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America’s Fifth Column

Summary:
Authoritarian states such as Russia and China have argued for years that core liberal-democratic principles are hypocritical and hollow. By undermining them in America, President Donald Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Fox News are giving them a big helping hand. LONDON – The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in the 1970s was a product of the Cold War standoff between the liberal democratic West and the communist Soviet bloc. The body’s name accurately described its role. As the Soviet empire crumbled, the OSCE turned to nurturing countries’ transition to democracy, including by helping them run free and fair elections. America’s Political Crisis and the Way Forward

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Authoritarian states such as Russia and China have argued for years that core liberal-democratic principles are hypocritical and hollow. By undermining them in America, President Donald Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Fox News are giving them a big helping hand.

LONDON – The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in the 1970s was a product of the Cold War standoff between the liberal democratic West and the communist Soviet bloc. The body’s name accurately described its role. As the Soviet empire crumbled, the OSCE turned to nurturing countries’ transition to democracy, including by helping them run free and fair elections.

The world paid close attention to OSCE observation missions’ verdict on elections held in countries like Ukraine, Romania, and Kazakhstan. But few back then took much notice of the conduct of presidential elections in the United States, the land of the free.

True, some might have been a bit troubled by the main US parties’ widespread electoral gerrymandering, more recent Republican efforts to suppress the vote in communities of color, and the relentlessly partisan political reporting of some local and national media. Overall, however, the handling of US elections gave little cause for concern. Voters chose presidents fairly, albeit through a curious Electoral College system that reflected America’s history but sometimes denied victory to the winner of the popular vote.

This year’s presidential election took place amid high political tension and a raging COVID-19 pandemic. But the OSCE’s verdict was clear: The vote was “competitive and well managed.”

Other independent foreign observers – as well as Republican state officials who organized and administered some of the voting and counting – said the same. But there was a large orange fly in the ointment in the form of President Donald Trump. The OSCE denounced “baseless allegations of systematic deficiencies, notably by the incumbent president,” which “harm public trust in democratic institutions.”

I guess no one should be surprised at Trump’s refusal to concede to President-elect Joe Biden, which delayed by weeks the start of the transition to the new...

Chris Patten
Associate Director of Design Thinking, Henry Ford Learning Institute. I use design to make complex issues more tangible and build empathy among stakeholders.

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