A vicious Trump-Biden transition is likely to cause more loss of US influence around the world than Trump’s several flawed foreign policies.
A Trump refusal to relinquish power easily if he loses the November 3 elections would deal a devastating blow to all friends of America, including aspirants to democracy. Trust may not recover for decades.
It would be like a personal endorsement by an American strongman of authoritarian rulers who disregard their people to any extent to stay in power.
It will make it harder for friendly nations to support and promote US foreign policies in their neighborhoods because it highlights the unsavory vindictive underbelly of American politics.
A Trump-Biden transition will almost certainly be a terrain strewn with improvised explosive devices, especially if Trump has to leave because of a narrow margin of defeat amid allegations of electoral fraud.
It would be in character for Trump to make things as hard as possible for Joe Biden if he loses. This is highly likely since he tried to undermine the outgoing Obama government’s sanctions against Russia when he was still president-elect.
He may try to poison the transition to hobble Biden, for instance by worsening relations with China, weakening NATO and leaving Afghanistan precipitously thus making it more difficult to prevent a Taliban victory.
He may further harden his regime change efforts in Iran, leaving Biden to deal with European, Russian and Chinese anger at Trump’s sabotage, particularly the snapback of draconian sanctions against Teheran.
US allies and others are inflamed because Trump has left the jointly signed Iranian nuclear agreement, yet the snapback punishes them for breaking sanctions that only the US will apply in defiance of United Nations decisions.
Trump’s hobbling of transition would lay bare the hypocrisy of America’s long-standing foreign policy push to promote democracy around the world, despite the local people’s unfamiliarity with its imperatives and no historical experience of it.
American democracy is the jewel of the American people. It brings them respect and a readiness of other countries to listen to their representatives.
American has held the world’s admiration since the first transition of power 220 years ago despite its very imperfect democracy at the time, including the racist underpinnings
Peaceful transitions of power have happened consistently since then, in contrast to most other countries where leaders were deposed or killed in often bloody events.
To preserve this core, former President Barack Obama signed a bipartisan law in 2016 mandating closer cooperation by the outgoing administration during a transition.
Since then, the realization has dawned upon everyone that the US is not really a democracy like others because its people do not elect their president directly. Electoral colleges can overrule their choice, as they did when Trump stepped into the White House.
America’s founders saw the electoral college system as a reasonable necessity but Trump has revealed its inadequacy and flaws.
Well before he won power and for every hour since he stepped in, Trump has been derided by those who, with a three million majority, voted against him. But the electoral college system pushed them back.
Instead of sullenly curling up or making compromises to win over detractors and waverers, Trump has brought the Republic Party to heel and taken it in directions away from its traditional conservatism. And party stalwarts have acquiesced in the hope of personal political gain.
Trump has tightened his grip as Senate Republicans line up behind him for the fight to replace the late Ruth Bader Ginsberg, an outspoken liberal, by an arch conservative on the Supreme Court bench.
A lot of Americans loathe him but there is considerable admiration for Trump among many around the world because of his sheer will power and disregard for conventions. This may be because three-quarters of the world’s people are ruled by authoritarians elected in fraudulent polls.
A president who shuns facts and often lies does not phase most of the world’s people. They live under the thumb of such leaders every day.
But they do hope to one day to be governed by leaders democratically elected without rigged polls and answerable to them, similarly to the situation in America.
Trump is trampling on those aspirations by suggesting that he may refuse to give up power if he thinks that polling in America was unreliable because of mail-in ballots or other causes.
This threat may just be his scary way of telling his base to come out to vote and be ready to stand by him if he loses by a narrow margin.
But the damage done to the US model of democracy for aspirants in other countries is already severe, stemming from the mere suggestion by a US President that he will battle not to relinquish power.
Trump has made the Chinese model of authoritarian one-party rule seems palatable to many in those countries.