Nikki Haley, the closest rival to former President Donald Trump, and Indian American entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy are expected to spar with each other in the fourth GOP-sponsored presidential debate at the University of Alabama on Tuesday night as former ex-New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is expected to hold his own on his anti-Trump stance.
Even as the world noted Donald Trump’s first acknowledgment of the fact that his Democratic rival “won” a contentious election and hoped that he was coming around to acceptance of his defeat, his supporters have tailored their responses to the rest of his message which said the win was secured by fraud, and to a subsequent message saying he had not conceded the election.
Protests themed “Stop the Steal” have broken out across several American cities and even turned violent in the national capital. Through this, Mr Trump appeared to be egging protests on as he drove through streets lined with his supporters apparently to encourage them. Despite a series of setbacks in courts, including one where proffered evidence was termed “inadmissible hearsay within hearsay”, Mr. Trump appears determined to prolong America’s agony and stymie any hopes for a smooth transition that his successor or others may have nurtured.
But it will boil down, in the ultimate analysis, to how his fellow Republicans respond to the electoral outcome. While some prominent members of Mr Trump’s party have congratulated Mr Joe Biden, most have either endorsed their candidate’s obduracy or straddled the fence. Worryingly for a country that has a tradition of hating sore losers, Mr. Trump’s position appears to have emboldened his party colleagues to take positions that echo his own.
Republican candidates in elections to the Senate from Arizona and Michigan have not conceded defeat, while a candidate for the House of Representatives from Baltimore wants an investigation into an election where her rival won 72 per cent of the vote.
The consequence of these actions is that instead of coming together as a nation as Mr Biden had hoped they would, Americans appear to be getting more polarised by the day. If the events of the weekend ~ that saw protests in support of Mr Trump mushroom across cities ~ are an indication, the schism is set to widen. Former President Barack Obama has appealed to his successor to step down gracefully, by accepting that the Presidency is temporary by design, and asked Mr Trump to consider his legacy.
But it is not so much the four years that have gone by but the years ahead that drive Mr Trump and many in his party. Contributions to the party’s coffers are growing and some estimates say nine of ten Republicans endorse his Presidency. In defiance of opinion polls, Mr Trump secured more votes than any other Republican Presidential candidate in history.
This makes him a hugely potent force, and whether he chooses to run again in 2024 or not, he controls the Republican party and will be its sole kingmaker. Republican candidates for other positions realise they need Mr Trump’s draw and popularity to secure their own political futures and few will therefore take him on. Mr Trump had started to cry foul long before the election took place; it is unlikely that he will now accept the outcome. He is determined to be dragged out of the White House. America will be poorer.