Donald Trump has violated every bedrock principle of American democracy that he can.

He worked with the Russians to smear his 2016 opponent and win the narrowest of election victories, and then obstructed justice into the investigation of those transgressions. He attempted to force another foreign power to interfere in our elections by threatening to withhold military aid from Ukraine (aid that nation desperately needed in order to fend off increasing encroachments from neighboring Russia) unless its president promised to fabricate dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden. This gambit led to Trump’s impeachment by the House of Representatives, but clearly didn’t teach him a lesson, because he is still indicating his willingness to accept foreign assistance in this November’s race too.

Trump has repeatedly called the free press “THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE,” and deems any press coverage that paints him in an unflattering light (regardless of just how true the story is) “Fake News.”

He demands loyalty from public servants who are supposed to be independent and represent the interests of the American people, and then fires them when they refuse to do his bidding or attempts to fire them when they have the audacity to investigate him for his crimes. And he sure does surround himself with criminals. Recently, Steve Bannon became his third campaign manager to be arrested.

Trump grossly misuses his pardon power in order to return favors to corrupt political cronies, including those whose crimes were in committed in service of protecting him.

He has hidden his tax returns, as well as the records of his conversations with one of America’s greatest foes, Vladimir Putin. He chooses to believe this murderous tyrant over our own intelligence agencies and even refuses to question him after news breaks that Russia had paid the Taliban to kill American troops overseas. 

He cozies up to various other foreign dictators and praises their actions, whether it be seizing power indefinitely in China or using death squads against suspected drug dealers in the Philippines. So it’s no surprise when Trump himself takes a page or two from their authoritarian playbook, from tear gassing peaceful protestors in Washington to whisking demonstrators in Portland away in unmarked vans. 

Now, when he is at risk of losing his power, he wages war against one of America’s oldest, most trusted institutions, the U.S. Post Office, attempting to stop his fellow citizens from being able to vote safely by mail in the middle of a deadly pandemic because he knows he cannot win a free and fair election. 

American democracy has managed to hang on by a thread during the first term of this authoritarian president, but it may not make it through another. That’s why we need Joe Biden to restore democracy, decency, and trust in our government. In elections past, people have often said “this is the most important election of our lifetime.” But never before has it been more true.