US ELECTION

US elections not so different from Africa's

There were accusations ofrigging in the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections

In Summary

• We have a sitting US president who stands defeated as per the projections of the Associated Press and all other major media outlets - but who hasn’t conceded defeat.

• This is quite telling of a system that has been billed as the best democracy that has ever been invented.

 

President Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden.
ADVERSARIES: President Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden.
Image: REUTERS

US presidential elections have been quite dramatic to say the least.

We have a sitting president who stands defeated according to projections of The Associated Press and all other major media outlets, but who hasn’t conceded defeat. He has rather chosen to go to court, calling for a recount in Georgia and falsely claiming he won in Arizona and Pennsylvania.

This is quite telling of a system that has been billed as the best democracy ever invented.

However, the truth of the matter is that there is a big problem with democracy in that it doesn’t always function right.

To begin with, the democratic primaries seem to have been deliberately made to slow down the momentum of Bernie Sanders, a clear favorite amongst the youth due to his far left-leaning ideology - coming a close second, just as in 2016.

However, he later on rallied behind his party so vociferously, arguing the case for Joe Biden, sometimes even better than Joe himself. The lesson learnt here is that even in America, party primaries aren’t necessarily a fair affair.

Second, the presidential debates that have been the cornerstone of exposition of public policy over the years were rather acrimonious this time round, especially the first.

Many media outlets across the world described them as childish and embarrassing to the American people. It’s unheard of that the US can be lectured to by its ‘subjects’, as this has been the preserve of ‘Uncle Sam’ to carry the big stick in other peoples’ elections.

Third, US citizens went on a gun buying and stock-piling spree due to the fear of post-election violence, with many shops closing down due to the fear of looting.

Social media was awash with images and videos of animosity between groups of Republicans and Democrats, thanks to the ‘democracy’ of social media. It's a far cry from mainstream media that has always painted a rosy picture of life in the US.

Demonstrations continue across several cities in the US, with Trump supporters refusing to acknowledge the Biden-Harris win.

Fourth, the two-party system of Democrats and Republicans has led Americans into an ideological gridlock, bordering on the tribal. These supra identities that proffer one’s political choice ex ante aren’t so different after all from the tribal voting pattern that is perennial in our Kenyan elections.

Fifth, there is the question of the failure of multiculturalism in that more than72 million Americans voted for ‘Trumpism’ against 77 million for Biden. This clearly depicts a county highly divided along racial and ethnic lines.

The war between the majority White and the coalition of the majority minorities and women is clearly visible, with Biden raking in an extra five million votes. This trend started in the 2000 elections between Al Gore and George Bush, and was replicated in 2016 between Hillary Clinton and Trump.

Al Gore and Hillary (Democrats) won the popular vote but didn’t win the presidency. The Biden-Harris ticket was billed as exactly that: a coalition of liberal progressive Whites on one hand and women and ethno-racial minorities on the other. This followed the successful experimentation with the Obama candidature that gave the US its first Black president.

Republicans are thus likely to follow suit in the near future, especially with a Hispanic candidate.

Sixth, there have been accusations of rigging in the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections. In 2016, it was proven that Russia interfered with elections in favour of Trump, despite Hillary winning the popular vote.

In 2000, Florida Governor Jeb Bush and brother to Bush helped the latter to win the 29 electoral votes that ultimately decided the presidential outcome. Trump is alleging that some mail-in ballots were counted past the deadline, thereby giving his opponent an undue advantage. He has since gone to court.

Seventh, the media has shown its bias in presidential election reporting and failed to maintain its neutrality. Notorious for this behaviour is CNN that is Democrat-leaning and FOX news that is Republican-leaning.

Further, Facebook donated more than $400 million (Sh40 billion) to finance the staffing and infrastructure of small precincts to facilitate the conduct of elections. This was owing to the constraints occasioned by Covid-19.

However, the real intention was to retaliate against the measures taken by the Trump administration in controlling the monopolistic tendencies of big tech in pre-conditioning the electoral choices of their users.

This is more so after after companies such as Cambridge Analytica interfered in various elections, including Kenya’s in 2017. Trump and the Russians know this only too well.

All in all, the American system still works due to strong institutions, despite protests from the incumbent President. This gives hope that democracy with all its shortcomings is the best form of government, since its rival, the Chinese Communist Party, is yet to be replicated across the world.

The US elections aren’t so different from Africa's after all, are they?