29 November, 2020

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Why The World Is Counting On A Biden Victory

By Krishantha Prasad Cooray

Krishantha Cooray

The upcoming presidential election in the United States of America has brought the world to the edge of our seats. It has exposed the dark underbelly of the American political system and left us all wondering whether America, the world’s oldest modern democracy, will indeed prove to be a democracy at all?

Four years ago, America fell under the spell of a strongman. Donald Trump took the stage with masterful control of the media. He hijacked a democratic system and bypassed the customary scrutiny of presidential candidates by hiding his tax returns, silencing people through non-disclosure agreements and defining the narrative of his political opponent.

By the measure of an election in any normal democracy, he failed. He garnered 2,868,686 fewer votes than Hillary Clinton, losing the vote by a margin of 2.23%. To put that margin in a context that Sri Lankans would understand, Ranil Wickremesinghe lost the Sri Lankan presidential election in 2005 by a slimmer margin of only 1.86%. However, under the American system, it is the combination of states you win that counts, not the number of votes, and Donald Trump became president on that technicality.

For decades, the battle for the right to vote has been a feature of American politics. Politicians and partisan judges frequently succeed in preventing ethnic minorities, youth and other liberal demographics from voting, even divining ways to exclude the ballots of those who did vote. On more than one occasion, the politicized American Supreme Court has backed these efforts, further divorcing the American political system from what we in Sri Lanka understand as democracy.

Sri Lankans can take pride in our system. For all the political turmoil that our country has suffered in 72 years as an independent democracy, none barring the LTTE has even tried to deny the franchise to a Sri Lankan constituency or sought to prevent Sri Lankans from voting. It would be unthinkable for Sri Lankan courts to even entertain a case that sought to discriminate against Sri Lankan electors.

What remains unthinkable in little Sri Lanka is the only path before America’s Donald Trump to secure his re-election. A president who came to power on a technicality seeks to cling to power by unleashing a torrent of technicalities. His acolytes have sabotaged the postal service to scuttle the postal vote and filed over 300 court cases across America to prevent valid votes from being counted. They have shuttered polling places in urban areas to dissuade the poor from voting. They have adopted a flurry of similar strategies not to increase their own vote count, but to reduce the number of votes counted for their opponent, all of which would be unthinkable in Sri Lanka or any civilized democracy.

To those of us who treasure democracy and the institutions that defend it, there is solace to be found in the fact that Donald Trump is the first incumbent American President running for re-election who has not been endorsed by a single former President. Avowed institutionalists in his Republican party, from former Speaker Paul Ryan to the late Senator John McCain, have disavowed Trump. McCain went so far as to request that Trump not be allowed to attend his funeral.

Hundreds of retired senior military, intelligence and law enforcement officials in America have spoken out not just to oppose Donald Trump but to warn that his re-election would pose a grave threat to the national security and integrity of the United States of America.

Over the last four years, America has learnt first-hand the lessons of other countries that succumbed to cults of personality. When strongmen bluster their way into high office on a façade of glitzy propaganda and magical promises, the reality is that they loot their nation’s coffers, flounder and spend their time making excuses and blaming others as to why they could not deliver. They insist that they can only succeed if they are given more power and kept in office. Meanwhile, they chip away at democratic and institutional safeguards, because once the people have seen through them, democracy becomes a threat to their stranglehold on power.

Trump has failed to deliver on his promises, and his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic has been an international embarrassment, so there is reason to hope that his defeat will make way for healing America and making its institutions stronger than they were before Trump began his assault. There is much healing to be done.

Ever since World War II, America has marketed itself as the poster child for democracy, even though the fairness of its electoral system has lagged behind those of other democracies like Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, Switzerland and the Scandinavian states.

Despite America’s wide inequalities, the romance is in that country’s evolution. Long before being elected President, Abraham Lincoln explained that America’s Declaration of Independence, which stated that all men are equal, was not a statement of present fact but an aspiration to strive for.

The concept of equality, Lincoln said, is one that must be “constantly looked to, constantly laboured for, and even, though never perfectly attained, constantly approximated, and thereby constantly spreading and deepening its influence and augmenting the happiness and value of life to all people, of all colours, everywhere.”

Indeed, the American tradition has been to own up to its country’s dark history and aspire to do better. At it came to terms with the barbaric legacies such as slavery or the treatment of native Americans, the country has continuously evolved into a less racist and xenophobic, and more inclusive and equal nation, all under the glaring eye of one of the most searing and merciless news media environments in the world.

America’s claim to moral authority has come from reconciling its roots in inequality, slavery and other heinous crimes, owning up to them, accepting its present shortcomings, and actively striving towards the values upon which she was founded, while espousing those same values abroad. Democracies that have adopted or shared those values have often overtaken America in their implementation, and nevertheless found in the USA a strong and staunch ally who will stand up to autocratic bullying.

