Thursday, August 27, 2020

What If Trump Loses The Election... And Decides To Fight The Result

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A person wearing Donald Trump mask | Source: Darren Halstead via Unsplash

In an interview in July 2020, Donald Trump, President of the United States, told an American TV host, Chris Wallace that he is “not a good loser,” when asked about the possibility of the November Presidential election results not being in his favour. “I am not going to just say yes. I’m not going to say no.”

Since he began his run for President in the 2016 elections, Trump has been extremely vocal about claiming rigged elections even after he won, and that Democrats have set out to make him lose through a variety of alleged means. Similarly in this election, he has continuously claimed that expansion of absentee and mail-in ballots will ‘corrupt’ the election. Even before the pandemic, as early as May 2019, there were concerns that Trump won’t allow for an easy transition of power, to the extent that Speaker Nancy Pelosi had to comment on them.

Trump’s photo in Coronavirus section of a Newspaper | Source: Charles Deluvio via Unsplash

It’s possible Trump has been escalating this rhetoric because his COVID-19 mismanagement among other things, has put him behind his rival Joe Biden in national polls. It is bad enough that a President is questioning the integrity of elections with little to no proof to back up his exaggerations, but this will almost definitely lead to the people of the country— whether his supporters or not— distrusting the elections as well.  

Despite the absentee and mail-in ballots being provided due to the coronavirus pandemic, to enable social distancing and to allow people to vote safely from home. Trump has often played down the coronavirus pandemic, and called Anthony Fauci, the National Institutes of Health expert on infectious diseases, an “alarmist” for raising issues pertaining to COVID-19.

The chances of an “electoral meltdown” are slim, but not impossible; the right (or wrong) mix of factors can lead to disaster. Lawrence Douglas, professor of law, jurisprudence and social thought, at Amherst College, Massachusetts. imagined a scenario where the difference between Trump and Biden rests on swing states and mail ballot results. Given the chance of a higher than usual number of mail-in ballots this year due to the pandemic, delays in counting votes are to be expected. Trump wouldn’t be slow to claim rigged elections and refuse to wait for all votes to be counted and right-wing media wouldn’t be slow to broadcast this everywhere.

In a closely fought election like this US Presidential election , the ‘Swing states’ (where both parties enjoy similar levels of popularity) will play a major role in the outcome. Three of the major swing states in America: Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania have Republican lawmakers but Democratic governors. Each state is required to submit electoral certificates declaring the election winner in their state. By the time all votes are counted, Republican legislatures and Democratic governors might end up submitting conflicting election results for the same state.

A similar stalemate had occurred in 1876. It led to a “disastrous” compromise and the 1887 Electoral Count Act, which, according to Professor Douglas, may prove deficient in preparing for an impasse like the one that currently looms in the realm of possibility.

If Trump were to challenge the result he might have a few options for his course of action. He could challenge the results in court, as happened in 2000 in the state of Florida. Or, Republicans in state legislatures might use the Constitution to override the decision of the popular vote.

According to speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democratic nominee Joe Biden, and some Trump campaign spokespeople believe that Trump will accept the results of the election but do not rule out the possibility of him putting up a fight.

For others, given what is known about Trump’s behaviour, it’s more or less anticipated that he, and his twitter, will be raging with a lot of accusations if he loses the election, especially if it happens by a close margin. The important questions related to what he chooses to do about it and who backs him up.

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October 23, 2020 3:57 PM

Male gaze, their female guardians and sports-wear

In Helen Cixous’ essay, ‘The Laugh of Medusa’, she urges women to redefine what their body means to them, not just physically but also socially, emotionally and politically. This could happen by re-writing about your body in a way you deem  fit, the expression you identify with and separating it from how your body has been written about by men. The expression could be how you view your body separate from the patriarchal lense.

It is no secret that a woman’s body is subject to critique. While clothing for men is just a tool to cover themselves as per the surrounding environment, clothing for women isa social and political narrative that dictates their life or as we affectionately call it ‘culturally appropriate’.

The clothing style could vary. It could be a woman covered head to toe in a Burqa, it could be a woman who decides to wear sports-wear in a park or it could be jeans and a top. Everything is critically evaluated by men and by women who work towards protecting the male gaze.

The male gaze is a heterosexual way of looking at female bodies that sexualises these bodies into an object. It is a gaze that runs on the self-affirmative notion that the bodies of women, and what they do with it, is directly linked to how they  appear in front of a man.

In a recent incident in Bangalore, India, popular Indian actress Samyuktha Hegde was abused and threatened by senior political leader of the congress party, Kavitha Reddy,  for wearing sports-wear, in Bangalore’s Agara Lake park. She was exercising with her friend.

Kavitha Reddy initially claimed she was in indecent attire and went onto morally police and then later abused the actress and her friend.  A supposedly progressive political leader gets uncomfortable by what women are wearing. It breaks into an argument and a fight where the politician is supported by five to six men. Later on, the police appear to be appeasing the politician instead of the women who were harassed. Although she did apologise, her apology came after her video went viral, and as a protection for her own political reputation.

To look at Samyuktha Hegde’s clothing as a threat is to view her clothing as an act of obscenity therefore bullying her identity and sense of agency and reducing her to sexual object, who, by putting her in public, apparently gives the men present a right to look at her? Nevermind that she was there to workout like everyone else, her actions were confused as to how men look at her. In the video posted by the actress, the politician is surrounded by men who are championing her on. The politician choses to side with the patriarchal figures in shaming these women. Asking to protect from the male gaze is a far stretch but punishing women for the male gaze is where we should draw a line.

What roles does Kavitha Reddy play? She is the guardian of the male gaze. We find her in our mothers, in our grandmothers, in aunties and sometimes our friends. She understands a woman’s body as an object that is there to be looked at by men. She gets angry at women for wearing certain kinds of clothing but she is not angry at men for looking. The agency in this case always belongs to men.

When Cixous asks women to re-define their identity, she urges us to strangle the moral police that comes alive in such instances. It is the moral police that shames women for wearing clothes that don’t flatter their bodies or clothes that do flatter them. She urges us to reflect upon the source of such vigilance. Do we shame other women because we believe in what we are saying or our identity is partially (or  wholly) shaped by the male gaze?

Whether we chose to wear a burqa, or a dress, or variations of the new type clothing produced everyday, the crux of the matter is that it should not worry anyone apart from the one wearing it. The identity of a woman, sexual or otherwise, has to be redefined to be separated from the men and their gaze. We have to draw a line otherwise people in power will continue to abuse their power and preserve patriarchy and male gaze.

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