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With Due Respect

Triumph of American democracy

Despite the baseless legal suits, shameless political shenanigans, chaotic mobs, and incited rioters of Donald Trump and his allies, the United States (US) Congress certified Joe Biden as the new US President.

Affirming the 306-232 count of the US Electoral College, the congressional action came as a fitting conclusion to the dismissal by federal and state courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States (Scotus), of Trump’s over 50 suits challenging Biden’s victory. My limited space bars me from detailing these baseless cases (See this space on 12/27/2020 for an example).

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However, the political shenanigans are even more aplenty. They began when Trump denounced, without proof, the decades-long American absentee voting system. Yet, ironically, he later availed himself of an absentee ballot in Florida.

His shenanigans turned disturbing when Mike Flynn, his disgraced former national security adviser, made an unprecedented public call for martial law and a restaging of the 2020 presidential election.

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A few days ago, Trump blatantly called Brad Raffensperger (his fellow Republican who, as secretary of state, supervised the election in Georgia) to “find 11,780 votes” to overturn by one ballot Joe Biden’s lead of 11,779 votes, with threats of criminal charges if he refused his demand. Even more blatantly, he asked Vice President Mike Pence, as the presiding officer of the US Senate, to undermine the congressional certification of Biden’s victory.

Unlike us, the US does not have an independent and nonpartisan Commission on Elections that uniformly supervises the polls in the entire country. Neither does it have privately-run, nonpartisan, nationwide election watchdogs like the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting and the National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections.

Instead, each of the 50 states regulates the elections in their respective territories, resulting in the absence of standard operating procedures in the casting, counting, and canvassing of ballots. Worse, most often, the chief election officer (usually the secretary of state) is an elected partisan official (or, in some states, appointed by a partisan state governor).

Moreover, the US does not have a counterpart to our Presidential Electoral Tribunal (or of the Senate and House Electoral Tribunals) where election controversies are heard even after the elections are over. Instead, the polls are deemed finished once the results are certified by the state election officers and the Electoral College.

Despite its obvious lack of constitutional safeguards and private sentinels, US elections have been comparatively peaceful, orderly, and credible, Trump’s recent fiendishness notwithstanding.

Though obviously partisan, the chief election officers nonetheless follow their election laws and perform their jobs faithfully. They do not invent facts to suit their political biases; rather they firmly act on the basis of indisputable facts and laws.

A clear example is Raffensperger who firmly stood his ground: “President Trump… We don’t agree that you have won.” Indeed, Georgia’s ballots had been counted three times, the last one, manually, at Trump’s request, and the result was the same: Biden won in that traditionally Republican bailiwick.

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As if to support him, Georgia elected two Democrats against two incumbent Republicans during a Senate runoff on Jan. 5, thereby giving incoming VP Kamala Harris a tie-breaking vote in the evenly split US Senate, 50-50.

Exemplary, too, was VP Pence’s rebuff of Trump: “The Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not.”

To counter Trump’s plainly illegal attempt to use the US military to back up his mischiefs, 10 living former US secretaries of defense (two of whom served during Trump’s presidency) issued days ago a strongly worded letter saying “the election is over… no role for the military in resolving any controversy surrounding it.”

Also contributing to the credibility of the US election was the affirmative vote of the three Trump appointees in the Scotus dismissing on short shrift the defeated president’s bid to derail Biden’s victory.

Summary: First, without constitutional safeguards and private sentinels, the US held a credible election sans lengthy post-election protests. Second, Trump did his worst; still, American democracy prevailed. Can we do the same?

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TAGS: 2020 US elections, American democracy, Artemio V. Panganiban, Donald Trump, Joe Bide, With Due Respect
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