By Ramin Mazaheri
In the 21st century a disputed vote in the US presidential election is almost a 50-50 proposition: if November’s popular and electoral college votes do not correspond, yet again that would mark the third such occurrence in the last six presidential elections.
A disputed vote has produced dramatic changes: the disputed election of Republican Rutherford (also known as “Rutherfraud”) B. Hayes in 1876 forced a political bargain which saw Democrats win the withdrawal of Northern post-Civil War troops, thus ending the Reconstruction Era and the integration of African-Americans after a scant 11 years of efforts. Perhaps the most notable point here is just how long the Republican/Democrat duopoly has dominated the United States - the Democratic Party is the oldest voter-based political party in the world, and the entrenched privileges they and Republicans have colluded to cement preclude the rising of any third-party outsiders.
And yet this year we have Donald Trump, who is a genuine political outsider.
It’s vital to remember that Trump was rejected by the Republican establishment all the way up until the eve of the Republican National Convention in May 2016. While the mainstream media and Democrats immediately and incorrectly assumed Trump was as solid a Republican as Abraham Lincoln - mainly because everything must fit into their simple “us vs. them” straitjacket of a worldview - Trump supporters knew better.
The primary catalyst for Trump’s election was his promise to “drain the Swamp” (not literally, even though Washington D.C. was constructed on former swampland), and that promise was not limited to just “Crooked Hillary” but political creatures of both parties. Indeed, the common lament over the past four years among Trumpers is that he has not fulfilled his campaign promise to lead a China-like drive against corruption because “they won’t let him”, and “they” includes Republicans as well.
Trump still preserves this outsider status because he is still not a real politician - he lacks a coherent ideology and a grassroots base to implement it - and this is why he leads no actual third party threat. This is unlike someone whom Trump hopes to join on Mount Rushmore: Teddy Roosevelt, who in 1912 was able to form the last major third party in the US - the Progressive Party (this party is often referred to as the “Bull Moose Party” in modern America, obviously to hide the party’s leftist basis), which eventually reconciled with the Republicans after the “clearly insane” (per author Mark Twain) and rabidly imperialist Roosevelt sold out already rather right-wing US progressivism.
What “Trumpism” has proven to be after four years is decidedly not a political party - Republicans co-opted him in order to both contain him and to preserve the American duopoly - but an entirely misguided hero worship, which was resorted to out of the desperation and instability caused by 40 years of neoliberal, unpatriotic and corrupt governance. “Trumpism” is thus not even really an ideology of hero worship but a gestalt cultural feeling, and a quite negative one.
A ‘Hot Fall’ - Trump and Trumpers go down with guns blazing
Many non-Trumpers understand this, and that’s why they echo the talk around the PressTV newsroom, which is that of a “Hot Fall” scenario: Trump loses both the popular and electoral college votes yet refuses to leave office. Trump, cognisant that the past four years has not increased affection for “the Swamp”, and also that his own popularity has endured despite the spectacular and unprecedented Deep State campaigns against him, thus encourages his supporters to rally in the streets in a long-awaited re-enactment of The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral or, in modern right-wing slang, “the Boogaloo”.
It’s a plausible scenario, indeed. The “only in America” scene of 17-year old Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha, Wisconsin, killing in the streets with an AR-15 semi-automatic looked like a harbinger to many.
The likelihood of this “Hot Fall”, with Trump eventually leaving but only with the country even more divided than it has been so far in 2020, cannot be discounted. However I don’t predict that will happen.
Being a journalist who simply must query public opinion, I have asked many Americans for their thoughts on the election and about the question of a disputed vote this November. I have been rather swayed by the conservatives point of view, which is: Republicans are simply more reasonable than Democrats, and if they lose the election they will reasonably withdraw in order to preserve the country (as they are more patriotic as well).
I find that analysis - which I am merely relating from American Republicans - very astute. It doesn’t - and cannot - fully take into account the effects of a seriously disputed election, but I think it will hold true.
What I predict to be more likely is the reverse scenario, an “Icy Crusade” led by embittered Democrats: Whether the election is disputed or not, a Trump victory will produce massive anti-Trump demonstrations starting on November 4 and lasting until 2024.
Frankly, I am hopeful this occurs - Trump has pulled the sheet off the face of American fascism, finally, and four years has not produced enough political modernity. America, today’s imperial Rome, has so very much to learn and unlearn, after all.
An ‘Icy Crusade’ - more of Americans telling others how they must live & feel
It should be remembered that - because half the electorate refuses to participate - Democratic voters are a rather fanatical minority of 25%. This is the same amount of the electorate which France’s Emmanuel Macron genuinely won in 2017, and his supporters are fanatically loyal as well - what else should we term continuing to support the weekly brutality against the Yellow Vests, which only ended with the coronavirus? Indeed, we cannot even compare the recent political repression in the US to that of France.
It must be remembered that partisan Democrats are as arrogant (imperialistic) and evangelistic as any Republican in the Pentagon and always have been: just ask a Southerner after the Civil War, or an American Indian, for that matter.
The modern Democrat does not explicitly evangelise for Protestantism and the racist paternalism of taking care of “our little brown brothers” (a historical term which was applied to the conquest of the Philippines, but which is obviously indicative of the fundamentally imperialistic mentality of even “good Americans”), but they certainly rabidly evangelise for other causes: political correctness, transgender bathrooms, against Trump, etc.
A Trump victory - disputed or not - will thus lead to more outpouring of this same evangelical, self-righteous, “Icy Crusade” which non-White Americans have been subjected to for two centuries. Crucially, the “Icy Crusade” will be just as fake-leftist as the other imperial crusades, with total intolerance of and enmity towards the “other” at its root.
I think this debilitating, annoying, politically feckless Democratic evangelism is the more likely post-election scenario because I think Trump will prevail over a second consecutive awful Democratic candidate.
Certainly, Democrats’ own machinations have been precisely calibrated so that they could also dispute the election, but perhaps without AR-15s: I refer to the hysterical push for massive mail-in ballots, which are certain to arrive late, take long to count, have “hanging chads” and foment other disputes. The choice was always clear: either hold the election on time, like so many other elections worldwide in 2020, or postpone the election, like so many other elections worldwide in 2020.
In order to hedge their bet regarding whether Deep State machinations and mainstream media campaigns do not succeed in their goal of discrediting/denying the very real “Trumpism” cultural feeling, Democrats have seemingly guaranteed the election will not be resolved on November 3 and that cultural discord will ensue.
An “Icy Crusade” can be avoided in this scenario if Democrats show as much calm reasonableness as many US conservatives often evince and as much concern for the good of the nation. However, what they must also abandon is their often undeserved moral self-righteousness - that is something which goes back to the Civil War in the north and eastern parts of the United States, and this is very unlikely to be easily uprooted.
It should be remembered that America’s 1% appears to have ensured that no matter what happens the country will be divided in order to oust the outsider Trump: unchecked coronavirus hysteria which gutted the economy, the refusal to get a second stimulus bill passed to provide some economic stability, the refusal to provide physical security amid legitimate rebellions and illegitimate looting, undermining trust in the election process by hysterically blaming Russia, and this list can go on and on. Both sides have been divided, and any modern leftist analysis explains this by the fact that under modern Western neoliberalism the 1% divides and conquers at home as well as abroad.
Therefore, there is much grounds for PressTV employees to bandy about the possibilities of either a “Hot Fall” or an “Icy Crusade” scenario around a cup of tea. Certainly, such conversations end with mutual expressions of relief that Iran is not like that.
Ramin Mazaheri is currently covering the US elections. He is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism' as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.
(The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Press TV.)