NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University political analysts say it is too early to determine the impact of the recent presidential election on the nation’s Democracy. But they say the record turnout of voters indicates that many Americans believe their “voices matter.”
President Trump’s allegations of voter fraud and his unwillingness to concede to President-elect Joe Biden has raised questions about whether his actions have eroded trust in the U.S. Democracy. There’s also concern countries watching what’s happening in the United States may start to question the concept of a democratic government.
Political scientists say Trump’s unwillingness to concede, and his claims of voter fraud, are the beginnings of democratic erosion, where a system of government remains a democracy, but the norms and values that make democracy work start to be called into question.
“His supporters have been primed this whole election season that if the election doesn’t turn out with Trump winning, then there’s been something nefarious going on,” says TSU political science professor Brian Russell, who is highly sought after because of his expertise on the Constitution and political issues.
The latest voting figures show Biden with 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232. Biden defeated him by more than six million votes in an election that had more than 150 million people vote, the most in U.S. history.
On Monday, the administrator of the General Services Administration formally designated Biden the winner of the presidential election, providing federal funds and resources to begin a transition and authorizing his advisers to begin coordinating with Trump administration officials. However, Trump still has not conceded.
“When he is questioning the process and implying that there’s been cheating going on all along, that starts to undermine our institutions. How deep does that go? I don’t know yet.”
However, Russell says one undeniable fact is the tens of millions of people that turned out to vote, which he says “is something positive” because it shows a lot of people still have faith in democracy.
Granted, he acknowledges the turnout was spurred by issues like the handling of the coronavirus pandemic, racial injustice and the economy, but they came out nonetheless.
“That says something about our system,” says Russell. “If we had this kind of crisis and people weren’t coming out to vote, that would be suggesting that they thought the system was ultimately corrupt and their voices didn’t matter.”
History professor and political analyst Learotha Williams says the high voter turnout in the 2020 presidential election also highlighted efforts at the grassroots level to get people to vote, which he called inspiring. One person he noted was attorney Stacey Abrams, who is credited with boosting Democrats in Georgia and turning the state blue.
Abrams, a former state lawmaker who has worked on issues related to voting rights for a decade, became a household name in 2018, when she narrowly lost her bid for governor in a contest marked by allegations of voter suppression affecting mostly black voters.
“That was a tough loss,” says Williams, an expert on voting rights, as well as African American and public history. “But it motivated her to keep going, to keep pushing, which speaks to her resiliency. She came back strong, and turned Georgia.”
To learn more about History, Political Science, Geography and Africana Studies at TSU, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/history/
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