[Editorial] Chaos of US election shows the instability of the current world order

Posted on : 2020-11-05 16:36 KST Modified on : 2020-11-05 16:36 KST
US President Donald Trump gives a speech at around 2:30 am on Nov. 4. (AFP/Yonhap News)
US President Donald Trump gives a speech at around 2:30 am on Nov. 4. (AFP/Yonhap News)

As the world anxiously awaits the results of the US presidential election, what it has instead witnessed is complete chaos. With millions of ballots left to count, we are in an unprecedented situation in which President Trump has claimed the victory and said he will ask the Supreme Court to stop the vote count.

Trump told supporters who had gathered at the White House early in the morning on Nov. 4 that “we did win this election” and that all counting of votes should stop. With Trump holding a lead in five of the six battleground states that would decide the election, he wanted to shut down the counting of mail-in ballots that would likely favor Joe Biden.

For the sitting president to threaten to shut down the counting of votes legally cast by citizens constitutes an illegal attack on the foundations of democracy and the electoral system, one that’s likely to provoke a public backlash.

In an earlier press conference, Biden emphasized the need to count all votes, while predicting that he’s on the path to victory. Winning the election requires at least 270 votes in the electoral college; as of Nov. 5, CNN reported that Trump has 213 and Biden at 253.

The coronavirus pandemic drove a surge in mail-in ballots, which are likely to be a decisive factor that may well determine the winner of the election.

It’s dismaying to see how far the US, supposedly a global paragon of democracy, has fallen. If Trump continues to take issue with mail-in ballots and actually files a lawsuit, it may well take longer before the winner is decided, prolonging the confusion.

This election lays bare the crisis represented by the severe divisions in American society. Trump has relied on far-right conspiracy theories and egged on racism throughout this election. His supporters have turned to violence, plotting to kidnap a Democratic governor and intimidating Biden campaign vehicles.

Instances of violence both great and small continued until the day before the election, forcing officials to take the extreme precaution of installing barriers around the White House. If the final outcome of the election continues to be delayed or either side refuses to accept that outcome, it’s possible we could see physical clashes between the supporters of the two sides.

The South Korean government needs to prepare fully for the uncertainty that could result from this election chaos. The crisis in the US should stand as a warning that the familiar global order is being rocked to its core.

As it confronts such unprecedented challenges, South Korea needs to devise sophisticated strategies in foreign policy, economics, and inter-Korean relations to help it coolly navigate the turbulence of our times.

Please direct comments or questions to [english@hani.co.kr]

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