Maribel Hastings is executive advisor for America’s Voice and David Torres is advisor for Spanish-language media for America’s Voice
While President Donald Trump defies the Coronavirus with packed rallies that have become hotbeds of contagion, though his loyal fans don’t care, across the country there are other equally packed places. But these others are places full of voters who are standing in long and, in many cases, slow lines to exercise their right to vote before the official day of suffrage in person, on November 3. It’s a sign that millions are leaving nothing to chance, especially in the face of Trump’s threats to challenge the results if he loses reelection.
It is, in fact, a tacit and explicit message from a citizenry that still believes in democracy and the values that it emanates, based on an urgent and civilized public response to a political anomaly that is exacerbated by the day. In other words, if everything were normal as in previous elections, the bulk of voters would not live in this kind of state of electoral emergency and would wait patiently for the day of the elections, which are usually more festive than worrying.
For example, as of Sunday, nearly 28 million Americans had voted early across the country, according to an analysis by Target Smart. 53% of the upfront votes are for Democrats and 36% for Republicans. The Democratic turnout is six times the number of anticipated votes in 2016 for the same date, while the Republican turnout is four times greater. Likewise, 2020 is registering an increase in the participation of all ethnic groups, compared to 2016, according to the same analysis.
These comparative figures corroborate that the enthusiasm of yesteryear is becoming the concern of today, in the sense that it is not only desired to preserve the American democratic system, but also that the translated popular will not be further vitiated, as in 2016 in votes, which is the very basis of democracy.
The interesting thing is that the general idea was that the pandemic was going to deal a blow to electoral participation, but so far the story that emerges seems to be that it is the opposite. Perhaps due to the pandemic itself or anticipating the unforeseen on Election Day, millions have decided to vote in advance and by mail.
Indeed, COVID-19 has also been added as a political catalyst in this electoral process among those who have given themselves fully to deny its existence and those who have preferred to follow all security protocols in the face of this public health emergency. And in the middle of these two ways, however, what it is about is to exercise an inalienable right with a flavor of urgency in this 2020.
Of course, nothing is set in stone until the last vote is tabulated, and yet anything can happen with a president who has dedicated himself to de-legitimizing the electoral process by saying that voting by mail is “fraudulent” and has refused to declare whether he will accept the results in case of losing, a silence that heralds post-electoral instability that is not convenient for anyone.
In fact, this weekend at one of his campaign rallies he even said that Democrat Joe Biden is the “worst candidate” in history and that if he loses to the Democrat “I may have to leave the country.” If Trump really believed fully in democracy, he would not even dare to mention the latter, a situation that is typical of dictatorial regimes that do persecute their opponents and their critics. Unless he is afraid that all the investigations against him will result in charges once he is a Trump citizen again, if he is not reelected.
It happens that after his disastrous first presidential debate followed by his diagnosis of COVID-19 and the national polls that, so far, favor Democrat Biden, the already erratic behavior of President Trump has been exacerbated. If earlier it was clear that Trump lacks the capacity to lead this nation, now there is no doubt.
For the past nearly four years of the Trump administration, chaos has reigned in our domestic and foreign policy. Its public policies, especially in immigration, are sustained by hatred, xenophobia and racism, taking as permanent scapegoats the undocumented and their families without giving them a single respite; in fact, he seems amused by the way he mistreats them. His disdain for our democratic system has grown, acting as if institutions and agencies exist to serve him personally or to advance his agenda and not that of the nation.
That is, his fondness for dictators, his sordid fiscal problems, his gall in using the presidency for his personal financial gain, his eagerness to stoke racial divisions, his sympathy for white supremacists, his contempt for science and more recently his mismanagement of the pandemic are just some of the issues that show that this president represents a threat to this country. Another four years of Trump may inflict damage that would take decades to reverse; Or, in any case, that he would return to the United States for decades to place it at a time when minorities did not count and were outraged by discrimination and racism based on white privilege.
At the moment, voters are showing enthusiasm to participate in the electoral process, either in pursuit of a change of command that brings sanity and stability, or four more years of chaos.