14 Nov US & SA – Part 1: The System, Confusion & Issues
US & SA – Part 1: The System, Confusion & Issues
It’s been an eventful few weeks in the US and for those watching the US elections. We delved into all the news, views and analyses of these elections and their implications for saffas both local and abroad.
Though our initial analysis had clocked in at the length of a novel, we’ve been compelled to condense matters for the sake of both brevity and comprehension.
So here’s our short take on the US government, elections and politics. In part two we’ll cover the implications for SA.
Understanding US politics
There are several reasons why saffas and even US citizens may be confused with the US electoral system and purported attacks against it from within the ruling party itself.
There are vast differences between the US government, constitution, structures and electoral system compared to the South African system and other world regions.
For the sake of brevity, we will focus on the federal government. Note, however, that at a state government level, the governor of the state serves as the leader of the respective states and is elected. Each state can be viewed as a semi-sovereign territory within the United States.
Governors hold significant power over the local constitution, legislation, policy, intrastate commerce, appointing officials, controlling state budget and so forth. Governors can also appoint senators to empty seats for their state (in 47 states). Gubernatorial elections are usually held every four years, save for Vermont and New Hampshire which have two year tenures.
Major points and differences
Let’s highlight main points and differences between the USA and South Africa
The US electoral system is based on a plurality voting system when it comes to the presidential vote and many other elections. This means that the person or party who gets the most votes takes all the votes or seats for the region. In SA terms this would be the equivalent of the ANC taking all seats in parliament save for the Western Cape, which would hold all seats for the DA – there would be no other representation for other parties.
Disproportional/non-individual voter representation
The US does not consider each individual vote in most elections, but rather allocates electoral college seats to each state (for the most part). If a party wins the majority of votes for a state, they get all the electoral college votes for the state. Electoral college voters generally pledge to vote for a certain candidate and party, but this is not required, so they can become faithless voters by voting against their pledged votes. This is rare, and the highest faithless votes for any election was in 2016.
The US is made up of three branches, the Executive branch (president and cabinet), the Legislative Branch (Congress) and the Judicial branch, which is the Supreme Court and other courts.
Divided congress, divided powers
US Congress is divided into two parts, with the Senate playing a pivotal role in the election and any decisions made around legislation, appointments and authority vested in various groups.
Congress consists of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The House has a tentative structure and follows a set agenda and rules and is headed by the Speaker of the House. The Senate is not bound to a set structure determined by the Constitution. The Senate is also in charge of ratifying laws, confirming appointments, removing individuals from office, tabling legislation and confirming laws.
Although the Senate is ‘hypothetically’ chosen by public vote, senate seats are not proportional to population. The initial thought behind this system had been to enable all states equal representation, but over the years this system has become increasingly skewed – a state such as Wisconsin with +/- half a million residents has an equal amount of senate seats as a state like California with +/- 40 million residents.
The House of Representatives, although the only body which can impeach any public figure, has no power to enforce investigation, removal or action against impeached persons.
The President serves for 4 year terms with a maximum of two terms.
Senators serve for 6 years, with a third of the senate up for reelection every two years. Senators can serve indefinite 6-year terms.
The entire House of Representatives is reelected every 2 years. Representatives can serve indefinite 2-year terms.
Supreme court judges are elected for life and are replaced on retirement, death or impeachment.
Judicial branch – power for life
The Judicial branch of government, headed by the Supreme Court, is not tightly restricted by the Constitution or Constitutional Court as in South Africa, instead, Supreme Court judges are allowed to interpret and enforce legislation as they see fit.
For a Supreme Court Judge to be removed through impeachment, the removal must be enforced by the Senate, provided the legislation which supports their impeachment and trial has been confirmed by the Supreme Court.
Supreme Court Judges are chosen by the President and the President’s choice is confirmed by the Senate.
In the US, party nominees are chosen through primaries and caucuses.
During these primaries and caucuses, votes are cast for delegates who in turn vote for their preferred nominee during the national convention.
The GOP and DNC don’t have the same system for their primaries and caucuses, and GOP votes are usually cast via secret ballots. Both parties allocate a percentage of votes to unpledged or superdelegates. These delegates aren’t initially pledged to any nominee and can vote for any nominee during the national convention.
