U.S. President-elect Joseph Biden and his running mate, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, will take the oath of office at midday on 20thJanuary 2021. Come rain, come shine. It is certainty certain.
Yet, 70 days before inauguration day, millions of Americans are steeped in doubt, worried sick, and troubled that something may go amiss this time around.
A lot seems out of joint. Key word “seems”.
Incumbent President Donald Trump seems, so far, to be bent on hanging on to power. He has, so far, refused to concede the race. He seems bent on selling baseless, fact-free claims of having won the November 3 ballot. He has alleged widespread voter fraud in battleground states that went for his rival. He seems to want all votes counted except votes that show him losing. His campaign and top Republican in the legislature either cheered him on or have refrained from speaking up against his refusal to accept the outcome of the ballot.
Americans as a whole, but especially those who are overjoyed by the Biden-Harris victory; those who poured into spontaneous street celebrations across the country when the race was called last Saturday may finally be able to fully appreciate why democracy is so precious. It is clear to everyone – losers and winners – that democracy is not to be taken for granted, even in America.
In so many countries around the globe, notably across the African continent, the inexistent massive voter fraud alleged in the United States is the only reality citizens know. Incumbent presidents abuse every ounce of their enormous presidential powers to stage electoral hold-ups. Incumbents flood the courts with judges who worship them as gods, ordained to win every ballot. Incumbents have rewritten constitutions any number of times necessary to maintain them in power until the second coming of Jesus Christ. And, in case the people agitate, they deploy their nation’s armed and security forces to impose the will of the election thief in the presidential palace over the will of the people who, alone should hire and fire their government.
As certain as inauguration day is 20thJanuary 2021 at midday, America’s rock solid, century-old institutions, and long tradition of peaceful transfer of power, have been tested and found to be very slightly rusty. Banana Republics are born when institutions failed to address the challenges of their time.
Democracy and the republic will not only survive in the United States. They will thrive because whatever shortcomings the November 3 ballot unveiled can and will be attended to between now and the next time America votes. Or so you think?
The long lines, snaking around buildings and several blocks in which citizens spend hours without end in order to vote are decried every round of voting, yet nothing concrete happens to shorten the lines and the wait.
For all of its shortcomings, the November 3 ballot reaffirmed four things. First, it proved, anew, that there is real power in the vote of the people. The Biden-Harris win is, without an iota of doubt, the will of the people, indeed. Second, everyone now knows that there is no shortage of clever ways to try to steal elections – even in America. Third, it proved that election hold-ups cannot be thought of as a preserve of some “S-Hole” countries. If America sleeps at the wheel, her democracy will be gone when she wakes. Fourth, and this truly matters, Africa’s democratization will continue to stumble and fail at the hands of election robbers unless America invests more to advance democracy on the continent. Fifth, it is precisely now that tyrants across the globe, notably in Africa, can refer to the cacophony of America’s last presidential ballot to try to insulate themselves from scrutiny. America must pick herself up, dust herself clean and find its voice in advocacy for democracy again.
Fellow Americans now know that every people do not always have the government they deserve, because not every people are as blessed as Americans are to truly pick the government they deserve and dump the one they are truly dying to fire.