Reading Tea Leaves

Author: Mumtaz Khan

There are indications that the world is moving in a different direction; away from strong democratic institutions to autocratic or semi-dictatorships.  Aside from the usual kingdoms and authoritarian governments in the Arab world, just in the last few years, Rodrigo Duterte, a tyrannical leader, got elected as president of Philippines. Donald Trump got elected president of the US. Brazil elected its own Donald Trump clone.  India, supposedly the biggest democracy in the world, reelected Narendra Modi, and Israel remains under the iron fist rule of Netanyahu. Why the autocratic trends gaining momentum around the world? Is there something fundamentally wrong with democratic principles?


Yes, the backbone of democracy; the unscrupulous elected representatives who have lost the trust and confidence of their constituents. For instance, in the US, on the day a congressman or a senator takes oath of office – an oath of service to the nation, all of his/her attention gets focused on the re-election campaign. He/she starts raising money for the next election. They start approaching the big donors to win their favors, and when they get to the law-making chambers, they serve the interests of the big donors; not of their constituents. In the chambers, they get engaged in endless partisan debates and speeches without enacting laws that would benefit the general public. If you recall the June 2016 Republican primaries, there were 16 Republican candidates on the stage, and candidate Donald Trump humiliated each one of them on the stage for having begged money from him at one point or another. No one dared denying his allegations except one, the candidate Ben Carson. The Democrats are no different stock. Some current democratic senators and congressmen also owe it to big donors, including businessman Donald Trump. They all have lost the moral authority. Voters observe this behavior years after years, get frustrated, feel betrayed, lose faith in the system, and turn to an autocratic leader who shows the guts enough to be able to deliver on his promises.  As a result of general distrust in the elected representatives, most would choose to vote on the party line, not necessarily for a candidate himself. Some of those who would vote for Joe Biden would do so just to deny a vote for Donald Trump. Similarly, some of those who would vote for Donald Trump would not do so for the love of him but to deny Democrats a shot at the White House.


Whether you like Donald Trump or hate him, as a president he has taken some unprecedented steps that may attract attention of some independent voters.


  • He has countered the media’s monopoly on manufacturing truths. Hence, he has put the media on defense
  • He has openly fought the intelligent agencies without losing a bout
  • He has portrayed Democratic leaders as petty partisan troublemakers
  • He has portrayed the Congress as an ineffective body of legislatures
  • He has made himself known as a strong president who would do anything, moral or immoral; right or wrong; true or false; legal or illegal to stay on his agenda


Constitutionally, the next US general election must occur on Tuesday, November 3, 2020.

Not counting the current month of April, there are full six months before the next general election. There are about as many probabilities what may happen in the next six months. i.e.


  1. Election is held as usual, Donald Trump gets reelected, stays on as president
  2. Because of the current health crisis and ensuing social turmoil; citing national emergency, Republicans may propose holding election on a later date, and Donald Trump stays on as president
  3. Hybrid election is held, i.e. in roughly half of the total states, people willingly and actively go to polls in person. In the other half, people prefer vote by mail. Donald Trump gets 270+ electoral votes, and he stays on as president
  4. Hybrid election is held, i.e. in roughly half of the total states, people willingly and actively go to polls in person. In the other half, people vote by mail. Donald Trump fails to get 270 electoral votes ; he claims voting irregularities, refuses to accept the results, constitutional crisis occurs, but with the Republican majority in the senate, he stays on as president
  5. Election is held as usual, Donald Trump fails to receive 270 electoral votes, he cites voter fraud instances, and refuses to concede. With the Republican majority in the senate, he stays on as president until whenever


Note: I wish, on November 4, 2020, I would be ridiculed for reading the leaves wrong.

Mumtaz Khan

ممتاز خان، امریکہ میں عرصہ سے مقیم ہیں۔ آئی بی ایم کی نوکری کے بعد سے ۲۰۰۴ سے رٹائر زندگی گزاررہے ہیں

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