The national convention is initiated by a Call to Convention,
The GOP favours casting secret ballots during caucuses, while the DNC favours semi-public debate and clusters who then
Nominees can concede and pledge their votes to other nominees. This is usually done to unite a party behind a certain leader where party lines are divided—as was the case with Bernie Sanders. During the national convention, nominees will also choose their running mates, who are the Vice-President nominees.
Though independent parties also have conventions, they don’t hold primaries or caucuses.
Once the conventions have decided on their presidential nominees, these leaders then engage with US citizens to gain support and debate crucial matters with the opposition.
The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) decides how many presidential candidate debates will be held and when. Three debates are usually held between the presidential candidates of opposing parties, with one debate between the running mates (vice presidential candidates). Due to Covid-19, certain concessions were made in 2020.
The Election process
Eligibility to vote relies on several factors, and there are differences between states, especially with regards to exclusions. Criteria include age, citizenship, residency, criminal record, and so forth.
Voters can choose between absentee/mail-in ballots or in-person voting on the day of the election. Though most states have made a concession for absentee ballots during Covid-19, some have other criteria which must be met to qualify for absentee voting.
Historically, absentee ballots could be counted before the date of the election, but this was barred in the 2020 election. Absentee ballots are generally accepted after the election date, provided they are postmarked before or on the date of the election.
In-person voting can be done at various polling stations. Different states have different types of ballot casting, including paper ballots or electronic ballots. Each party is allowed a certain number of observers at each station who can oversee the voting process.
Different states allow for counting over different periods. Some require counts to be completed within a few days while others allow for counting over several weeks.
Ballots differ between states and districts, and can include: Ballots can include:
- Partisan vote: Party vote
- Presidential team: President and Vice-president team
- US and State Senators
- US and State House representatives
- State Governors and Lieutenant Governors
- State auditors, supreme court judges, inspectors, attorney generals and treasurers
- US and State Constitutional amendments
- County commissioners, supervisors, superintendents and treasurers
- Ward council members
- School district office board members
- Run-off and transition
Some states require that nominees win by a certain margin. Should votes fall too close between candidates in these margins, then they resort to recounting or run-off elections.
The Senate run-off elections are usually held early in January, +/- 2 weeks before the elected President is inaugurated.
During the run-off and transition, court cases are the norm as many politicians request recounts, investigations or other interventions should they believe voting to have been unfair or fraudulent.
As there is usually also a clear presidential winner, this elected president and their party will begin a transition process where authority, processes and management is systematically transferred from the ruling party to the elected party (should a different party have won the election).
2020 Elections: what went wrong?
Well, technically nothing went wrong, though there were some technical difficulties. The news has been rampant with widespread accusations of voter fraud, but there are some significant issues with the rationale which postulates voter fraud. Without substantial proof, such claims are swiftly ignored and cases either thrown out or withdrawn.
At present, most GOP claims have been debunked and most filed suits either rejected by the courts or withdrawn by the GOP themselves. President Trump has, however, indicated that he’d fired head of US Cybersecurity, Christopher Krebs, following Krebs’ assertion that no voter fraud had occurred.
Trump has been prompted to spend nearly $10 million on a recount in Wisconsin, and has challenged purported concessions made for mail-in ballots which had technicality issues, but this is still being disputed.
The Era of ‘fake news’
One of the greatest issues in debunking or confirming any claims is the credibility of the media.
‘Fake news’ was first coined by Buzzfeed media editor Craig Silverman, after seeing the sudden influx of fake news headlines online in 2016. These headlines predominantly supported the Trump presidency, and have since been attributed to foreign bots. Ironically, it would become one of president Trump’s most used phrases and has been used predominantly to counterclaims against his person, politics and businesses.
Problematically, in an era where most people consume news via social media, people are swift to both consume fake news and use it as a counter-argument for protecting their personal bias.
Such is the outrage, that more conservative social media consumers have been flocking to the social media network, Parler, in a purported effort to sidestep news intervention by platforms like Twitter and Facebook who seek to eliminate fake news.
Though there is nothing wrong with joining any social groups who align with your ideologies and views, politicians have been hijacking such echo-chambers to spread their own views, knowing that such views will go mostly unchallenged.
In linguistics this is a phenomena known as self-censorship; as one tries to eliminate censorship, you move towards safer and more insular groups where your views can be voiced, but in doing so you eliminate any information which could provide objective views and lead to intellectual growth.