This is why Trump’s rejection, deriding and snubbing of democratically elected leaders, and his embracing and enabling of dictators and autocrats, and his encouragement of human rights abuses in his own country and overseas have struck such a serious blow to fragile democracies everywhere. Autocracies like Russia and China count on people losing faith in the idea of democracy and a free press. They can have no greater champion than an American president who insists American elections are rigged or boasts that he helped a foreign prince get away with murdering and dissecting a journalist.

So when Mike Pompeo came to Sri Lanka, winked that democracies should stick together, and warned that the Chinese Communist Party is “preying” on Sri Lanka, his words would ring less hollow had his own party not been so feverishly dismantling and delegitimizing democracy in his own country. Indeed, he would sound more sincere if President Trump had not just months ago been impeached for “preying” on the democratically elected leaders of Ukraine.

Sri Lanka cannot be credibly lectured on human rights and democracy by a country whose government has for the last four years institutionalized the oppression of minorities, forcibly separated refugees from their children, and laboured to engineer the arrest of journalists and jailing of political opponents. When Trump speaks of autocrats like Vladimir Putin or Kim Jong Un, he betrays a frustrated envy of these strongmen and how simply they silence, poison, irradiate or otherwise dispatch their political opponents.

These weaknesses in Trump and his lack of character are a key reason he is on track to garner far fewer votes than his opponent, Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. Unlike Trump, whose manicured public image propelled him to fame on a campaign of fear, hate and race-baiting, Joe Biden is someone who has long been trusted in Americans and the world as a beacon of democracy, a father of war veterans.

In his choice of the highly qualified senator and former prosecutor Kamala Harris as his vice-presidential nominee, Biden shunned the allure of surrounding himself with “yes men” and followed in the footsteps of Barack Obama and signalled that he is not insecure about promoting and empowering proven leaders of high calibre, even those who debated him fiercely for the presidential nomination.

Biden has championed support for independent institutions in emerging democracies, especially in making judiciaries independent and distancing law enforcement activities from political pressures. All the while, he has made no secret of the fact that he believes his own country has a long way to go in making its own established institutions more inclusive, fair and just.

There is little doubt that Biden will garner more votes, but his opponent has made no secret of his plan to win through an assault on the franchise more becoming of leaders of failed states than the President of the world’s largest democracy. He has made no secret of his motives when stuffing the Supreme Court with judges he believes will deliver him a second term.

Dictators, strongmen and autocrats worldwide are watching. Today, such people cling to power not through overt fascism but by putting on the thinnest guise of democracy. It is manna from heaven for them to see an American President boast of rigging the US Supreme Court to stay in power. If Trump succeeds, they will be inspired and emboldened to employ similar strategies to stifle the democratic will of their own people. If they see one American candidate win millions more votes, only to have their victory overturned by a partisan court, they will see a blueprint for how they too can cling to power.

When George W. Bush was declared president in 2000 by the Supreme Court stopping the counting of votes in Florida, three key lawyers on his legal team were John Roberts, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. All three now sit on the US Supreme Court, which may soon choose whether the next President of their country will be their “party man” or the man who won the most votes. If Trump wins six votes out of nine on the Supreme Court, it may not matter if he loses the popular vote by even six million.

Republicans in America content with dragging the courts into such an undemocratic constitutional coup d’état would do well to examine the events that led to the inception of their own political party. The Republican party in America came together after 1854 by uniting a growing number of American politicians whose fierce opposition to slavery left them without a party that reflected their convictions.

As the party and its philosophy garnered traction and it became clearer that a clear majority of Americans were opposed to slavery, it was newly elected pro-slavery president James Buchanan and partisan Chief Justice Roger Taney who in 1857 colluded to engineer a 7-2 judgment of the Supreme Court that declared that those of African descent were sub-human and thus must be treated as property all across the United States. Buchanan and Taney earned their place in history books by sharing a smirk and a wink at Buchanan’s presidential inauguration in March 1857, when many present realised that the fix was in.

The barbarism of this move and its aftermath played no small role in the election of the first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln three years later in 1860. The question of freedom and who deserved to be free so polarised America that it soon sucked the country into a bitter civil war. That war was won by those who stood for the principle that freedom and equality were the inalienable rights of all human beings. As this conflict played out in the 1860s, the world was not remotely as interconnected as it is today. The telephone had not yet been invented, and news crossed the planet no faster than a ship could sail the sea.

In today’s internet age, world leaders and citizens alike will watch events unfold in America in real time. Dictators, strongmen and autocrats have had an easy go of the last four years. They have basked in the shade of a wink and nod from an American president who admires and emulates them. Meanwhile journalists, rights advocates and those who fight for justice and the rule of law under the yoke of such rulers have found themselves abandoned and isolated.

Should a Biden electoral victory be suppressed by overruling the will of the American people, every dictator, strongman or autocrat who seeks to govern their people without their consent will speed through a bright green light, follow America’s example and craft policies and institutions that cement their power. Inspired by America, they will build politically apartheid states, democracies only in name, most of whose subjugated citizens will lie awake at night in fear if Biden consents to a forced defeat.

However, if a vast majority of Americans vote for Biden, if the centuries old institutions of law and order defend the will of the people and cement the role of democracy in the United States, those very same dictators, strongmen and autocrats who were banking on Donald Trump to legitimize them will have to face a new reckoning. It will be they who struggle to get a good night’s sleep.

