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Anatomy of an American Coup

Von Russell Miller
20.11.2020
, 11:12
President Trump’s refusal to concede defeat in the presidential election is a historic, alarming departure from one of the conventions that has sustained America’s miraculous but always-fragile, centuries old experiment in democracy.

The convention is as old as the country itself and it bears the best possible pedigree. President Washington’s voluntary surrender of executive power in a peaceful transition to President Adams’ administration is a defining moment in political history. And have no doubt. Washington was fully aware of the gravity of his decision to stand aside. He announced his retirement from politics before he knew whether the Federalists, the party for which he had the greatest sympathy, would hold onto power in the 1796 election. In a farewell address published from behind that veil of ignorance, Washington urged the American people to “discountenance whatever may suggest even a suspicion that [America’s hard-won system of republican government] can in any event be abandoned.”

President Trump’s fantastical claims of voter-fraud, supposedly of a magnitude that effectively “stole” the election for the Biden-Harris ticket, do exactly the kind of damage that worried Washington. Trump’s flailing strategy suggests that Americans should disregarded the election… and their republican form of government. This impetuous, self-serving stance risks doing real damage to an electoral system that nobly acquitted itself on November 3rd (and the days after) despite its immense flaws. Among all his attacks on America’s dwindling stock of shared institutions, Trump’s disdain for the franchise must be the most mocking and malign.

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