Whether one’s leanings be left or right, there is a tendency to regulate language and what may be said or heard. Thus groups who proclaim ‘freedom of speech’ as their buffer tend to become increasingly obscure to the point where only certain speech is tolerated, while groups who canvass for ‘tolerance’ tend to move towards an extreme stance of intolerance.
This phenomena has made it increasingly difficult to provide consumers with unbiased media as a respectful rhetoric and debating is no longer the standard.
Debates are fought with memes, insults and violent call for opposition which does not uphold conventional standards for objective reporting and unbiased journalism.
Voting irregularities are rare
Voter fraud has been identified in all elections since the dawn of politics, but both government and independent auditors and investigators indicate that it’s incredibly rare, and has decreased significantly over the years.
For the most part, as Matt Doig—investigative editor for USA Today—indicates, irregularities usually come down to simple errors, and such errors usually affect single ballots or a very small pool of ballots. As most polling station volunteers are retirees, there are sometimes errors where new voting methods are introduced.
Such errors include:
- ticking off the wrong voter name where the name reoccurs
- a delay in updating deceased voters where deaths occur between the date a mail-in ballot was sent and the date of the election
- delay in updating in-person versus mail-in ballot authentication
Historically, certain voters have also been disqualified due to arbitrary rules, but experts indicate that this has historically always had a negative impact on the DNC and not the GOP, as these rules usually affect minorities.
Though a memory card with 2 755 uncounted votes was discovered in Fayette County, these votes will not have any significant bearing on the election results.
What’s good for the goose…
One of the biggest issues with voter fraud claims, is that it seems to focus primarily on the presidential vote. Claims against senate or representative voter fraud have not been supported, but given that these votes are cast on a single ballot, if the presidential vote is deemed fraudulent, then the Senate vote should also be scrapped—something which has not been supported by the GOP.
The GOP made a rather big fuss about out-of-state votes for certain states (such as Nevada), claiming that tens of thousands of voters registered in these areas weren’t in their states during voting. The number was later reduced to around 3 000.
The problem with this view is that most people who voted out-of-state are, in fact, US servicemen and women who had been relocated to other states, or students at college. These votes are perfectly legal.
Dominion system hack?
President Trump claimed on Twitter that the Dominion Voting System deleted 2.7 million Trump votes nationwide. The confusion came in as someone close to the president had claimed that Dominion was owned by the Clintons and Nancy Pelosi. The person who had made this assertion based it on Dominion’s philanthropic and lobbying donations made in the past—but what they failed to note was that Dominion had made such donations to both the GOP and DNC.
The ‘facts’ used by Trump to support his claims stemmed from an OANN report which cited election monitoring group Edison Research as source of the information. Edison Research president Larry Rosin stated that no such report was ever produced and they have not found evidence of voter fraud.
Other instances of fraud attributed to Dominion related to wrongful reporting and uncounted votes.
In the first instance, it came down to human error as an Antrim County clerk had incorrectly configured the machine’s reporting function. This issue was rectified and the voter count was updated. No further human error was found throughout the country.
The latter was merely a delay in voter count, as no votes were deleted, they were merely not counted as swiftly as other votes.
Confusion over naming conventions
Two issues which seem to support conspiracy theorists who don’t seem to have access to authentic news is a misunderstanding around naming conventions.
Some individuals, sadly, don’t seem to know that the state of Georgia has a namesake in Eurasia—the country, Georgia. As faux news spread of millions of votes either added or deleted, many individuals took to Google to gauge the population of Georgia and compare this to the votes cast and…were shocked to find that there was a disparity between the 3,7 million population of Georgia and the 5 million+ ballots cast in Georgia. This, of course, coming down to simple Geographic knowledge as they’d compared votes against country population.
The Associated Press
Both within the USA and outside the country’s borders, many people seem rather confused that a ‘press’ agency would be the authority on vote counting. Well, perhaps this would also prompt the Associated Press to consider a rebrand.
This non-governmental organisation does technically disseminate information to news agencies, but its primary task has always been to count votes, call races and explain the electorate. The AP has been responsible for voter count since 1848, and has always delivered accurate results. Remember that the final results are verified by the Senate, yet there has been no historical situation where the AP has made a wrong call.
Mail-in/absentee voting was purposely ‘created’ in order to allow servicemen and women in the military, navy, airforce or other security assignments the ability to vote.
Historically, one of the greatest groups of people who support the GOP has been the US army. Though Trump has lost a significant chunk of these voters, his call for supporters not to vote via mail and claims that this form of voting is fraudulent undermines the very voter base for whom mail-in ballots were intended.
