The American System Is Broken

The American System Is Broken

It should not take the largest voter turnout in U.S. history to guarantee that a president rejected by the majority of the American people actually stops being president.

Americans woke up today to an even more destabilized reality, one shadowed by dangerous uncertainties.

The United States has lived through the largest democratic event in its history. At least 70 million votes have been cast for Joe Biden. As always, however, it remains uncertain whether the U.S. electoral system will ratify, or subvert, the people’s vote. As of midday today, Biden seemed to be moving count-by-count toward the presidency. If he reaches it, he will in all likelihood confront a blocked and paralyzed Senate under Republican leadership. Hopes for decisive action against the pandemic and the economic recession seem dashed.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump demands an early and arbitrary end to voting—and says aloud that he expects the judges he selected to deliver a result favorable to him. Trump may still have to exit office in January. But he delivered proof of concept: corruption, authoritarianism, the abuse of state power—the political price for Trumpism proved remarkably manageable. Slightly better luck, slightly more competent management of the coronavirus, and Trump could likely look forward to four more years of quid pro quo governance. Even as is, Trump’s party seems unchastened.

Through the murk, however, some truths are coming into view. Regardless of the ultimate resolution of the impasse, here are three things that can now be said.