The perspective of well-respected political pundits postulate that US democracy is imperilled by Donald Trump’s candidacy. Fairfax Media columnist, Nicole Hemmer, recently claimed “Trump is undermining the legitimacy of the election” by vociferously declaring it ‘rigged’ against him. His perspective and some of his supportive Republican stalwarts have pointed to “an all-powerful liberal media” that Nicole believes is “at worst group-think, not conspiracy”. She continues that “conservative leaders would have their base think otherwise, that liberal bias is a conspiracy against the right in order to silence them and rob them of political power”. Citing examples in American’s political history when losers gracefully acknowledged and accepted electoral defeat, she is suggesting, as the headline screamed loudly on her article, that Trump is a “destructive loser.”
I am and have never been a Trump advocate, but the greatest aspect of this American election campaign is the freedom he has to voice his opinions, however racist, sexist, ignorant, malevolent or dishonest they are. It is an affirmation of a free and liberal America, manifesting a realpolitik that should engender acclaim, not accusation. Oft attributed to Voltaire as his words. the saying “I disapprove of what you say, but I defend to the death your right to say it” were originally penned by British writer Evelyn Beatrice Hall in her book The Friends of Voltaire published in 1906 as a belief of Voltaire. This belief needs to be remembered before impugning Trump as endangering democracy.
Underlying my perspective is a belief, hopefully not naive and idealistic, that the majority of the American populace who turn out to vote dismiss him as nothing more than a deluded demagogue, reassuring me democracy is still as relevant now as it was when Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg address. Trump’s attempt to emulate him this weekend only distorts this democratic legacy.
I’m not a conspiracy theorist but I have considered whether Trump might actually be right in some of his rhetoric in that the American socio-economic, political Establishment might be fearful that the majority of American people are convinced of his credentials. The fact he even made it as the Republican candidate reflects how millions of citizens supported his views. The Establishment, including the media are frightened by this ‘support’ and that’s the real danger to democracy. The liberties of all Americans are at risk, democracy imploding within the populace not by Trump’s candidature. The millions who adhere to his bombastic antagonism and inflammatory oratory will have to account for the demise of democracy if they vote for him as President. The German people voted for Hitler in democratic elections.
Like many conspiracy theories relating to Marilyn Monroe, JFK and now Trump, the truth will never emerge. It wouldn’t surprise me however if many powerful people in the US are working behind the scenes to ‘trump’ him, not that he needs their help; he sabotages himself with more and more people on a daily basis as I read and hear.
The problem for Trump in alleging a rigged election is that it detracts from his other perspectives and may just alienate even more people as it appears to have already achieved. People might be increasingly mistrustful and cynical about their political landscape, but they don’t want to even think about the veracity of his claim. Far less disturbing to simply denigrate him as a madman. His claim is not a danger to democracy as I conjecture as so many of the world’s so-called democracies are already threatened by an encroachment on human rights and basic freedoms with multi-faceted layers of discrimination and imprisonment for those who dare to dissent or undermine the status quo of political correctness. For example, Australia with its asylum seeker policy, Israel and its treatment of Palestinians, Britain and the murder of Labor MP Jo Cox who was anti-Brexit, France as its banned the burkini and Japan and Turkey who are intimidating their media and curtailing a free press among others. Censorship and fear invade democratic freedoms around the world. Invisible and intangible forces operate in a conspiracy of silence on so many fronts that it could be argued that to hear Trump on the world stage is actually to see genuine democracy at work. Let the people decide on November 8 and I can only hope the ensuing silence is deafening to Trump and his entourage. If there is a conspiracy, I hope its ideology is effective enough to convince the majority of Americans to vote against him. Democracy will be the real winner.