Midterm elections: America’s “Path to chaos”

US democracy’s biggest irony is that, in order to survive, it must demonise itself. One of the most glaring evidence of that has come just hours ago, when President Joe Biden asked Americans to protect the system by voting for his party in midterm elections and snub his opponents who he said were hell-bent on destroying the spirit of freedom.

“We can’t take democracy for granted any longer,” Biden said in a last-minute electoral push, delivering an urgent appeal and stark warning to Americans that the future of their “democracy” could rest on next week’s midterm elections, which his party has turned into a make-or-break moment of truth. “As I stand here today, there are candidates running for every level of office in America – for governor, for Congress, for attorney general, for secretary of state who won’t commit to accepting the results of the elections they’re in. That is the path to chaos in America. It’s unprecedented. It’s unlawful. And it is un-American.”

By that, US democracy does not only demonise itself, but it also confuses watchers. Was Biden implying that a one-party rule is the best way to save “democracy” and avoid chaos? Wasn’t he supposed to say opponents are an integral part of democracy because they help keep the feet of the powers-that-be firmly on the ground? Since when, in a democracy, did lack of, or weakopposition equates to a freer and better society?

Biden’s weird rallying cry is against an eerie backdrop. A recent, damning poll by Quinnipiac University stated that both Democrats and Republicans among the US public were overwhelmingly fearful about the state of American democracy. According to the shocking findings, 69% of Democrats and 69% of Republicans think the nation’s democracy is on the brink of collapse. And the figure for independents is also ominous at 66%.

It’s debatable whether Biden’s belligerence was prompted by that kind of findings, or whether that kind of findings followed this kind of belligerence.“Defending democracy” was often used to deal with restive elements overseas, and if it was ever activated domestically, the usage was never this conspicuous.

Biden has avoided painting the whole Republican Party as an election result denier, thus destroyer of democracy, but he knows all too well that politics only requires him to throw a couple of bad apples in the basket to make buyers avoid the basket entirely.

So, attacks that focused on Donald Trump and his close allies can badly affect the Republican Party. And vice versa. Republican Americans would feel that not only Trump is being targeted, but also the whole Republican apparatus from the grassroots all the way to the very top.

Everything is unfolding with “Reuniting America” rhetoric in full swing yet reality is anything but. The Republicans are realistically aiming to take control of the House of Representatives, while the Democrats are hoping to keep a majority in the Senate. Republican control of either would be enough to wreak havoc on most legislation Biden and his party want to enact and stir congressional probes of his administration.

Therefore, like many places else on earth, attempts to “reunify” can lead to opposite results. And political wars won’t be limited to the assembly hall. It used to be that Democrat and Republican Americans could sit on the same table and laughingly discussed politics. Not anymore. In fact, it is ill-advised to initiate political talks at any social function nowadays. The midterm elections are deepening the divide. Biden’s attitude is not making it any easier.

For starters, democracy dictates that he is not the one who judges which way will lead to chaos. To take democracy a notch higher, even if the majority wants chaos, opposing that would be undemocratic, wouldn’t it? To tell Americans which direction they should take wouldn’t be totally democratic, would it?

As of Thursday evening American time, over 32 million ballots have been cast nationwide, although the official election day is November 8. The voting is taking place as it has become increasingly clear that America’s democracy has been a great paradox.

The system that Biden is trying to protect elected Trump as president and allowed him to control the White House and nuclear missile launch codes for four years. If Trump is as bad as Biden says, the former’s possible return to Twitter would make the whole system even more incomprehensible. Why is Biden trying to protect something that is so wrong?

The president could argue that Trump was the exception rather than the rule, but Trump could also counter that by saying he’s not the one who tries to hijack democracy. Trump has been attacking “fake news” and accusing his political opponents of being behind it. Good thing about democracy is that it allows both men to present their cases loud and clear. “Bad” thing about that is it could lead to chaos.

Whether Biden likes chaos or not, maybe he should accept it. American-style democracy has more or less caused chaos elsewhere but its advocates insist it’s a learning curve. Some clashing conclusions can be drawn from that: Either the “students” are doing it the wrong way, or a real learning process has only just begun for the “teacher.

By Tulsathit Taptim

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