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Latest comments

  • 1
    0

    A timely article .
    .
    It would be good to explain this statement:
    .
    * “under the American system, it is the combination of states you win that counts, not the number of votes, and Donald Trump became president on that technicality.”
    .
    Would this enlighten, without misleading? There’s an Electoral College made up of delegates from various States, of which there are (let’s say) 51. If you want to fine-tune that, check the Wikipedia entry. While it is true that the more populous states have more representatives in the college, it is not really proportional.
    .
    The final effect is that a vote in a sparsely populated rural State is worth more than one in a more thickly populated State. Those rural States have mainly white voters – please remember that they are not the “Bhumiputras” – that honour belongs to the Native Americans whom we used to call Red Indians. They tend to be less educated – well, farmers mostly, shall we say? They also tend to be “Christian Fundamentalists”. Parallel for us would be “Sinhala-Buddhists”.
    .
    Most of them vote Republican – for Trump this time, in other words.

  • 4
    4

    ” Why The World Is Counting On A Biden Victory “
    To refill the swamps and clean the drain pipe clogs.

  • 3
    2

    Mr Krishantha Cooray,
    .
    This is rather a smug statement by you:
    .
    * “all of which would be unthinkable in Sri Lanka or any civilized democracy.”
    .
    This map shows you the area that I live in: the Bandarawela Municipal Council:
    .
    http://www.lgpc.gov.lk/web/images/wardmaps/badulla/02_Badulla_BandarawelaMC.pdf
    .
    Do you not see something odd in this map? The Bandarawela Municipal Council is in two non-contiguous sections. One much smaller than the other. I live in Wewatenna Ward 2, 67G. The North-Western part of the map. To get to the Bandarawela town, I must necessarily go through the Haputhale Pradeshiya Sabha. There are two motorable roads – one of them is carpeted and buses often come up it to the National Holiday Resort.
    .
    The town is Wards 5 & 6 (Bandarawela East and West), which are shaded – they are “multi-member”. Why? It is fair enough. I will explain only if this takes off into becoming a discussion.
    .
    The Municipality is cut into two parts owing to the Haputhale Pradeshiya Sabha jutting into it.
    .
    This is the Bandarawela Pradeshiya Sabha.
    .
    http://www.mpclg.gov.lk/web/images/wardmaps/badulla/15_Badulla_BandarawelaPS.pdf
    .
    It is a larger, more rural area. It has an office; situated where? Within the Haputhale Pradeshiya Sabha.

    • 6
      0

      Hello Mr SM,

      You are the most honest srilanken I know on the web – but please take good care of you and your family. Today, being empowered by 20A, barbarians in power would not take the responsiblity, nor would any others, if anyone would harm you while living in SL. I have no faith at all about safeguarding basic human rights down there. Knowing this very well, Gotabaya led incumbent govt would not seek support from IMF and JIKA, even if the country is today on edges regarding its falls akin to that of Greece.

      lt is no wise but very naive to display your personal info on this PUBLIC forum. I think today s srilanka under the rule of BROTHER DUO and their criminal hechmen could harm anyone easily.They prove to have no brains but the muscles only. Besides, does your family know that you usually expose almost everything about you via internet?
      Not even writers to CT or any other forums would usually add their whereabouts properly. Like for example, I myself dont know who this KC, do you ? Just imagine, if Arjuna Mahendran, an another writer to CT who is alleged to have mastered so called CB BOND SCAM, though repeatedly published his articles on CT, he never exposed his contact details.

      Please dont trust anyone on the web !. You the kind of senior citizens are the assets of our mother land !!!!!!

  • 1
    2

    PART TWO
    .
    The absurdity
    will be even more obvious to you in this map of the Haputhale Pradeshiya Sabha?
    .
    http://www.mpclg.gov.lk/web/images/wardmaps/badulla/17_Badulla_HaputhalePS.pdf
    .
    Do you see something like an appendix in the North-West corner (top right)? Ward 64A – Kahaththewela and 64B Eranawela.
    .
    Kahaththewela is on the Bandarawela-Welimada Road. Eranawela is off the Bandarawela-Ettampitiya Road.
    .
    Perhaps you could check further with a road map.
    .
    Why has this happened?
    .
    Because when it was electorates that sent Members to Parliament, W.J.M. LokuBandara had said that unless that swathe with lots of Sinhalese voters was included in Haputhale, that electorate would return a Tamil M.P.
    .
    It may be that only I, with impeccable Sinhala credentials, have dared highlight this, but nothing has happened yet. To the credit of the current Mayor, Janaka Ratnayake, let me state that he expressed an intention to change this De-limitation, but it is a long process. I think the young man is sincere. The Administrative changes (Divisional Secretary offices) have to be effected first. Documents have to be sent to the Ministry of Home Affairs, Independence Square, Colombo 7.
    .
    Suggestion: Locate your residence using this: http://www.lgpc.gov.lk/web/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=63&Itemid=182&lang=en

    • 1
      7

      Sinhala_Man,
      Tamils want to create Tamil enclaves. Muslims want to create Muslim enclaves. Dumb Sinhalayo want to change boundaries to be fair to minorities.