If one person’s vote via mail is as fraudulent as the next, then the inference is that no one in the army (without access to a voting station) has a valid vote.
Absentee ballots presented further confusion as an exorbitant amount of absentee ballots were cast in 2020 due to Covid-19.
Researcher indicates that most voters who had used absentee ballots were non-GOP voters; as the DNC had urged voters to practice social distancing during the pandemic, while the GOP does not support this view for the most part.
As the Trump presidency had succeeded in a ‘stay’ of absentee ballot counts until the date of the election, the initial voter count for many areas favoured the GOP, until the mail-in ballot count caught up.
If now, why not then?
Another issue with the accusation of voter fraud is that such accusations have been made before, but opposed by the GOP. In 2016 Jill Stein for the Green Party made appeals for three state recounts as well as the national presidential vote. Al Gore had also appealed for a recount in 2000.
Stein had accused the voting machines of hacking, something which seems to reflect the Republican narrative verbatim at present. Her accusations have been widely and erroneously attributed to Hillary Clinton. The Democrats and Hillary Clinton, had not pushed the recount agenda at the time, and had merely paid for lawyers to be present at the recount sites.
Many parties, individuals and politicians also had concerns over Russian interference in the 2016 elections, but such claims have been consistently opposed by the GOP, and investigations opposed by the Senate.
Trump’s Republican team had stated at the time (late November 2016), “If the Bureau of Elections moves forward with the recount, it will waste the State’s scarce resources, create a logistical nightmare for counties across the State, and assure that Michigan’s Electoral College voters will not be counted,”
These sentiments were echoed by Attorney General for Michigan, Bill Schuette, who’d stated that a recount would, “put the state’s voters at risk of paying millions and potentially losing their voice in the Electoral College in the process.”
The same disparity seems to be maintained between supporters of both Biden and Trump when it comes to allegations of sexual assault or financial misconduct. Though both parties and their supporters are eager to throw around accusations of misconduct, neither seems keen to maintain an open debate, lawful investigation or public scrutiny of such matters. What both parties miss in this debate is that transgressions aren’t mutually exclusive; both parties can be wrong and right at the same time. The truth does not uphold polar confirmations of right or wrong.
It’s not over yet!
Another claim touted by GOP proponents is the fact that voter count is not finalised.
Though this is true, it should be noted that the Associated Press calls elections based on total voter count for a region compared to total population. In regions where votes were still outstanding, the AP therefore makes a decision fairly early for certain states as it would not be possible for an opponent to take the lead.
The AP does not make any decisions on fraud, but will stall an announcement if the government calls for a recount—as is the case in Georgia.
Even if the Georgia recount would yield different results, however, Biden has still taken the majority of electoral college votes (by 20 thus far). The Georgia vote would therefore only serve to allocate 16 votes to either Biden or Trump’s electoral college total, with.
No matter Georgia’s outcome, Biden has taken the electoral college. Unless there are 20+ faithless votes for Biden from the electoral college (deemed impossible by election analysts), Biden will remain president elect.
Problems in the System
There are significant issues with how the US government and its elections are structured. Some of which are covered below.
There is no consistent standard by which votes and voting can be vetted across the US, since all states have their own rules, regulations and processes. States also use different software to count votes. A voter may be allowed a mail-in ballot in one state, but not another. One polling station may use electronic voting, while another uses paper ballots. Votes may need to be counted within a set number of days, or they can be counted for weeks following the election. Comparing errors and issues is therefore not an easy task.
Although Senators are elected by popular vote, they aren’t representative of the public proportional to the population. So a state such as California with nearly 40-million people has the same number of senate seats as Wyoming which clocks in at just over half a million citizens. The two-senate seats per state rule was enacted to prevent smaller states from being overpowered, but this conversely overrules the democratic mandate of individual choice and input over state decisions.
Investigating, trying and removing any official following impeachment by the House requires approval by the Senate; the Senate may approve or reject such suggestions or calls for investigation by the House of Representatives. No impeachment in history has seen the removal of a president. Two impeachments were investigated and tried (Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton), the last impeachment (Donald Trump) was barred from investigation as the Senate voted against hearing witnesses, viewing documents or issuing subpoenas. Donald Trump was found not guilty on the basis that there was no evidence—as evidence was barred. Prospective witnesses for the last impeachment were subsequently removed from office by the Executive Branch.
