Show without a director: Russian political scientists assessed the American elections

Show without a director: Russian political scientists assessed the American elections
Show without a director: Russian political scientists assessed the American elections
6 November 2020, 09:40Photo:
Even on the second day after the end of the vote it was not clear who would become the next American president. The fight is not for every state, but for every vote. Russian political scientists are trying to solve the riddles of electoral democracy. One thing is clear: if elections are real, the result is not known.

Yelena Ivanova, Natalia Seibil

Novye Izvestia spoke with political analysts and asked them to explain why the electoral process in the United States is so difficult, and why in the most developed country in the world that has not experienced authoritarianism, an act of expression of will turns into a battle on all fronts, so that the president can eventually appoint a Supreme Court, as it did once before. We received a wide variety of answers, from very difficult to very simple. Experts spoke about the defects of electoral democracy, demographic contradictions, the fate of neoliberalism and conservatism, and conspiracy theories were also involved.

Professor, Doctor of Political Sciences Yuliy Nisnevich believes that the victory of electoral democracy does not mean the victory of democracy. We see a clear picture: the elections can bring a candidate far from democracy, as was the case with Trump in 2016. The scientist calls the current situation a victory of electoral democracy over common sense:

- American society is split on an emotional level. If you now ask the supporters of both sides, they will not really explain anything to you. Most people who vote for Biden vote against Trump. These are emotions. Unfortunately, this is the defect buried in electoral democracy. This is clearly visible now. What is so good about the American system is that even the flaws of democracy are highlighted in all of them. The American system will outlive everyone, it outlived Trump. But it is clear that there is a serious problem in this key moment. Eighty percent of Americans who vote don't understand these professional things. It's an emotion for them. What the professionals say there is their own business. All of these pros were predicting a landslide victory for Biden. There is a huge irrational component in the elections, and this was not my idea.

The director general of the Institute for Political Studies, Sergei Markov, is sure that the US elections were rigged. Someone throws votes for Biden at night, and Twitter and Facebook, in favor of the Democratic candidate, prevent Trump from bringing the truth to the people:

- The states of the "rust belt" voted in 2016 for Trump not as a Republican, but as a man against the establishment. There are two scales there - Republicans and Democrats, on the one hand, and the establishment and anti-establishment, on the other. They voted in 2016 for Trump and now for Trump, but the result was rigged in favor of Biden. The explanation for the votes for Biden in the mail is realistic and cannot be dismissed. But the steep curve of support in favor of Biden and the attempt by social networks, primarily Twitter and Facebook, which support Biden, to ban the distribution of these materials, are alarming.

Political scientist Dmitry Oreshkin believes that Biden's victory actually took place, and it marks the victory of institutions over personal charisma:

- It is predictable that Trump will extort lawsuits to the last. What is very important is the victory of institutions over personal charisma. Trump, like Zhirinovsky and Lukashenko, is a strong personality with paranoid inclinations, who himself lives in a specific world where he is always right and he is the best, and all enemies are insignificant personalities. Being a strong personality, he tries to force everyone else to live by these rules. This requires the destruction of institutions. Trump has long and stubbornly tried to bend American institutions under him. Apparently, he failed to do this. This is a very big positive side of the American elections. Lukashenka bent under him, and Putin bent the country under him, bringing to nothing institutions like the Constitutional Court, the Federation Council, and the electoral system. And Trump did not succeed.

So what are the American elections - the triumph of democracy or the manifestation of a political crisis? Alexey Mukhin, General Director of the Center for Political Information, believes in the sacredness of the presidency and believes that the dethronement of shrines leads to war:

- There is a taste of "The End of Politics" in the Fukuyama sense, it is. There is a feeling that the US is enjoying this crisis and is not going to stop or stop it. The moment is not far when the protocol of self-destruction will be launched. Rather, it has already been launched, but the moment is not far off when the process will be irreversible. It began in 2016 with an extremely strong forced desacralization of the presidential post. This process lasted four years, and this process will only intensify, whoever wins. If Trump, all the conditions remain, if Biden - then forgive me, a man standing with one foot in the grave is unlikely to serve as a model for a new sacralization of the presidential institution. In this regard, a serious test awaits us in the future, in any case. The complete disregard for the political content of the crisis and its possible transfer to the military phase raises concern.

The head of the Center for the Development of Regional Policy Ilya Grashchenkov points out the fundamental difference between Russian and American elections:

- We are used to the fact that elections in Russia are absolutely predictable, but not in the USA. But this time, American politics broke their record. It has been two days since the elections ended, and it is still not clear who won. If on the first day we celebrated Trump's victory, then on the second day it turned out that Biden had won. Although it is now obvious that the victory will be won in the Supreme Court. I believe that Trump will no longer have enough strength to defend his superiority. Not only democratic elites are against him, but also the street - BLM and others. In fact, either the confrontation will develop into real turmoil, or everything will be over within a week, and the American bureaucracy will defeat non-systemic trumpism. There is a feeling that this will be the case, because the epidemic of the virus has seriously hit Trump's position as a defender of the common people.

Ilya Grashchenkov says there are signs that a wave of reaction to neoliberalism is ending in America, which has now begun to strengthen its mainstream position again. Dmitry Oreshkin agrees that cities that embody progress are beating a province that stands for conservatism:

- Cities speak their final word. And this is very important, because in the last 10 years we have seen the opposite picture in the world, when the conservative province won the victory, in Russia, where Putin's support is Chechnya, Dagestan, but not Moscow or St. Petersburg; that in Poland, where Warsaw opposes the current conservative government; that in the USA, that in Great Britain, where London was against Brexit, and the English province was for good old England. In America, this conflict between the provinces and densely populated, rapidly developing mega-centers turned out to be in favor of the centers, and this is a good sign, because, perhaps, it means the end of the 10-15th anniversary of the rollback to the past, because all these people appeal to the "great past." The Make America Great Aegain model starts to fail, and the need for renewal is forming. And America, perhaps, was one of the first to follow this path, albeit with great difficulty.

Elections differ in that their outcome is not predictable. Yuli Nisnevich argues with State Duma Speaker Volodin, who called the American elections a "theater show for the Democrats":

- If elections are elections, then the result is not known. Otherwise, it is gaining power by manipulating the vote. This is a kind of procedure to form some kind of government body, president or parliament, by manipulating the vote. It's such a plebiscite system, whatever you call it. In an election, the result is never known in advance. Even if there is a 90% chance of winning the election, this means that there is a defect in the procedure. When you know the result in advance, this is called a theatrical show. When you know the election results, you are not even organizing a theater, you are organizing a circus.

What the experts lacked in these elections was the struggle of ideas. The American elections were always interesting because candidates presented their ideas and set goals. There were grains of such ideas in the current elections. Perhaps it is necessary to introduce an educational or age qualification, asks Julius Nisnevich. But experts are sure of one thing - the American elections are not a theatrical performance. A script and a director are needed for the play. There is neither one nor the other. At one point, emotional currents clashed, not the best option. But this is the peculiarity of all fair elections.

Found a typo in the text? Select it and press ctrl + enter