Joseph Stiglitz | October 2, 2020 | Project Syndicate

As US President Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans’ behavior over the past four years has made abundantly clear, American democracy itself is on the line in this year’s election. Without an overwhelming victory for Democrats at all levels, Republican minority rule will be locked in indefinitely.

NEW YORK – Whereas Nero famously fiddled while Rome burned, US President Donald Trump has famously hit the links at his money-losing golf courses while California burns – and as more than 200,000 Americans have died of COVID-19 – for which he himself has now tested positive. Like Nero, Trump will undoubtedly be remembered as an exceptionally cruel, inhumane, and possibly mad political figure.

Until recently, most people around the world had been exposed to this American tragedy in small doses, through short clips of Trump spouting lies and nonsense on the evening news or social media. But in late September, tens of millions of people endured a 90-minute spectacle, billed as a presidential “debate,” in which Trump demonstrated unequivocally that he is not presidential – and why so many people question his mental health.

To be sure, over the past four years, the world has watched this pathological liar set new records – logging some 20,000 falsehoods or misleading statements as of mid-July, by the Washington Post’s count. What kind of debate can there be when one of the two candidates has no credibility, and is not even there to debate?

When asked about the recent New York Times exposé showing that he had paid just $750 in US federal income tax in 2016 and 2017 – and nothing for many years before that – Trump hesitated and then claimed without evidence that he had paid “millions.” He was clearly offering whatever answer he thought would move things along to a more comfortable topic, and there is no good reason why anyone should believe him.

Even more disturbing was his refusal to denounce white supremacists and violent extremist groups like the Proud Boys, whom he instructed to “stand back and stand by.” Combined with his refusal to commit to a peaceful transition of power and persistent efforts to delegitimize the voting process, Trump’s behavior in the run-up to the election has increasingly posed a direct threat to American democracy.

Originally published by Project Syndicate. Read the full article here