Congress is given power over choosing how elections are run and elected officials appointed. This is the prerogative of the Senate who can, hypothetically, use these powers to shape elections to their liking. (As noted in Shelby County v Holder 2013 where the supreme court judge held that although majority opinion is a constitutional value, it should be affirmed and endorsed by Congress). Unlike the presidential election, senate regulations are not restricted to the constitution and are amended over time.
Since formal agendas and processes aren’t defined for the Senate, they can filibuster policies, decisions, legislation, appointments or debates as the majority leader can decide which matters are discussed and when.
If a state or its representatives/senators don’t respond to a matter, they are indirectly consenting to its ratification or expulsion as these incumbents agree to adhering to the US Constitution on appointment—if the constitution is amended without appeal, then the incumbent’s decision defaults to approval (participation is not required).
Although a new president and party may have been elected, the new president does not officially hold the power until their inauguration. This gives the sitting president certain powers during the transition period, and such powers can be abused—though this is a rare occurrence. It has already transpired, however, that the GOP is refusing to brief the new president elect on state matters.
Vague rules about presidential protection mean that the Secret Service—tasked with protecting the president and his team—are at a bit of an impasse. Presidents don’t refuse to step down from office, generally, and so such rules around the loyalties of the secret service had not been tested before. They are now tasked with protecting two presidents equally as there is no distinct mandate on the handover of protective duties.
Response from world leaders
Following the Associated Press’s announcement that Biden has won the election, several world leaders have already congratulated the new president elect and his running mate on their election.
Some leaders have voiced their congratulations fairly swiftly and concisely, without stepping away from their diplomatic poker faces. Most of these leaders merely reaffirmed their links with the US, without giving their sentiments away. This includes the leadership of South Africa, Germany, Canada, the UK, France, Italy, Senegal, Venezuela, New Zealand, Israel, Ukraine, Egypt and more.
Underlying the tone of many of these messages, however, was an underscoring of shared values—values which had been significantly at odds between the respective nations and the US in the past few years. It is no secret that Trump has bumped heads with certain individuals, countries and factions. This is particularly true for Africa, Mexico, the Middle East, the EU, Nato and more liberal leaderships such as New Zealand and Denmark.
Other international leaders have responded either predictably or unpredictably, with either scathing remarks, apathy or unexpected congratulations:
China, which has been bumping heads with Trump for years, delayed any congratulations and when finally voicing congratulations, its foreign ministry spokesperson noted their respect for the US people and their laws and procedures, no more, no less.
Narendra Modi who leads India and has been a great Trump supporter responded with heartfelt congratulations and glee—specifically noting the ancestry of Biden’s running mate, Kamala Harris.
Nigel Farage, UK Brexit campaigner who had supported Trump in the past noted the tears of horror when Trump was elected compared to the tears of joy making one think ‘that Jesus had returned’, commentary which many believe indicates that Farage had lost faith in Trump. Though this is open to debate.
The Dalai Lama, who has been outspoken about certain political matters but also tends to maintain an air of objectivity, noted to the president elect that humanity placed great hope in his role to further the democratic vision of the US as leader of the free world.
UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed shocked Trump supporters by congratulating the Biden-Harris team. The shock, of course, due to his close ties to the Trump presidency and Trump’s sons in particular.
Trump opponents who have wholeheartedly welcomed the Biden presidency include:
- Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin: Martin has bumped heads with Trump before, and has reached out to Biden to visit Ireland, given Biden’s familial ties with the country
- London mayor Sadiq Khan noted that it was time to get back to building bridges, not walls.
- President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria stated that he hoped that Biden would use his vast experience to tackle negative consequences of nationalistic political policies globally. He also noted that Biden may restore peace in a time of uncertainty and fear worldwide.
- Parisian mayor Anne Hidalgo welcomed America back and noted the importance of the Paris Agreement (which the USA exited a week before)
Syria voiced congratulations while also noting Biden’s promise to ‘move away from hostile language’ in a mild rebuke to Trump Iranian leaders had mixed responses, with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stating that the results don’t mean a thing, while Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri stated that he hopes to see a change in Washington’s destructive policies and Trump’s belligerence.
- President Michel Aoun of Lebanon noted that the new presidency would return American-Lebanese relations back to balance.
