The ongoing poll process in the world’s oldest democracy has brought out the fault lines in the country’s social fabric and has demonstrated beyond any doubt that in order to be great once again, America needs to be united first. The nail-biting finish to the election does not appear to be going in the President’s favour, and the Joe Biden-Kamala Harris team appears to be on the threshold of creating history. However, the consequences of this extremely divisive poll would be experienced throughout the world, and the primacy of the global superpower would be under close scrutiny.

There have been many nations that look up towards Uncle Sam since they believe that the US represents equality, justice and opportunity. What has unfolded during the run up, and in the aftermath of the bitter electoral confrontation, must have disappointed many of these countries. Donald Trump’s supporters have openly identified themselves with the controversial thesis of white supremacy, thereby giving legitimacy to racial groups that have always existed. Therefore, if the President was to lose this close contest, normalcy may take a long time to return, unless Trump himself appeals to his constituency in the larger interest of both democracy and peace. Unfortunately, this does not seem to be happening and the fairness of the entire process is being openly questioned leading to further division in the country.

Trump has publicly declared that the matter would go to the Supreme Court, and he would not “allow anyone to steal this election from him”. This is where senior Republican leaders need to step in, so that people’s faith in fair elections is not eroded in any manner. It is an accepted fact that every vote should be counted, and after that the winner would be automatically determined. America has a long history of conducting elections even in most trying circumstances and it has always come out victorious. There is no reason why this cannot happen once again.

In the past 60 years, there has been controversy over the final outcome. This happened in 2002 when George Bush (Jr) won in a close race with Al Gore. This was the case even in 1960 when John Kennedy scraped through after beating Richard Nixon in what was described as irregularities in vote counting in Chicago. This is not uncommon for the defeated nominees to question the result. In our own country, when in 2019, Narendra Modi led the BJP to a historic victory, there were those who spoke about “technology” being deployed to “rig the election in over 165 constituencies”. These type unsubstantiated allegations, harm democracy and therefore the people’s verdict should always be respected and upheld even if it goes against one’s wishes.

The Trump versus Biden standoff should serve as a wake-up call for the American people. The US Constitution has inspired many Constitutions around the world including ours even though India chose to follow the Westminster model. It should be treated as the most sacrosanct guiding principle in these turbulent times. The differences should end once the winner is declared. If Biden trumps Trump, the President can still come back and make his second bid after four years. And if Trump triumphs, it would be end of Biden’s long political innings.