disagree with, and try to win the next election. Establishing those norms is the work of centuries, not decades. The colonies that became the United States had been at it since the 1630s. By 1787 those cultural pillars were already in place.
Trump’s behavior, Kloppenberg argues, is the culmination of long-term developments within Republican ranks:
Many conservatives considered the New Deal a repudiation of the laissez-faire dogmas they claimed were written into American life. They were wrong about that, as a generation of progressives had shown for decades before FDR’s election. But from Goldwater and Reagan through Gingrich to the present, many Republicans have viewed deviations from what they consider the gospel of free-market capitalism as heresy. Of course there has never been anything remotely resembling a free market in the United States. State, local, and federal governments were involved in daily life from the nation’s first days. But the fantasy of unrestrained capitalism has endured, as has the strategy of condemning as ‘un-American’ anyone who dares suggest otherwise. Given Trump’s four years of hate-mongering and his stubborn refusal to acknowledge reality, his behavior since the election is to be expected — and criticized as the direct challenge to democracy that it is.
Our country as we know it is facing a nearly unprecented challenge. Not since the Civil War has our citizenry and sub-set of our leaders rejected the will of the majority (and electoral college) so braisenly. Their lies about fraud, their rejection of the election results, law and norms must be repudiated.