- Noteworthy silences on the matter include Russia, Brazil and North Korea
- Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa, who has been a vocal Trump supporter from the start has been caught with egg on his face following premature congratulations to Trump’s presidential win. He has subsequently supported the voter fraud narrative, prompting his own defense ministry to warn him against further statements which do not serve Slovenian interests.
Response within the ranks
Though most GOP officials and supporters are holding rank and supporting Trump, there has been some surprising push-back against the GOP from within the party itself.
In 2018, Miles Taylor, former official for the Department of Homeland Security, joined a list of 150 former national security, military and elected officials who called for scrutiny of the president and vice president-elect at the time. The document can be viewed here. As with ‘anonymous’ documents, it’s not quite clear which information is accurate or which may be fabricated (in line with current faux news claims, but it is an interesting document to peruse, with numerous internal links to other sources).
Not-surprising is the response of long-running GOP member Mitt Romney.
Romney, of course, had faced off against former US president Barack Obama in the 2012 US National Elections. Although being sternly against much of Obama’s and the DNC’s choices, Romney had become increasingly dismayed by the lack of leadership, decay of ethical orientation and refusal to take accountability within his own party.
Romney started his career as Mormon missionary in France in 1966. He subsequently supported his parents’ political careers in the early 1970s before entering business and politics personally. The former incumbent had earned a BA in English and adjoining JD-MBA from Harvard before entering business and successfully rescuing several failing businesses from financial failure over the years. He started a private equity investment firm in the early 80s, served as bishop of his ward for the LDS church for numerous years and formally entered politics in his own capacity, running for party several times before facing off against Obama in the national election.
Despite his conservative views, Romney considered the farcical and inflammatory nature of the GOP under Trump as a disrespectful process and claimed that it undermined US democracy for all residents and citizens. He became increasingly disillusioned by the Republican party’s media antics and dishonour to the US constitution. He was the sole Republican Senate member to call for Trump’s removal following impeachment. Earlier in 2020 he noted that he would no longer vote for the Republican party and was one of the first GOP members to congratulate Biden on his election.
The McCain split
Another prominent Republican to oppose Trump is John McCain, and his widow, Cindy McCain, had split from the GOP long before the election.
Former Republican Senator for Arizona, John McCain, had bumped heads with the DNC several consistently over the years, and yet, it seems he would eventually have more ‘appeltjies te skil’ with Trump. McCain was a highly conservative US veteran, former POW, Senator and politician who had challenged Bush in the ‘99/’00 GOP and challenged the Bush administration of several falsities, as well as calling foul on leaders who have no military experience and seek to lead a military-oriented country.
No matter one’s support for or against McCain and his views; one cannot deny that the animosity between McCain and Trump created a significant rift in the GOP, and it continues to be a thorn in the Republican’s side—especially for those who purport to support a conservative, Christian, military view. McCain, although significantly nationalistic, was pro-national health reform and had, despite his opposing views.
One needn’t delve into whether the US focus on foreign military intervention is wrong or right to understand how scathing Trump’s commentary of McCain had been.
Following McCain’s death, Trump had stated that McCain was not a war hero, as he’d been a prisoner of war. This, of course, was deemed both disrespectful and hypocritical from an incumbent who seemed eager to stir warfare, while dodging drafting due to bone spurs.
Cindy McCain subsequently stated that she would never forgive Trump’s juvenile assertions given that her husband, despite his flaws, ‘represented the conscience of the US Senate and governance’, and that this conscience had been destroyed. Cindy had canvassed for Biden before the 2020 election and had voiced her support and elation at the Biden presidential win.
Support for Biden was echoed by McCain’s daughter, Meghan McCain, who had become sceptical of Republican politics and media in the early 2000s during her father’s political campaign. Meghan noted in 2008 that the war brewing within the Republican party had been a long time coming, and that its past and future weren’t reconcilable. She had not voted for Republicans or Democrats in the 2016 election…much like voters for our next entry…
The Bush pushback
One of the most telling signs of how diplomacy can work for the good of all, is certainly the relationship between the last Bush administration and the Obama administration—or perhaps not the administrations, but the families involved.
For years, the opposing parties had attended events together, and despite opposing views had become lifelong friends, frequently seen together at sporting events, concerts and other get-togethers. As with our McCain-Trump commentary above, this is not an assertion stating that such friendship is either wrong or right ideologically, but an indication of how mutual respect could work and how diplomacy can be maintained without disrespect.
One could fault George W. Bush for many things. Perhaps we would still be joking about his goofy antics, had those antics not been hijacked wholly since.