      • 0
        0

        Yes, Eagle Eye,
        .
        PART A

        .
        I am a “Sinhalaya” who wants to be fair by all human beings who live on this island. If, because I desire to be fair, you want to label me as “Dumb”, so be it. See for yourself what “Racist Sinhalayo” like you have done to this lovely island; already half-ruined. I follow the perhaps faulty view that although “animals”are exploited by us, we must respect all humans. Are you a fellow who is actually agitating for a ban on cattle-slaughter? What hypocrisy!
        .
        Here’s something that all Sri Lankans will find interesting:
        .
        https://thewire.in/south-asia/sri-lanka-constitution-amendments-rajapaksa-gotabaya
        .
        Get this clear: I’m not anonymous. In a comment some way below this, I have given my name. Can you see it? On other occasions, I have given my NIC number. I’m going to provide a link to an article that I have written. Then you will see my photograph as well. I’m of the view that I display more courage doing all that than you ‘”Jathi aalaya” corrupt Sinhalayo’. I want to be cruel to you, because of your duplicity and play-acting. I don’t like you.

      • 0
        0

        PART TWO
        .
        I think that Krishantha Cooray
        had studied at S. Thomas’ Mt Lavinia. I hope that he will look at my article and be suitably shocked at what he finds there. I could say more, but the facts may sound too incredible – the injustices that are to be found even here, in Sri Lanka.
        .
        https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/challenging-three-cheating-thomian-pharisees-and-not-doing-it-from-behind/
        .
        Now that you are on to “race”, please see for yourself that I have had to make Police Complaints against two Anglican-Priest-Headmasters who bear Tamil names. The Bandarawela Police summoned Rev. Christopher Balraj. He had brought along his “Deveni Mahattaya”, Steeven Tambimuttu. Balraj told the HQI that I had been distributing a leaflet that would bring about racial unrest. I promptly distributed four copies of the leaflet, and asked him to show where.
        .
        I, unfortunately, lack forensic skills. I should have forced a stop to all discussion until he substantiated his lie. Colombo Telegraph has always been fair by me, but by oversight they had not attached that document to my article – I had sent it. There is a way in which I can guide you to its contents.

      • 0
        0

        PART THREE
        .
        Guys like me do what we can, but it’s not always effective. I also am aware of the unnecessary risks that I run. I fear death, but it, inevitably, must come. So, I will not be controlled by my fears. I have children, and grandchildren. I run risks in the hope that it will do them some good.
        .
        You keep following discussions where most participants are wrestling with real issues, and make these mischievous remarks. Other readers also complain, often make fun of you. It would be true to say that you are regarded as a paid lackey of the government. The comments made by you are predictable, malicious, and are never constructive. The payment you receive may not be as straight-forward as monthly employment, but there is little evidence of your making comments which are part of any discussion with us.
        .
        There’s no warmth in anything you say. No humour, no goodwill towards others. Just bigotry. Have you no conscience? At least Donald Trump probably has no control over himself. You’re nasty.
        .
        Now, why don’t you play fair by identifying yourself as unambiguously as me? You’ll be a happier person.

      • 3
        0

        EE
        If the Sinhalese also create their own enclaves instead we will all be in a happy federal state.
        Not a bad idea?

      • 0
        0

        EE,
        .
        Can we put it this way? RESTORE!
        .
        Boundary changes were initiated by SLFP Health Minister W.P.G. Ariyadasa even before Loku Bandara. Am I contradicting what I said before? Maybe. I don’t pretend to know all things.
        .
        Investigate! We members of the public cannot do that.
        .
        When asked, some people vaguely say that these anomalies are because of arbitrary divisions made by the British. Wrong. This was not so in the early 1960s of before.
        .
        What I want you to do is to look at the current position. Please see if this road map indicates what I said some days ago. Other maps, but best visit the area and see how there are daily inconvenieces to people who must go past Bandarawela town to Haputhale Divisional Secretariat which is located in Diyatalawa.
        .
        https://www.google.com/maps/place/Medical+Officer+Of+Health/@6.8380975,80.9788465,15z/data=!4m13!1m7!3m6!1s0x3ae470011c243a85:0xd94f7b8a6c4e9867!2sBandarawela!3b1!8m2!3d6.825878!4d80.9981576!3m4!1s0x0:0xaf8a341458b37148!8m2!3d6.8405811!4d80.9849507
        .
        Add to this discrimination in voter registration.
        .
        I’m first Sri Lankan, then identify as Sinhalese.

  • 4
    3

    Krishantha Cooray,
    The Supreme Court will not upset the decision of the general public. Joe Biden will be declared President. What happens after that, I am not certain.

