Chinese Communist Party propagandists are mocking the American election and deriding it as inferior to the Chinese system. According to a Washington Post article, Wang Pengquan, a CCP state socialism researcher, wrote, “America-worshippers exaggerate its political system’s ability to self-correct and tout its so-called freedom… Facts speak louder than words. The vast majority of Chinese can see through the reality of U.S. political division, economic stagnation and social turmoil.”
I will grant him this: facts, or rather, actions do indeed speak louder than words. A staggering 160 million-plus Americans—regardless of sex, race, or creed—cast votes in this year’s presidential election during a pandemic, when political polarization was sky-high. The government did not suppress votes, and the “system” did not suppress votes (despite what you may have heard from some dramatic politicians). Nor were journalists arrested for writing about the election, even with so much of the media commentariat behaving indistinguishably from Democratic activists.
And when all the legal ballots are counted, we will have a legitimately elected president of the United States.
It is true, there have been some protests. But the election has not triggered violent protests—at least not yet—and the boarded-up storefronts, while a shame, protect against rioters on the political-left fringe, and are not so much a symptom of a widespread phenomenon among average Americans.
There have been claims of voter fraud. But we do not know if it is enough to affect the outcome of an election that is so close. The US electoral system has levers to pull for recourse to better ensure integrity and accountability if people are willing to pull them, and this election cycle they are. The Trump campaign will insist on greater transparency and accountability to ensure every lawful vote is counted and only lawful ballots are counted. This is a more muscular exercise of various avenues in our system of government for litigating an election outcome, although it wasn’t all that long ago when the Supreme Court had to settle an election dispute in Florida’s 2000 presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore.
In sum, this democratic republic is working as designed, and it is a marvel. Our system is rooted in the recognition that individual human beings are of infinite value while also capable of doing evil. It is at once careful to account for the will and desire of individuals while also guarding against the tyranny of the majority brought about by pure democracy. The Electoral College, maligned as it is by some who are frustrated by its design, is always putting pressure on presidents and candidates to build coalitions and to earn the consent of the people they serve.
That is not to say the nation is not in the middle of a serious, yet thus far, peaceful fight over the direction of the nation. Donald Trump and Joe Biden offered two very different visions for the nation. Trump is the head of a new coalition of working-class, pro-nuclear family, and religious traditionalists who are multi-racial and unabashedly patriotic. Biden is the head of the camp represented by highly credentialed elites, the wealthy, and the fanatically secular with a penchant for national self-loathing. The most radical elements of this camp have embraced the narrative of the “1619 Project.”
But even as votes continue to be counted, and even if Trump does not prevail in the final outcome, Americans sent a resounding message rejecting the radical 1619 agenda in the down-ballot elections, choosing the Republicans associated with Trump, over the Democrats. Regardless of who wins the presidential race, this is encouraging. If the Republican-controlled Senate holds, combined with a House of Representatives where Democrats have only the slightest majority since Republicans continue to pick up seats, it will mean the radical elements of that agenda are dead on arrival. What will be popular, and will receive bipartisan support, are initiatives that help Americans still struggling to regain their footing because of the pandemic, and efforts that strengthen a middle class that the failed economic and foreign policies of the last several decades have hit hardest. This is likely to include efforts the Trump administration already began, such as re-shoring some critical supply chains that currently run through China.
Which brings us back to the silly chiding of the Chinese Communist propagandists. They will not be able to turn back the clock. Economic engagement with the Chinese Communist regime did not bring about China’s political liberalization, and the Trump administration ushered in a new phase in US-China relations that is competitive and at times confrontational, an overdue correction to the dewy-eyed globalism of the last several decades.
The Trump administration’s Conservative Nationalist approach to world affairs is meaningfully linked to this revival of American patriotism, a defense of the border-bound nation, and populism at home.
The US confrontation toward China was turbo-charged by the crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic, which gave the world a taste of what Chinese global leadership would be like in a time of need. The CCP’s inhumanity is a trademark of the regime and is reflected in its treatment of other nations. Unlike our system—rooted in the Christian recognition of each man and woman’s dignity, infinite worth, and simultaneous propensity to harm others—the CCP is rooted in atheism, and all of its domestic and international efforts are meant to serve the paramount leader, the General Secretary Xi Jinping, and the Chinese Community Party.
In those early stages of the pandemic, the CCP regime was mendacious, cruel, and mercantilist. It treated its own citizens horrifically, barring them in their homes, jailing doctors, and possibly worse, although independent verification of the worst stories is difficult in a country that utterly lacks transparency. The CCP continues to withhold information about the origins of the virus, and it suppresses the freedom of doctors, activists, and researchers who are trying to get to the bottom of the coronavirus’ causes and ways to mitigate it.
It is true that Biden has a record of enthusiastic engagement with China. But the Republicans in the Senate and even some Democrats do not. Likewise, there are bipartisan leaders in the House of Representatives who are in a hurry to build on the progress of competing with China, rather than unwind it. As a nation, we will likely press on toward strengthening our alliances with Asian allies and partners, and we will continue efforts to build greater economic resiliency to make us less vulnerable to Chinese economic coercion. Republicans and realistic Democrats will work to hold the line on necessary investments in our military and especially in our strategic deterrent to prevent what would be a nightmare war with China, and to win as quickly as possible, should deterrence break down.
So yes, the election is incredibly close, and the ballot counting continues even as I write this. Americans will go to extraordinary lengths to ensure each eligible American’s vote is registered. Unlike in authoritarian nations, the outcome of elections in the United States is truly unknown until each state, with bipartisan counters and poll-watchers working shoulder to shoulder to sift out fraud, comes to a conclusive outcome. As scholar Cliff May, president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies quipped back on Twitter in response to the Iranian supreme leader, who mocked our current state of affairs: “Dictatorships are less messy—but more bloody.”
We will take the tedious “mess” to peacefully determine our elected officials even, and in this case especially, when the stakes are so high. In doing so, we still have a superior system, responsive to the will of the people, and in a much better place than it was four years ago to compete with the closed, inhumane, and increasingly globally unpopular Chinese Communist Party.