In 2016, GW Bush was one of the first Republicans to stand against Trump. It was an unprecedented move for a ‘sitting party president’ of any party. And there was no chance that Bush would win, but his stance had been clear. In fact, Bush had indicated, at the time, that he may well have voted for Biden, had Biden been up for election. Though no one knows what ballot he cast, Bush and his family had made it clear that they did not vote Republican.
Such sentiments were partially mirrored by former GOP nominee Jeb Bush, who noted; “Congratulations to President-elect Biden. I have prayed for our President most of my adult life. I will be praying for you and your success. Now is the time to heal deep wounds. Many are counting on you to lead the way.”
Confusion in the ranks
Senator Ted Cruz, who has been opposed to most Trump views has also been quite vocal in his support of the fraud allegations on platforms like Parler, and his statements have been quite vague.
Cruz has stated that the election was “partisan, political and lawless”, which underscores years of conflicting views. His word choice of partisan and political and lawless are conveniently neutral: partisan and political are neither positive nor negative phrases, merely descriptive. Not stating whether the opposition to the results or the results themselves were lawless opens the door for subjective interpretation by any party; it has been Cruz’s failsafe throughout the years.
Senator Marco Rubio has been equally vague, insisting that one should maintain faith in election results as the outcome requires transparency—a statement echoed by the DNC and lawmakers of all sides, yet seemingly in support of the GOP.
Senator Susan Collins reiterated that the results of the elections should be respected, irrespective of the outcome, but interjected vague inferences that the results weren’t accurate.
Even the Minority Whip (DNC) for the House confused voters by calling for all US voters to give evidence of any possible election fraud in order the democratic process be sustained…thus far no DNC or GOP has engaged with the call for transparency outside social media. Then again, this wasn’t necessarily confusing—all respectable politicians have called for transparency. His voice was merely a strange sound in an echo chamber who’d believed that truth would only be upheld by their own party.
John Bolton, who has been a Republican consultant and political commentator for decades, noted this week that it was crucial for Republican leaders to admit the Republican loss. In contrast to the 2016 election, Bolton stated, the current upheaval was not pitting party politics or ideologies against each other, but undermining the credibility of the political rule and leadership itself. By not admitting defeat, the GOP was calling for the very anarchy it claimed to oppose.
Similar sentiments were voiced by Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski who opposed Trump’s appointing of a Supreme Court nominee before the election, and stated that she did not support Trump’s decisions. Given that Alaska has a predominantly Republican voter base and she had won the Republican vote, Murkowski’s opposition to Trump is causing significant confusion in the ranks.
The strange dichotomy in GOP party ranks which pits conservative against conservative is evident in the widespread desertion of Trump support from the military, such as William H. McRaven (former navy admiral who’d directed the raid against Osama bin Laden) who’d stated that they don’t support Trump or his administration.
Jared Kushner, senior Trump advisor and son-in-law, has purportedly instructed officials to prepare for a concession. This follows a rather ominous silence from himself and Ivanka Trump following the election. Many analysts believe this is due to Trump’s statements about New York, and that his presidency would not provide aid nor vaccines around Covid-19 to New York. Given that Kushner and Ivanka Trump are returning to their home in New York, the sitting president’s statements place them in the cross-fire both in a personal capacity and as former GOP leaders in the region.
Check in for Part 2 of our blog…
In our next article we’ll discuss how the new presidency may affect South Africa and the fate or opportunities for South Africa the world over.
Before we sign off, see some interesting facts about the US below.
- GOP is short for Grand Old Party, a nickname given to the Republican Party in the 1870s.
- The original Republican Party was made up mostly of northern liberal abolitionists opposed to slavery in the south. You may therefore hear that Republicans ended slavery, but this is a bit of a misnomer as none of the parties of the time resemble the state of the modern GOP or DNC.
- The Ideologies of the former Republican and Democratic parties switched between the 1860s and 1930s. The switch was brought about by an influential democrat William Jennings Bryan who emphasised the need for federal power. With Franklin Roosevelt’s reelection as US president (as democrat), the Democratic ideologies favoured the former Republican ideologies and vice versa.
- These policy reforms and social interventions introduced by FDR during the great depression was labeled ‘the New Deal’.
- Party conventions have traditionally been timed to exclude periods during the Summer Olympics to prevent competing with sporting viewers.
- There has only been one case in US history where a first-ballot leader won an election.
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