In the United States today, voting is taking place in an unreal atmosphere, with the White House armored with anti-people barriers, Trumpist caravans converging on the polling stations and shop windows boarded up with plywood: an electoral season concluding more like one in Central American than one in the “shining city” of democracy in the West.
And today’s elections could easily fail their main goal, that of deciding the fate of the country—at least in the way of doing so immediately and clearly. Because Donald Trump has made every effort to undermine this electoral test, where the polls show him at a disadvantage. His arbitrary accusations of “huge fraud” are a time bomb placed among the most delicate gears of a democracy that is already on the brink of the precipice.
His stratagem ensures that no verdict from the polls will be accepted by all parties. If he loses, it will be the confirmation of “huge fraud,” of a “deep state conspiracy”—this is what he has been repeating in the last few weeks to his supporters, already addled by a constant diet of paranoid conspiracy. It means that only a decisive national vote will perhaps be able to save the country from the constitutional abyss that risks opening up if Trump declares victory preemptively—as he said he would do—and clogs the courts of appeals in an attempt to stop the vote counting.
After all, over four years, Trumpism has relentlessly attacked democratic norms. Overbearing, authoritarian and xenophobic, Donald Trump’s regime has sealed borders, torn up international treaties, declared trade wars, repealed the right of asylum and raised the banner of isolationism and nationalism. Heartened by the demagoguery of the president, tens of millions of Americans today support the lie of nationalist populism. Digging into the nation’s murkiest past, Trumpism has militarized the ghosts and fears that still stir white America. And it didn’t take much to push a country with a violent and racist history to the brink of a nervous breakdown that now risks precipitating.
After four years of the worst version of himself, culminating in the catastrophic debacle of a pandemic out of control, millions of Americans still support the resentment expressed by Trump. The numbers are certainly disconcerting, but the regime remains fundamentally a minority one: it is highly likely that Donald Trump will lose the popular vote (at least as bad, and likely worse, than four years ago, when he received almost three million fewer votes than his opponent).
Even more so than then, Trump will have to rely on the Electoral College to stay in power, as well as other, more sinister, mechanisms of disempowerment: intimidation, voter suppression and sabotage.
He will have on his side the mechanism of the state, bent to his own purposes by a group of loyalists placed in strategic positions (from the Department of Justice to the Supreme Court), a part of the law and order forces that have been courted and shaped as a Praetorian Guard, and the unknown factor of the “militias,” which have already shown a propensity to circle the wagons and blindly follow their leader.
The 45th president of the United States has prodded, bewildered, goaded and incited the most volatile and maddened parts of his country, armed to the teeth.
The U.S. is coming to this fateful point after a dizzying acceleration and with the Faustian complicity of the oligarchies that have gone with the demagogue to protect the interests of a rapacious twilight-era liberalism.
Trump was an instrument and catalyst of a conservative movement radicalized by Reagan, and since then increasingly unbalanced toward religious fundamentalism and political fanaticism. The new ideologues now openly talk about a war on modernity and the abrogation of rights acquired by minorities, the poor and women.
They are calling for a return to the virtues of the Founding Fathers, who, they say, with the original founding document, never intended to establish a democracy, but a republic protected against the wavering “tyrannies of the majority.”
This Orwellian rewriting of history is fundamental for the next post-democratic phase of liberalism.
The eugenic order is re-established, science is denied, new taxonomies of citizenship are created (with illegal immigrants, semi-citizens, essential and non-essential workers for the productive effort).
The urgent question that America must answer today is: has the point of no return been passed already?
It is a question that concerns much more than America alone, and is directed at the entire West, which shares its imaginary identity, bad colonial consciousness and economic mechanisms. The nationalist-populist virus is very contagious, and highly symptomatic, as demonstrated by the eugenic impulses, denialism and social Darwinism of the Trumpists in Italy as well. A reconfirmation of Trump today would have worldwide repercussions.
For this reason, beyond the enormous work that still remains to be done—as repeated among others by Bernie Sanders, Cornel West, Michael Moore, Angela Davis, Noam Chomsky and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, as well as most Americans—it is absolutely essential to stop Trumpism. Right here. Today.
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