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Trump, The Georgia Tapes, and the Future of Democracy

On Sunday, January 3rd, not two days out from Georgia’s monumental Senate runoff election, tapings of a phone call between President Donald Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger released. In a moment that can only be described as jaw-dropping, President Trump asked Raffensperger to “find 11,780 votes” in the state of Georgia to certify Trump’s win in the state. Many claims were made by Trump during the hour-long call, including subtle threats and affirmations that he won the state over President-elect Joe Biden. 

These tapes were released following the announcement of several prominent GOP Senators affirming that they’ll contest Biden’s election. At the forefront of that battle is Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who has gone on record claiming the election was fraudulent and that there are historical precedents to affirm a win for Trump. Senator Cruz’s pushback will not impact the outcome of the election. It will, however, continue to push a dangerous set of rules for democracy.

So what do these tapes mean for the Georgia election? What do these tapes mean for the future of democracy? Time and time again, President Trump continues to shake the Presidential status quo, and democracy is the one taking the beating for his actions.

Regarding the Runoff

The phone call between Trump and Raffensperger took place on January 2nd, making everything the President said shockingly recent. In his call, beyond demanding Georgia certifies their electoral vote in favor of Trump, Trump directly discusses the Georgia Senate runoff. He said that “the people of Georgia know that this is a scam, and because of what you’ve done to the president, a lot of people aren’t going out to vote, and a lot of Republicans are going to vote negative because they hate what you did to the president.” Trump is set to have a rally in Georgia on Monday in support of candidates David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, both incumbent Republicans. 

Image via Unsplash.

In sticking with the narrative of voter fraud, Trump is going to impact the Republican runoff vote in unknown ways. As of Sunday, January 3rd, over 3 million votes have been cast in the runoff. Knowing Trump openly distrusts the democratic process in Georgia sets an interesting example: will Republican voters be turned away by the President’s sentiments? Will Trump encourage voters to head out to the polls on Tuesday? At this point, it’s unclear what his game is, and it’s unclear how the tapes are going to impact Georgia come Tuesday.

What is crystal clear, though, is that Trump is using his own understanding of Georgia electoral numbers to form his own opinions. In a direct quote from Trump, he claimed that, in Georgia, “they are shredding ballots, in my opinion, based on what I’ve heard. And they are removing machinery and they are moving it as fast as they can.” These claims are baseless. 

Presidential Precedents Set

“There’s no way I lost Georgia,” he said, “There’s no way. We won by hundreds of thousands of votes.” President Trump’s rhetoric regarding the vote in Georgia is downright dangerous at this point. He is setting the unfortunate stage for any future political candidates to object to the democratic process if they don’t like the numbers given. Despite court rulings and certifications of the legitimacy of mail-in voting, Trump continues to claim that he won the election. This is something never before seen in the United States before, and it’s wildly embarrassing. 

In the call, Trump can be heard threatening Raffensperger and his lawyer, Ryan Germany. “That’s a criminal offense,” Trump said, referring to Georgia’s failure to find pro-Trump ballots, “And you can’t let that happen. That’s a big risk to you and to Ryan, your lawyer.” Trump implied that, if Raffensperger failed to take action in certifying the vote for Trump, legal action would be taken against him. 

The Georgia call is an hour-long rant from Trump, who often goes off on tangents about the legitimacy of Georgia’s votes and the conspiracies that work in his favor. This behavior is unprecedented from the leader of the United States and will cast an alarming shadow for any future candidates to come. 

The Future of Democracy

2020 (and now 2021) has been a volatile year for politics. And through it all, democracy has prevailed, but just barely. At this point, the United States is severely polarized, perhaps beyond the point of no return. As previously mentioned, several senators and prominent leaders of the GOP have been openly questioning the legitimacy of the voting process for months. If there’s no trust in the established voting system, what’s the point of existing in a democracy? The notion that a significant win by a candidate can be questioned by the opposing party is unheard of in the U.S. in recent history. Will this occur with the Georgia runoff, if Ossoff and Warnock win? Will this continue to occur in elections down the line? 

Trump’s grasp on democracy’s neck is so tight that leaders of the nation have become blind to America’s longstanding democratic values. The release of the Georgia tapes is incriminating, yes, but it’s equally dangerous. Contesting a legitimate election is dangerous. Not being able to find common ground between the two major American parties is dangerous. American democracy is hanging in the balance of Trump’s legacy as president, and only time will tell what will happen from here on out. 

Image Credit: Unsplash

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