Opinion: If President Trump is re-elected, our democracy will be taken away

by Jayne Yutig, Staff Writer

When historians look back at the summer of 2020, they will see a nation torn apart by the civil unrest in response to systemic racial injustice. They will read about potentially the worst economic collapse in U.S. history caused by a global pandemic that took the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans. 

What is most egregious and equally as consequential will be how an incumbent president campaigned through multiple crises, using the power of the Oval Office to shred through the blanket of democracy as we know it. 

President Donald Trump’s actions and tweets over the summer have caused long-lasting damage to the democratic norms in our country. 

If he doesn’t win the election in November and refuses to accept his defeat, he’s taking our democracy down with him. 

President Trump deployed military forces against peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square on June 1st. Tear gas and rubber bullets were deployed as police descended on protesters

Cameras captured the pandemonium on the plaza while protesters were pushed back, clearing the way for Trump and members of the administration to walk through the square to St. John’s Episcopal Church for a photo-op. 

Americans sat at home and watched as the President had his picture taken holding a Bible in front of the venerated church, where just moments before a scene of chaos and violence played out. 

August arrived and Trump began his war on delegitimizing the election, sewing doubt in any result that ends with him not being re-elected. 

Democratic Presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden said at a fundraiser in April, ”I think he is going to try to kick back the election somehow, come up with some rationale why it can’t be held.”

The prediction was confirmed in July when Trump tweetedWith Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”

Republican leadership immediately condemned his tweet and was quick to point out that the power to delay an election lies solely with Congress. 

Rep. Liz Cheney, the third-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives rejected Trump’s idea outright in a tweet, “We are not moving the date of the election. The resistance to this idea among Republicans is overwhelming.”

What began with a tweet from our president initiated a blazing attack on the legitimacy of the 2020 election.

Trump spoke at a rally in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and said, “The only way we’re going to lose this election is if the election is rigged.” 

Trump is previewing the possibility of not accepting the results following his hypothetical defeat, potentially not leaving office on January 20th. This would be a situation the nation has never seen.

Trump said at a White House meeting, “Maybe you’ll never know the election result, and that’s what I’m concerned with. It’ll be fixed. It’ll be rigged.”

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany spoke about Trump not accepting the results and said, “He’ll see what happens and make a determination in the aftermath.”

The peaceful transfer of power between presidents remains one of the world’s most heralded democratic principles. 

Despite how hard the candidates go to battle, one candidate will concede and the power of the American people is given to the President-Elect on Inauguration Day.

House Majority Whip Rep. Jim Clyburn told CNN, “I don’t think he plans to leave the White House.” 

Just like the date of the election, the constitution explicitly states the president and vice president’s terms end at noon on January 20th. 

A rare situation like this hasn’t occurred in the United States, but has in other democratic nations and sometimes resulted in violence in countries like in Sri Lanka and Moldova.

As the nation continues to barely keep its head above water amid multiple crises, it is difficult to look at June, July and August and not see a grim future for our country. American democracy is a beacon of hope to people around the world who live under autocratic governments and it is vitally important that we guard and protect it. 

History has shown us that America is resilient and strong. However, whatever the result is on the morning of November 4th, this summer has taught us the fragility of American democracy.  

Jayne Yutig is a junior studying journalism. Follow her on Twitter @jayneyutig.