    • 0
      1

      I agree, Nathan.
      .
      PART I

      .
      Of the many things I have said, the most surprising must have been this:
      .
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_justices_of_the_Supreme_Court_of_the_United_States
      .
      Appointments commenced in 1789, the year of the French Revolution, – 231 years ago. That there have been only 115 Members of the Cout is amazing. They’re well paid – something like $ 250,000 per annum, and so many serve until they die. So, even Amy Coney Barret will not want to sacrifice her “reputation” for the sake of a man who’ll be dead many years before her!
      .
      Upto now, not one Member of the Court has been sacked. So, security of tenure does seem to guarantee that few forces can influence a judge. If it is clear that apart from being almost 4 million votes ahead in the popular count, Biden has also won in the Electoral College with valid votes, I don’t think that any Supreme Court judge will interfere on behalf of Trump.

  • 1
    2

    PART A
    .
    I know very little about forms of government. I was a Science student, who later specialised in English, and would never have been allowed to teach anything other than English and Literature. However, my putting down what I know may be useful. I’m a retired “gambada ingireesi iskole mahattaya”. “Leelagemalli” who makes more comments now than anybody else on CT will, I think, certify that he believes me to consistently tell the truth.
    .
    I have never been outside Asia. However, I used to be considered “knowledgeable”, by guys like LM. If I am woefully lacking in understanding, please correct me, Krishantha. It will indicate that even a supposedly well-informed guy is ignorant – a significant finding that will be. On the other hand, I’m trying to display common sense!
    .
    I understand that it is universally held that there should be three branches for ordering the life of any society. These powers are best kept separate. The man who best discussed it was Montesquieu.
    .
    https://oll.libertyfund.org/pages/montesquieu-and-the-separation-of-powers
    .
    That looks a good article, but I’ve not really read it.

    • 2
      1

      Dear Sinhala_Man,
      What has having been a Science student got to do with knowing or not knowing forms of government. Most who patronize this Forum, I could say, have a similar beginning. Being civic minded is all what you need to be to know of forms of government.

      • 1
        1

        Dear Nathan,
        .
        You’re quite right. It’s just my way of saying that I’m no authority.
        .
        I’m hoping that such self-deprecating statements will encourage others also to be more honest about most of us groping for solutions.
        .
        No, being “civic-minded” is not sufficient to understand these complexities, but thanks for your honest and spontaneous observation. These are cries of despair on our part. I don’t want to make “clever” comments – like Eagle Eye forinstance. Life is difficult enough without our striking poses.
        .
        More honest comments welcome.
        .
        How I yearn for a forum where all will be honest with one another.

        • 4
          1

          Dear Sinhala Man,
          .
          dont worry, not everyone would have the interest of politics. But as a former science student, you could watch the video below…

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nv3ocntSSUU

          Dont you think if current politicians had good upbringing, would not they have acted so…. I think Rajaakshes should have their hypocratic nature from their younger age on… most of them.. not a single person in that family would not go against highly abusive politics of MaRa.

          To tell you, I believe, retired professionals of your calibre, could do lot more, if you read more about formation govts or thelike…… I know you said once, that your sisters live in SC in the states. That is said to be another swing state in the US apart from Pennsylvenia and Texas. What do they make of current election in the US ?
          :
          But when it goes with srilanken politics, it is high time you to take time and do your best today.. Those who have voted for CURRENT men, are totally unhappy today. I happened to watch several videos yestreday that gave a feeling that Gotabaya s performances are not different to that of Gamaralas… signs are there, that his popularity would be seen as a glass wall collapse sooner than later.

          • 1
            0

            My youngest sister – who was only 18 months old when my father died in 1963.
            .
            She’s in North Carolina which is very much a swing state. Her husband has a PhD in computer software. His PhD was from Chapel Hill. There are two other important “computer cities” in NC – Raleigh and Durham. Since we occasionally exchange views on email I’m not even sure which town she’s in.
            .
            I have no idea how she, her husband and daughter would vote. It would be very surprising if they voted for Trump.
            .
            South Carolina will definitely go to Trump.
            .
            Will she see this comment? No idea. Probably not.
            .
            What value would my prediction of results be? As you see, I’ve been following carefully. I want it to be a landslide, and looked at objectively, I think that it will be.
            .
            The Senate seats will be very important..

  • 1
    1

    PART B
    .
    Laws must be legislated.
    In Sri Lanka, we now have 225 (not greatly respected) Members of Parliament, whom we, the people, have chosen. We did away with the Upper House (the Senate) about 1970.
    .
    In America, there is a House of Representatives with 435 members, who serve two-year terms. All of them will be elected next week. Only one Representative from the least populous States; more from the “larger” States. So, there are more Democrats in “the House”.
    .
    There are two Senators from each State, irrespective of size. Therefore, the Republicans have a majority. How? There are many “low-population States”. Senators serve for six years, but they are elected one-third at a time. Next week, 33 will be elected. This brings a benefit: you don’t have dramatic fluctuations – as in Sri Lanka in 1977. Before that Sri Lankan election, the SLFP had lots of MPs; after, very few.
    .
    That is my broad understanding.
    .
    I think that we know enough about American Executive Presidential Elections. Two-term Presidency was only a convention; it became statutory after F.D. Roosevelt was elected four times, and died whilst in office.

