Throughout the past four years, the Trump Administration has been among the most confusing cases of revolving doors and executive disorder in the history of the United States. Before this, the democratic structure of the country has not been tested to such an extent, as many of the reaches have been stopped by the ‘bubble’ of precedent, or by law. Today, it is not uncommon to hear of another executive order or breaking of norms. Through selfishness and blind partisanship, President Trump has exposed the flaws in American democracy and highlights problems that have been onset with the process of begetting a two party system that we see today.
Every president before Donald Trump has accepted the results of the election as it comes, respecting the democratic processes and the counting of ballots, along with the peaceful transition of power from president to president-elect. With taking the results of the election to court, however, President Trump snaps a long-unspoken precedent, paving way for this to be the new norm. Never before, other than the 2000 election, has the results of an election been disputed even remotely to the lengths that it has today. President Trump and Rudy Giuliani are hoping to win back the presidential election by state courts, and hoping to invalidate the results of the ballots and votes . To note, there has been no problem with elections that have to do with “rigging” such as against a political candidate, especially not to such a scale as aforementioned by the President; with nearly 13,000 counties in the US, the likelihood that a widespread plot to rig an election against a candidate seems nearly impossible. This very action of doing so breaks precedents long thought to have been untouchable by rule of respect for democratic processes.
To continue, the peaceful transition of power has been widely arranged as a typical consignment between two differing parties, allowing the other candidate a smooth entry into office, and respecting the democratic process as a result. Even in the 2000 election, with Al Gore winning the popular vote to George Bush, but losing the electoral vote, Vice President Gore eventually conceded to his opponent, saying “And tonight, for the sake of our unity as a people and the strength of our democracy, I offer my concession”. This has been the case for every single presidential election up until the most recent, where President Trump refused to acknowledge the win of President-Elect Biden, subsequently declining him any access to top secret documents by which will be necessary to formulate a stronger nation and maintain national security.
In addition to this, precedents have been a staple of American Democracy, with the two-term limit, to restrictive use of executive orders, to the conservative pardoning of convicted criminals. President Trump has disregarded all three of these precedents. Firstly, when speaking of the two-term limit, the President has been cited as joking about running for a third term, clearly breaking a long-untouched upon law of a two-term individual presidential career. The only person to have run for three terms is Franklin Delano Roosevelt, by which a law was enacted to counteract this presidential overreach. Even as such, FDR did so in war times, not in times of disaster and turmoil.In terms of executive orders, the current president has used the most amount of these of any before him (478 to date), many of which redact executive orders of his predecessors . This not only removes the precedent of conservative usage of executive orders, but sets a scary new one, in signing many more executive orders at will, seemingly disregarding the American political process of passing laws through Congress. To continue, in the past, there have been a very conservative amount of judicial pardons, and even less being that of a colleague to the President. This was, until he had suspiciously pardoned convicted criminals such as Roger Stone, who had been on his staff for a long time before being convicted on tax evasion charges. This, combined with the aforementioned factors prior to such bring forth a glaring discrepancy within the American democratic system.
There are many flaws in American democracy that President Trump has highlighted; the first being the idea that all votes are equal. The American democracy puts the same faith in the educated as we do the uneducated, and the upstanding citizen is the same as a potential felon. Even though all people are created equal, all environments are not, thus all character is not . When valuing everyone’s opinion equally, it is assumed that these opinions are rational and able to reach an informed decision. Trump has played into this by convincing uneducated citizens in rural areas that his policies are substantially more effective than his opposition, despite the result that they have caused.
Secondly, populism is horrendously overused and corrupted, as demonstrated. In proposing policies that appeal to those that a candidate is trying to garner votes from, Trump has talked about “Draining the swamp”, “Building the wall” and removing outsourcing from the agenda and bringing jobs back to the United States. As of today, none of these have happened (to such an extent as promised), however the President has played it as such it does not matter, and is still a close candidate in the 2020 presidential election, win or lose.
Thirdly begins the idea of partisanship, or being unnecessarily biased towards another of a differing view. While this has been an ever-growing problem within the US democratic world within a two-party system , it has come to a head with Trump’s blaming, naming, and claiming. In forcing an “us vs. them” mentality, it became readily apparent that Democrats and Republicans were going to butt heads at every occasion, with little room for compromise. This severely hinders the democratic process, with no side being willing to give any leeway to one another.
Finally begets the concept of corruption. While reasoning for corruption could be a stretch, there are many instances where cheating the democratic process is used to one’s benefit. From the case of Watergate to Baron Robbers to Trump’s pardoning of Roger Stone with little to no reasoning, corruption has been a formidable problem in US democracy. With the President’s recent shady tactics, it becomes alarming as to the holes and cracks that we see in today’s government, therefore providing an even stronger point to showcase how American democratic processes should be reformed, as to avoid such a blatant breach of constitutional values.
As we all continue, there becomes a widespread problem to all Americans as to the strength of our republic. With the loopholes and reparations that the President has engaged in, the erosion of democracy is a very real item that surrounds every citizen today. Dignity in the executive office has disintegrated, and the rest of the country will be soon to follow without significant change.
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