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The President Versus Democracy – The New York Times

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This is a dark and dangerous moment for American democracy.

A sitting president has spent months telling lies about non-existent voter fraud. Now that his re-election bid is in deep trouble — but with the outcome still uncertain — he has unleashed a new torrent of falsehoods claiming that the other side cheated. He has demanded the Supreme Court intervene to decide the election in his favor.

His supporters are staging protests in Arizona, Michigan, Nevada and Pennsylvania meant to interfere with legitimate vote counting. In Phoenix, some have showed up at the State Capitol with guns (as you can see in this short video taken by my colleague Simon Romero).

The worst democratic outcome — in which judges appointed by the president’s political party intervene to overrule the apparent will of voters — seems likely to be avoided. The Supreme Court has shown no signs of halting vote counts, and Joe Biden’s leads in the decisive states may end up being large enough to avoid the election hinging on the sort of ballot-counting minutiae (like hanging chads) that decided the 2000 result in Florida.

But President Trump’s actions are still causing significant damage. They undermine his supporters’ faith in the country’s government. They also undermine the credibility of the United States around the world. And they force election officials, journalists and social-media platforms to choose between telling the truth and sounding nonpartisan; it is impossible to do both about Trump’s election claims.

In the simplest terms, the president of the United States is attacking American democracy in an effort to remain in office.

For more: Dahlia Lithwick, Slate: “We are as confounded today about the lies as we were in 2016. We ignore them at the peril of democracy; we engage with them at the peril of our sanity.”

Susan Glasser, The New Yorker: “There have been many times, over the past four years, that covering Trump’s Washington felt like a foreign assignment to me, never more so than while driving around the capital these past few days and seeing boarded-up storefronts and streets cordoned off for blocks around the White House, in anticipation of unprecedented post-election violence. I have seen such scenes before, in places like Azerbaijan and Russia. This is Trump’s America. It is not the America I have known.”

Steve Vladeck, University of Texas law professor: “For anyone complaining about the ‘late’ shift in totals toward Democrats in MI, PA, and WI, most of those votes actually came in *first.*” But Republican-controlled state legislatures refused to allow the counting of mail ballots as they arrived.

Nicholas Kristof, a Times Op-Ed columnist: “If Biden wins after this poisoning of the chalice, he will inherit a badly divided country after an election that many will deem illegitimate, and it will be harder to govern and more difficult for the United States to exert influence around the world.”

Morning Reads

  • Lives Lived: Three decades after becoming the first Black student body president at Penn State University, H. Jesse Arnelle helped start one of the first minority-owned corporate law firms in the United States. “It was an audacious plan,” Arnelle told The New Yorker in 1993. He died at 86.


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This chicken Marsala is easy to make thanks to a quick sauce of mushrooms and shallots. Serve it over some linguine or with roast potatoes.


The latest hit Netflix series is about chess. Set in the 1950s and ’60s, “The Queen’s Gambit” follows a prodigy from an orphanage as she becomes an elite player. Adapted from a 1983 novel, the series depicts a world that’s both glamorous and wrenching, as Beth — played by Anya Taylor-Joy — excels in a male-dominated sport while struggling with addiction.

“If you did it as a movie, it becomes a sports movie: ‘Is she going to beat the Russian guy?’” Scott Frank, the series co-creator, told The Times. “And that’s not what the book is about. For me, it’s about the pain and cost of being so gifted.”

The pangrams from yesterday’s Spelling Bee were archival, archrival and chivalric. Today’s puzzle is above — or you can play online if you have a Games subscription.

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Snowman’s neckwear (five letters).


Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. See you tomorrow. — David

P.S. The word “reshook” — about Election Day’s twists and turns — appeared for the first time in The Times yesterday, as noted by the Twitter bot @NYT_first_said.



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