  • 2
    1

    PART C

    What prompted me to write this was just now seeing this headline about the Sri Lankan Supreme Court.
    .
    Supreme Court bench to be expanded from 11 to 17; CA 12 to 19

    .
    Our population is 21.4 million; the USA has 328 million, the third largest population in the world. Their supreme court has only nine members, although for a brief period ending in 1866 there were ten judges . No upper age limit, and no retirement age. That is right – if they have acquired the Art of Living for ever, they can be judges for ever. In practical terms, they just can’t be removed.
    .
    Since the Court was constituted in 1789, there have been only 115 members of the SCOTUS. Many have retired when they felt that they were too old. A number of judges have been on the Court for more than thirty years. Only one judge has been impeached, in 1804, but he was reinstated the following year. That is why selection is so careful.
    .
    The idea is that no Member of SCOTUS need be subservient to the Executive.

    • 2
      0

      The SCOTUS has only 9 members because USA is a federal state with Federal Courts exercising immense power, under their jurisdictions, and only a certain type of case is referred to the SCOTUS.

  • 4
    2

    Trump and his cronies have tried everything to sabotage Democratic voters, especially in minority areas, and making it hard for them to cast their votes. The American elections have been smoothly held, with few glitches, for YEARS, and candidates from both parties have been elected, until this corrupt man, manufactures crisis after crisis, to cause doubt on it, and make the voters feel their vote is not secure, all to cheat and win. The majority in the country expect this man to challenge the results and take it up to the Supreme Court, where his hand picked puppets who are the majority, will unjustly vote to support his re-election.
    He kept stating that Hillary Clinton would win by rigged elections in 2016, yet he won. He is now doing the same, and it is HE who is trying to rig the elections, by sabotaging the Postal Service, making people of color stand in line for hours, reducing the number of mailing boxes, sorting machines, and slowing the system down.
    Hope the American people have the good sense to vote him out.

  • 0
    3

    ‘Twas the night before elections,
    And all thro’ the land,
    America slept dreaming,
    In nightmarish fear
    *
    Trump sat in bed,
    With hand thumping head,
    “Oh God I could have won with a landslide,
    With a simple mask to respect the dead.”
    *
    Trump who brought much peace
    To the whole world and all
    But will peace really last
    When world dictators go power-mad?
    *
    And Biden, now what will he do,
    Will he go around bombing the globe,
    Like his predecessors two?
    *
    Or the art of compromise, did he learn,
    From Trump gallant ways,
    And be able to peacefully defeat
    The global dictatorial craze?
    *
    Then comes the culture wars;
    Will abortion be fine?
    Will Ginsburg’s ghost
    Care for those innocent lives gone?
    *
    With Corbett will come
    General common-sense
    To build up the human family,
    And uphold higher human intent
    *
    But with Corbett will also come
    The rising health-care premium,
    Hospital costs, out of reach ever more
    For the ever long-suffering.
    *
    So I close my eyes and say a prayer
    For help from the heavens above.
    Please let me choose wisely I plead
    Otherwise we will be all surely lost.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tf1wtzOoXDA

    • 0
      0

      S_M,
      Alas.

      • 0
        0

        Sorry…this was meant for your comment below.

  • 4
    1

    Donald Trump became president not on a technicality, but in terms of the US Constitution.

    In USA Presidential election is not decided on the popular vote, but depend on who wins the most number of Electoral College votes.

    Total electoral votes: is 538; majority needed to elect: 270.

    Whoever gets at least 270 votes will get elected..

  • 0
    1

    RTF, On whose side are you? It is not like you to be sitting on the fence.
    .
    srikrish, it is obviously according to a certain system that is in place that Trump won the 2016 election. What Krishantha Cooray has said is that the system is not one that anyone can be happy about. I agree absolutely. The relatively ignorant minority has prevailed over the more enlightened majority. What I did was to interpret the “technicality” with (shall Irisk saying it?) “pretended objectivity”. I was not neutral.
    .
    So, srikrish, what you are saying is that you are happy that Trump won. O.K.
    .
    That still does not invalidate the observation tht the system is flawed. Of course, all knew that the system was in place in the months, even years, leading up to the election. That the system needs overhaul is obvious, but changing it is a grave decision. Now, we can’t help but compare with what happens in Sri Lanka. Here the changes cannot even be discussed. They are smuggled in after the election has been won hinting at a different approach.
    .
    I realise that I may be saying no more than that our Banana Republic is even worse than the “mighty” U.S.
    .
    Both are bad.

    • 1
      0

      ,Dear Sinhala- Man,

      Do I look like a supporter of Donald Trump? I am not a voter in USA!

      My comment was an academic response to Mr Krishantha Cooray pointing out factual errors in his article.

      USA has a Federal system.

      The states are nearly autonomous in many areas..

      The states have their own laws even in the Presidential election.

      The laws vary from state to state, that is the beauty of the Federal System.

