The Crisis of American Democracy Is Not Over

The Crisis of American Democracy Is Not Over

To succeed, the president-elect will have to do more than address the pandemic and revive the American economy.

The 2020 campaign was long and brutal, unfolding before a backdrop of death and economic decline. When all the votes are counted, a challenger will have unseated an incumbent president for only the 10th time in American history. Donald Trump’s presidency is over.

Blinded by their contempt for Hillary Clinton, much of the 2016 electorate failed to see the danger Trump posed to popular sovereignty. Since taking office, the president has used the levers of government to enrich himself and his allies; purge those who resisted his schemes; turn the powers of law enforcement and intelligence agencies against his enemies and apply those powers to benefit his co-conspirators; socially engineer a whiter America in order to preserve the nation’s traditional aristocracy of race; and attempt to destroy the ability of the United States to hold free and fair elections. Even now, he calls for the results to be altered in his favor—a call that the majority of his supporters have refused. But just enough of them have embraced it to remind everyone of the stakes.

That Trump’s defeat came at former Vice President Joe Biden’s hands is no small thing. After all, Trump was impeached for attempting to blackmail the prime minister of Ukraine into framing Biden for a non-existent crime for the sole purpose of crippling Biden’s bid for the presidency. The seemingly unstoppable force of a blue wave conveyed in poll after poll met the immovable object of a red wave that most polls failed to detect. But the political coalition supporting the former vice president was large and resilient enough to secure a victory anyway. Perhaps Trump was right to fear him.