Alyssa Schukar for The New York Times
This is a dark and dangerous moment for American democracy.
A sitting president has spent months telling lies about non-existent voter fraud. Now that his re-election bid is in deep trouble — but with the outcome still uncertain — he has unleashed a new torrent of falsehoods claiming that the other side cheated. He has demanded the Supreme Court intervene to decide the election in his favor.
His supporters are staging protests in Arizona, Michigan, Nevada and Pennsylvania meant to interfere with legitimate vote counting. In Phoenix, some have showed up at the State Capitol with guns (as you can see in this short video taken by my colleague Simon Romero).
The worst democratic outcome — in which judges appointed by the president’s political party intervene to overrule the apparent will of voters — seems likely to be avoided. The Supreme Court has shown no signs of halting vote counts, and Joe Biden’s leads in the decisive states may end up being large enough to avoid the election hinging on the sort of ballot-counting minutiae (like hanging chads) that decided the 2000 result in Florida.
But President Trump’s actions are still causing significant damage. They undermine his supporters’ faith in the country’s government. They also undermine the credibility of the United States around the world. And they force election officials, journalists and social-media platforms to choose between telling the truth and sounding nonpartisan; it is impossible to do both about Trump’s election claims.
In the simplest terms, the president of the United States is attacking American democracy in an effort to remain in office.
“We are as confounded today about the lies as we were in 2016. We ignore them at the peril of democracy; we engage with them at the peril of our sanity.”
Dahlia Lithwick, Slate.
“There have been many times, over the past four years, that covering Trump’s Washington felt like a foreign assignment to me, never more so than while driving around the capital these past few days and seeing boarded-up storefronts and streets cordoned off for blocks around the White House, in anticipation of unprecedented post-election violence. I have seen such scenes before, in places like Azerbaijan and Russia. This is Trump’s America. It is not the America I have known.”
Susan Glasser, The New Yorker.
“For anyone complaining about the ‘late’ shift in totals toward Democrats in MI, PA, and WI, most of those votes actually came in *first.*”
Steve Vladeck, University of Texas law professor:
But Republican-controlled state legislatures refused to allow the counting of mail ballots as they arrived.
“If Biden wins after this poisoning of the chalice, he will inherit a badly divided country after an election that many will deem illegitimate, and it will be harder to govern and more difficult for the United States to exert influence around the world.”
Nicholas Kristof, a Times Op-Ed columnist
Read more: New York Times