      Now look atthis! Even when the states elect Electoral College members,there is no single uniform system applicable throughout the entire country, the popular vote in each of the 48 states counts, the winner takes all electoral college vote..
      .
      But in two states, Nebraska and Maine, do not follow this winner-take-all method. In those states, electoral votes are proportionally allocated.

      Now my preference, Mr Sinhala-Man,

      When a country is heterogeneous like Sri Lanka , a federal system is preferable

      • 1
        1

        I agree about the Federal system, but using the word “Federal” is like “showing a red flag to a bull.”
        .
        Come to think of it, that’s rather an inept statement, taken from the horrible Spanish sport of bull-fighting. Bulls are colour blind. The matador goads the poor bull (which is fated to die within an hour) and waves his red flag.
        .
        Most Sinhalese, irrationally, regard it as a dirty word.

    • 0
      1

      S_M,
      I still have to make up my mind. Hopefully I will do so on Nov. 3rd just before the polls close (shredded my postal vote because I changed my mind just before I put it in the mail-box). Too many factors to consider. It’s not as simple as the last time- the bombings of the Arab nations were terrible to see. Trump took care of all of that. But we can never be sure if Democratic sporadic bombings will be equal to a Republican nuclear war. Can America really engage with its enemies and cross fingers that the rest of their rivals will comply? America is, in the end, trying to only hold on to US global dollar value. It is no easy task. And that they will need to do because their system is too concretely set up that way. Place like China has other alternatives. But no, they are power-hungry and want to take over from the West. Not a good thing to billions of other humans. Trying to punish the West will only result in nuclear war.

      • 1
        1

        Dear RTF,
        .
        You are essentially a good egg.

        .
        As such, I order you to vote for Biden-Harris, and for Democratic Senate and House candidates, if applicable in your State (Pennsylvania? Where William Penn treated Native Americans so decently about 330 years ago – BTW, where is Native Veddah?).
        .
        See what Qattar-based Al Jazeera is saying:
        .
        https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/11/2/why-winning-the-us-popular-vote-doesnt-ensure-victory
        .
        Clearer than what you are saying. If there were nothing else for us guys to do, we may be able to understand this crazy system.
        .
        It will take about a week for us to have an idea of what has happened if the race is close, isn’t that so? Let’s hope that a Democratic landslide buries Trump well and truly within the next four days or so.
        .
        Stop dithering woman, and go vote!
        .

        • 0
          3

          I’ll toss a coin.

          • 1
            1

            Irresponsible Wench!
            .
            Are you going to tell us soon after voting, or (owing to your Sri Lankan genes) only after the results are out?
            .
            If it is the latter, I shall toss a coin to see if I should believe you -if you have said you voted for the winner.
            .
            RTF, is it Pennsylvania? Seriously, that’s a valuable vote.
            .
            See how untypical of Sri Lankans I am. I voted NPP – but that contributed to the election of this fine M.P.
            .
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xICIjxBZSqw
            .
            Unfortunately a woman!
            .
            She usually speaks in Sinhalese, but in this speech she switches to English after about three minutes. I’m linking it for the second time mindful of the fact that many readers will not understand Sinhala.
            .
            Please note this: she is not a Member of the JVP. She says that decency, gallentry and democracy are found in the NPP Coalition.

            • 2
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              Don’t mock and jeer S_M. This is a deeply emotional and contentious issue to many people in America and around the world. There is a fear that violence might erupt. Militias (from both the alt left and right) have stocked up on their ammo, ready to create chaos. Many have stocked up on essentials as the shops are boarding up. Do continue writing comments of constructive value. Curb any unnecessary feelings of retaliation and obsession.

              • 1
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                And quit the sexist comments also.

            • 3
              0

              S.M,
              For once, I tend to agree with your elderly “wench”.
              The US is not governed, as we fondly believe, by the guy in the White House. It makes little difference who is in there, because power is in the hands of unseen corporate bosses. You don’t have to believe me, it was President Eisenhower who said it.

  • 4
    1

    Yes, it is not a technicality at all. Electoral college is deep rooted in the history of the US Constitution and the US Federation. It is much needed to balance out the population sizes of each state, where states with lower population numbers like Iowa and Massachusetts will have equal voting parity with high-population states like California and Texas. Each state is like a semi-country, of which without the Federal unity, will unravel into separate countries….and many are waiting to secede.

    • 0
      1

      Other commenters, thanks for tolerating an ignoramus like me! RTF, I’ve just looked at this:
      .
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Senate
      .
      Puzzled. Massachusetts? Not a joke State, although small area-wise. Populated, with educated people. Iowa seems to sit in the middle. The real jokes are the Dakotas with so few people, and uneducated! Saying those things I’m bracing myself for an attack from you!
      .
      Sounds crazy to me. Perhaps I won’t understand even if you explain.
      .
      It seems very unfair that those Red (Republican) States should be granted parity, with the result that a clown like Trump is foisted on the WORLD, because there’s no gainsaying that America remains very important, even if China is now challenging.
      .
      Yes, I have noted how the Republican and Democratic parties have changed places. I knew about FDR’s “New Deal”, but read up today about the “great failure” – Herbert Hoover. Totally out-maneuvred by Roosevelt. If Trump loses will he be compared to Hoover?
      .
      However, I note this. Trump is a horrible man from a horrible family.
      .
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Family_of_Donald_Trump
      .
      Hoover was a decent human being, even if muddled and a terrible politician. I didn’t know that he’d made his money by mining gold in Australia.
      .
      The World will definitely be a better place without Trump as POTUS.
      .
      Thanks, Agnos.
      .
      Panini Edirisinhe aka “Sinhala_Man”

      • 1
        2

        Those mid-westerns states are of high IQ’s and education. They strive to preserve their farming communities and rural lifestyles (albeit some racism). It’s the people in the congested coastal cities that have the issues.

