After a night of heartbreak when it looked as if Donald Trump would re-validate the office of President of the United States, the count of the mail ballots has turned the tables in several key states and placed Joe Biden one step away from the White House. However, the results are expected to be very close and it will be a few days before the final verdict is known. Trump originally led in both Wisconsin and Michigan, before being overtaken by Biden. This means that if the Democratic candidate wins in all the states where he is now ahead he will be president.
But it is precisely this scenario, that of an election night in which Trump triumphs only to be later rebutted by the mail vote, which has been massive, that has long been prepared by Republican strategists to cast a shadow of doubt over the election results. In fact, the current president has been sending out the message for months that if he finally loses by mail vote, it will be because there has been fraud. And he has done so without any concrete evidence. This is completely irresponsible, because the postal vote, especially in the context of a pandemic, is a right and must be counted just like the others.
In reality, as he has done throughout his term of office, Trump is the pulling at the seams of one of the world's most consolidated democracies with an election, that of president, which has taken place without interruption since George Washington took office in 1789. But Trump does not care about this because it is in his interest to maintain power, even if it is at the cost of eroding the prestige of institutions and provoking civil conflict. The threat to challenge the results is very dangerous because it means delegitimising the winner and the democracy itself.
The next few days and weeks will be a key test for American democracy, which must be able to stop Trump and assert the people's vote. The final decision will surely be the Supreme Court's, as it was in 2000, but this time in a much more difficult and polarised context. The images of people covering the windows with wooden planks in anticipation of riots are a good example of the environment of tension that exists.
By now it can be said that Joe Biden will have been the presidential candidate who received the most votes in history, nearly 70 million, but Trump will not have been far behind, which shows that the United States is now a society split in two. The map that remains is that of a brutal opposition between the urban and rural world, between the coast and the interior. The work that Biden will have, if his victory is finally confirmed, to rebuild American society will be enormous: he will be facing a monolithic bloc, the coalition of sectors that have supported Trump and are not willing to compromise.
But the first and most urgent mission is to recover the prestige of democracy and its fundamental value, which is that the vote of every citizen is worth the same and deserves to be reckoned with and recognised.