In praise of not burning down a democracy

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I don’t get to say this often, so I’d be remiss at the end of election week to pass up the opportunity: Good job America! You didn’t screw this up.

Ahead of Election Day on Tuesday, many activists, strategists and pro-democracy observers were out in the open squeaking their teeth about what was about to happen. Almost three-quarters of voters said interviewers that democracy itself is at risk, even if fewer than 1 in 10 consider the threat urgent. rules tightening access to ballots is seen by some as designed to disenfranchise a wide swath of the electorate. Threats to violence against polling station officials and election officials were so common that rafts of them leave. The candidates embraced those of former President Donald Trump Big lie around 2020 and ready their own options for 2022. It was no longer a I got you’ a question to ask candidates if they would I accept their loss; many had prepared to declare victory no matter what.

Well, Tuesday came. For the most part, things looked good. When hiccups arrived– as they do in every election – hypervigilance kicks in and corrects problems that might have been removed in another year. Lines were manageable, waiting in accordance with past cycles. Hyperbolic fears of assassinations turned out to be exaggerated. Election deniers are running for positions that could lead to the next election lost (although a couple remain too close to call). Even the most bombastic character working on the fumes of the Big Lie admitted, something unthinkable even on Tuesday morning.

It turns out that this democratic experiment may actually prove to be more durable than expected.

Before the polls even closed, some 45 million Americans had voted early, a midterm record surpassing 39 million who voted early in 2018. Ann appreciated A total of 112 million Americans voted this year, and that number may still be rising as the count continues.

In other words, Americans saw the election it mattered and gave their votes to the process. This participation creates legitimacy even if your side loses. And while the United States still has some of the lowest voter turnout rates in the Democratic world — only a third of eligible voters in Mississippi, Tennessee and West Virginia voted this year, for example — are improving. States like Arizona, Pennsylvania and Michigan overtaken their activity since 2018 this year thanks to competitive races that cannot be avoided.

Read more: Election officials feel “huge relief” after smooth voting

This does not mean that the defenders of American democracy can rest on their laurels. Far from it. The Maryland Republican, who requested the attorney general’s involvement in Annapolis, did refused to admit despite the crushing loss. In Arizona, candidates opt out of gubernatorial and secretary of state elections can pull off a win. MAGA Twitter remains a place for conspiracy theories I’m thriving. A series of strange statements continue to come from Trump’s outlets and his expected declaration of third next week’s presidential election will only feed these feverish circles.

Still, the fact that we’re discussing the broad success of the US election and treating the irresponsible fringes as exceptional exceptions speaks volumes for how this week unfolded. Instead of again surrounding buildings with protest boards, we’re just refreshing a few race returns to see the majority margins. Instead of building shadowy branches of government, losing candidates are posting campaign office equipment on Craigslist and talking about lessons learned ahead of potential rematches. All of this, in a strange way, should be celebrated.

Indeed, democracy in the US has had a rough few years. The contested 2000 The election was a low point in modern history—not necessarily because of the result, but because of the process that took a narrow portion of the results all the way to the Supreme Court to determine whether the count could even proceed. The swing elections of 2006, 2010, and 2018 changed Congress in fundamental ways that forced even the winning parties to rethink governance. The 2016 contest and its Russian language overtones still haunts Washington—and maybe Mar-a-Lago. The pandemic-tinged 2020 presidential race and the dumpster fire codas didn’t exactly sell American exceptionalism to the world.

But this year, the relative calm and collective acceptance of the electorate’s results sets the stage for what could be a shockingly drama-free end to the year. Much work remains to be made in Washington in the coming session of the lame. But at least the players who will return in the coming weeks – either to prepare for their next term or to pack up their offices to go home – understand the results and accept them. It speaks well of what a divided Washington could accomplish in the final two years of Joe Biden’s tenure. And for that, Americans should feel proud that they didn’t try to burn down the system just because they could.

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Write to Philip Eliot c [email protected].

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