        • 0
          0

          Rubbish, RTF.
          .
          But then how can I know considering that I’m a “Gambada Iskole Mahattaya” in Uva, which is the most backward Province in backward Sri Lanka?
          .
          So backward that it is believed by many that I don’t know any proper English.
          .
          Now couldyou please tell us how you voted? Also, did you have to mark quite different ballots for the Senate and the House? Any referenda in your State?

    • 7
      0

      California’s population is close to 40 million.
      Wyoming has 0.5 million.

      How is the EC compatible with such lop-sided growth of states?
      It s time to abolish the electoral college. But even if that is not done, the inward migration of younger people into NC, GA, TX and AZ will make these states blue within the next 4–8 years, leaving the Republican party out of power and a permanent minority. The party needs to be destroyed by all means for the unpardonable sin of foisting Trump on the country, thus being responsible for a massive Covid-19 death count, and then coming up with weaselly justifications. for Trump.

      • 1
        3

        Both parties are in agreement with the EC equation before they run. EC is not too lop sided, with electors based on population numbers and within voting margins. For example an elector can only choose within a set percentage margin, say 5%. A 40-60 result will result in electors having to choose the 60%. But they are at liberty to choose within a 45-55 win. There is much more of course together with arrangements of precincts according to continous change in demographic numbers. Remember, Trump was very much against the EC, till he won of course. It can go either way.

        • 5
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          EC is also a short hand for how each state gets 2 senators. That gives a small number of people in Wyoming or Delaware or Montana or Vermont the same number of senators as California’s 40 million people. Such a system distorts everything. It doesn’t protect any endangered minority groups, as the Federal arrangement in certain countries is intended. Instead, it allows the less educated, bible-thumping and gun-toting people in rural areas to dictate terms to the better educated, more productive and enlightened citizens in large urban areas.

          What the election of Trump and the last 4 years have revealed is that America’s founders were not as sagacious as they are often made out to be. But since changing the system will require 2/3 majority in Congress ratification by a majority of states, I will take the less burdensome task of making NC, GA, TX, and AZ blue.

          • 1
            2

            Agnos,
            They balance it out with a proportional number of Representatives from each state.

            • 3
              0

              No, it doesn’t balance it out. While the senate has to pass what the House does, there are also several things that only the Senate handles, e.g., all court appointments. Moreover, senators were supposed to be elder statesmen who would deliberate carefully, but what we have are many toadies who cling to the President’s posterior. Graham, Paul and Cruz personify it. Anyway, I don’t want to continue to have this conversation with an ignorant Trump supporter.

              • 1
                3

                Agnos,

                Your debating strategies include ad hominem?

                But Representatives have their own set of procedures and powers. Works well for Democrats when they are in power. It can work either way. It is a near perfect Democratic system for a large country like the US. Also, Senators have term limits, and can be voted out/in after 6 years.

                • 0
                  1

                  RTF,
                  .
                  I’m sorry to be treading on your corns, but you do say things that I cannot agree with.
                  .
                  Your ao called system is as imperfect as can be. However, I grant you honesty – and there are quite a few things that I learn from you. Why not give us your most recent views here?
                  .
                  https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/what-sri-lanka-can-take-away-from-the-us-elections/
                  .
                  Comments on this article will cease soon, but no result is known yet.
                  .

  • 7
    2

    Mr. Cooray,

    You should worry more about strongmen, war criminals, lack of institutions with people of integrity ( judges, politicians, civil society, law enforcement) to protect the people in SL.

    America has enough institutions to withstand even an onslaught by a man like Trump. He is an evil clown, depraved creature of the NY real estate and sexual swamp, a snake oil salesman with thousands of lies in his 4 years in office, using government and secret service protection to benefit his properties, utterly incompetent to handle the Covid-19 crisis, scandalously claiming he would drain the Washington swamp.

    The first step of draining the Washington swamp is to send Trump back to his NY (now FL) swamp. More likely than not, it will be known decisively in a few days, though he will try to come up with court cases to challenge it. More than 90 million people have already voted. I voted 6 weeks ago. Turnout this year could reach 155 million ( In 2016, it was close to 130 m). I have confidence Biden-Harris will win and then in 4 years it will be Harris-Buttigieg, transitioning to younger generation. The latter is sober, level-headed young man who deserves the presidency at some point.

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