Whoever wins this election is reflection of us as Americans

Whoever wins this election is reflection of us as Americans
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To Americans, even those who pay little attention to the discourse of the political punditry, it is clear that 2020 is no “normal” election. As with any modern election cycle, a Republican and a Democrat are at the top of the ballot. But this time, voters are not simply asked to pick between right or left, small government or big government, family values conservatism or social liberal progressivism. As Barack Obama said at the convention, for perhaps the first time in our history, democracy is on the ballot.

In the not distant past, Americans could at least agree on the sanctity of our political process, our respect for the consensus reached in elections, and our firm belief that liberty was best protected by a strong system of checks and balances. Our divide was always political, split on the means but not the ends. But for the first time in recent history, the election is a referendum on values that we once believed went without saying.

Democracy is not a given. No amount of checks and balances will protect it if the people do not want it. The election may perhaps be a referendum on Donald TrumpDonald TrumpOmar, Muslim Democrats decry Islamophobia amid death threats On The Money — Powell pivots as inflation rises Trump cheers CNN's Cuomo suspension MORE, but it is also a referendum on Americans. This election is as much about us as it is about him. At the top of the Republican ticket is a candidate who stokes distrust with the electoral process, a president who undermines the independence with our justice system, a leader who abdicated responsibility of the pandemic and mounting death toll, and a man who appeals to racists and the darkest impulses of citizens.


But at the top of the Democratic ticket is a candidate who appeals to our better angels. Joe BidenJoe BidenCDC working to tighten testing requirement for international travelers On The Money — Powell pivots as inflation rises Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Manchin seeks 'adjustments' to spending plan MORE is a leader who looks for shared values and ideas in the plethora of cultural inflection points. He is a man who understands his flaws that come with being human. Moreover, he wants what is really best for this country. What can it say about Americans if we endorse the authoritarian tendencies of Trump by handing him another term?

The recent show elections in Belarus illustrate the notion that democracy is about much more than voting. A democracy demands the independent justice system, vigilant oversight across the branches of government, and respect for constitutional procedures and norms, both by the people and the individuals those people elect to lead them. It is no secret that Trump actively disdains all of these things given his record as president.

One need only look to his pardon for Roger Stone, his refusal to comply with subpoenas from Congress, and his tirades against mailed ballots to understand the total contempt that Trump has for everything that makes democracy work. One need only look at his defense of Kyle Rittenhouse and his attacks on peaceful protesters to understand his heavy embrace of authoritarian traits and dislike of opposing views. Is this who we have become in this new era? Or is this who we always were before?

Are we simply fine with corrupting our way of life and our precious civil liberties, once the envy of the world, if that means that we can close the borders to people who are different from us? This is our powerful test of democracy, and the world will soon know whether we have been paying attention. Some might deny what is right in front of their faces, because of political gain or confirmation bias, but the facts are still facts.

The president was woefully unprepared to hold the most powerful office on the planet. He is most likely incapable or unwilling to be the leader of the free world. But he is capable and willing to dismantle our democracy right in front of our eyes. Think about the nearly 200,000 Americans who have died in the pandemic. Each has family unable to be with them in the last moments. Each has a name that will be etched in history because of those intentional lies about the coronavirus. With every one of these lies, Trump chips away at the trust Americans have in government.

His defenders have spent nearly four years cleaning up his disasters. They try and tell us that what Trump actually means is anything other than what he actually claims. But we know better. We have heard the tapes. We have watched the videos. We have read the books. We realize who he is.

This is why we must ask ourselves this critical question. Who are we? Are we a country that embraces change and the zest of our cultural diversity? Or are we a country frozen by the original sin of the founders? We have a decision that will define us for generations to come. The election is more than a referendum on the president. It is also about the cherished values of Americans. The election is as much about us as it is about him.

Michael Starr Hopkins is the founder of Northern Starr Strategies and the host of “The Starr Report” podcast. Follow his updates @TheOnlyHonest.