these pro-Trump candidates are attacking American democracy

More than half of Republican candidates for Congress or major public office in the midterm elections deny or question the legitimacy of the results of the 2020 presidential election. The high number raises fears of new challenges during the Nov. 8 midterm elections and the 2024 presidential election. Finally, there is the question of the strength of the American democratic system.

On January 6, 2021, supporters of Donald Trump stormed the Capitol to prevent Joe Biden’s victory from becoming official. For a few hours, the whole world watched this fatal day live, until it returned to silence when night fell. Tensions were still high two weeks later, during the inauguration of a Democratic president, but with the feeling that the worst was being analyzed in retrospect as a coup attempt. “Democracy trembled, but triumphed,” we repeated in Washington.

The campaign for the November 8th mid-term elections has dampened this optimism. The country is still torn apart. With rare exceptions, members of the Republican Party have sided with its “Maga” faction (“Make America Great Again,” Donald Trump’s slogan has become an emblem of the American far right). Despite the removal of the billionaire from social networks, the circulation of “fake news” did not stop. Republican congressional candidates have shared more links to unreliable news sources on Facebook this year than in 2020, according to New York University’s Center for Social Media and Politics.

First of all, the “Big Lie” (the “big lie” of stealing the 2020 election) is firmly entrenched in people’s minds. Donald Trump, who does not exclude that he will be a candidate again in 2024, continues to promote it. About 70% of his Republican supporters believe him. And this has become commonplace among politicians legitimized by Republican midterm candidates and primaries. These people, both candidates and supporters, are now called “election deniers” and “election deniers” in the United States.

On the road to victory

According to the Washington Post’s calculations, the majority of Republican candidates for Congress or major positions in their states dispute or question the legitimacy of the 2020 results. The New York Times conducted an investigation with even more dramatic results.

For some Republicans running in key states, such as Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, that could be detrimental. This fierce supporter of Donald Trump did not hesitate to charter buses to the Capitol on January 6, 2021. He doesn’t recognize Joe Biden’s victory and has even hinted that he won’t endorse the Democrat’s last victory in 2024 if elected governor. In this swing state, won by Donald Trump in 2016 and Joe Biden in 2020, such extreme positions are turning off many moderate voters. As a result, Doug Mastriano is trailing in the polls against his Democratic challenger, Josh Shapiro.

However, most of the “election money” in dispute this year is going toward victory, according to the Washington Post’s calculations. Some are potential stars. “Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, a former TV host, has more voters than Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania. He has a good chance of winning,” notes J. Miles Coleman, political mapper and co-editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball newsletter. , a University of Virginia election forecasting tool. Same for the very extreme Ron Johnson running for Senate in Wisconsin. “He is the favorite and can be re-elected.”

Calling up on November 8th

Lisa Bryant, head of the political science department at California State University in Fresno and an election expert, tries to keep a cool head: “I’ll give you my optimistic view. Maybe once in office, these elected officials will understand how elections really work by following strict rules and not letting misinformation get in the way.” they realize they believe the myth based on The academic admits to a pessimistic reading of the situation.

Many experts worry about the consequences the existence of these “election funds” will have on the already weakened health of American democracy. In the short term, this November, we can expect a lot of challenges from the losers to the results. The Washington Post interviewed Republican candidates who are vying for governor or senator. 10 of them refused to say whether they would accept the verdict of the vote. This climate of mistrust is fueled by an army of supporters cultivated by pro-Trump networks such as the Conservative Partnership Institute, which is set to monitor the election. Precinct workers are afraid of fear.

In the medium-term perspective, the massive entry of these “election funds” into Congress from next January will be synonymous with two turbulent years in Washington. If the House of Representatives switches to the Republican side with a strong “Maga” presence, then the issue of leadership will come up. Who will be the “speaker”, the boss of the majority? It is this person who will be the head of the Chamber in 2024, the year of the next presidential elections, so a new call for the result cannot be ruled out.

Chaos in 2024?

This year 2024 really promises a dose of chaos. What will the “election money” do in 2022 if the race is tight in some states? Secretaries of state — a government function in various American states, not to be confused with the position of head of diplomacy at the federal level — will oversee the organization of ballots and any recounts. Governors will be able to approve or disapprove the verdict of the ballot boxes. “Arizona Republican Kari Lake has made denying Joe Biden a 2020 victory a big part of her campaign. Would she endorse the outcome if the Democrat won the Arizona presidency?” C. Miles Coleman asks.

As for those with majorities in local parliaments, they may be tempted to implement Donald Trump’s dream scenario in 2020: if it doesn’t suit them, refuse the popular vote and draw up their own electoral rolls. the president. In Georgia, Arizona and Michigan, three hotly contested states in 2020, these “election funds” have a particularly large share of the lists, the Washington Post notes.

Pippa Norris, associate professor of comparative politics at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and founder of the Electoral Integrity Project, does not hide her concern: “The only reason the 2020 presidential election will work is if Republican officials take responsibility and obey the law. – for example, in Georgia. They announced the results and the court upheld them. If the “election money” were secretaries of state in charge of elections and exercised their powers in a partisan manner, then we would end up with disputed results. All this takes one or two major states and no one will disagree with the results of the vote. What we saw on January 6, 2021 is therefore a major challenge for the next two election cycles. it keeps me awake at night.(…) I have the impression that we are on the Titanic f heading straight for an iceberg. Everyone sees it, it’s an iceberg. Everyone knows what will happen, but there is no going back.”

In the long-term perspective, the country’s democratic foundations are at risk. If the elections are held in conditions of competition or bias by the party that does not accept political alternation, confidence in the legitimacy of the system is undermined. If the world’s strongest democracy weakens, others will suffer as well.

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