Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for September 26th, 2020

Voting, Nightmare Scenarios, and the 2020 Election

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Folks, this past week, for me at least, has been one of great dismay.

After the death of ground-breaking Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Republican Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY), didn’t even wait a full day before saying “her seat will be filled as soon as possible.” (This is my best paraphrase of the many things he did say.) As I said in my last blog, this is contrary to what McConnell did the last time a Justice — in that case, Antonin Scalia — passed away in an election year, as at that time he more or less filibustered the nomination of then-President Obama’s choice, Merrick Garland, for the Supreme Court.

But that wasn’t all that was so disheartening out of Washington, DC, this past week.

Nope. We also got a very oddly worded, meandering comment by President Donald Trump (a Republican, in case anyone has forgotten), saying that he felt the ballots are a “disaster” and that he shouldn’t have to worry about leaving. (This was in response to a question about the peaceful transfer of power, something that has been a hallmark of American democracy since its inception.)

Because of that, a good friend of mine discussed with me the following scenario, which comes straight out of the Constitution: Trump is apparently leaning hard on Article 2, which would in effect throw the election (if disputed) to the House of Representatives. Every state there gets one and only one vote. And there are more Republican-led states than not, so it’s quite possible that even with a landslide victory for Joe Biden (a Democrat), Trump could still conceivably stay in office.

My response to this, aside from incredulousness of course, was as following: “If there’s a landslide for Biden and his VP pick, Kamala Harris, there’s likely to be a Democratic Senate along with a Democratic House. Trump will be impeached in short order, for pulling something like that, and he’ll have bought himself a maximum of six to nine months. What’s the point of that?”

My friend assured me that to Trump, every day in office counts. It gives him and his family more chances to amass power (and, I suppose, wealth). And, of course, the Constitution doesn’t allow for any sitting President to be arrested on any charges, anywhere in the world…mostly because the rather naïve belief was that anyone terrible enough to be charged with anything would be impeached in short order, and then no longer out of reach of the legal system.

(Ah, the innocence of the Constitutional framers. They could not have conceived of the situation of 2020, nor the naked partisanship of the Republican Party as led by Trump and McConnell. They knew naked partisanship, mind; how not? But they didn’t necessarily understand that some people are just immoral, and will grasp power for its own ends just because. Or maybe they did, but figured there would be enough good people to oppose such a power grab in the Senate…but woe betide us, as there aren’t.)

The idea that my vote, your vote, your parents’ votes, your friends’ votes, and even your enemies’ votes won’t be likely to be fairly counted because counting the votes is not in the current President’s best interest bothers me greatly. It is undemocratic and unAmerican. And it also flies in the face of Trump’s followers, because most of them voted for him believing he would be a capable President and behave as Presidents do…that is, if they get voted out, they leave, peaceably, and let the next President take over.

Even though Trump did not win the popular vote last time, he did win in the Electoral College. This still reflects that, at that time, Trump was respecting conventional norms; his was a legal way through, and also an ethical way through. It wasn’t a preferred way through — most Presidents prefer to win the popular vote and the electoral college, if they can — but it was both legal and ethical. And he did win many votes, though not the most, as Hillary Clinton led by over three million votes overall.

In the situation I’ve described, where the election is not in doubt and Biden has won by swamping Donald Trump, but there are many legal challenges — so many, a slate of electors from each state cannot be chosen in a timely manner — we’d be thrown to Article 2 of the Constitution. And while that is completely legal, it is not ethical. Nor is it moral, to overturn the overwhelming will of the voters like that, which is why up until now it’s never been tried.

This year, it may be, though. And the prospect of it vexes me greatly.

The thing is, something tells me this is being thrown out as a red herring. It’s being thrown out to suppress the will of the voters. It’s being thrown out there to make people believe their vote doesn’t matter. That nothing they do will ever matter. And that there’s no way to overcome the Trump Machine/Republican Party as led by Trump/McConnell…even by voting them out.

My belief, therefore, is that we MUST vote. (I want everyone to vote, even if you still believe Trump is wonderful in every way and deserves a second term despite his obvious mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic in the United States.) We have to vote. We have to show what our will is, and trust that there are enough good people out there to overcome the bad ones — whomever or whatever they may be, and whomever and whatever they try to do — and do our civic duty despite all efforts to depress us and make us too despondent to do anything at all.

And if worse comes to worst, and Trump stays in due to using Article 2 of the Constitution to blatantly disrespect the will of the people, I’ll have to trust that somehow, some way, the ship will be righted. And that we will not slide further into autocracy, much less a straight-up dictatorship, with a second, undeserved in this scenario, presidency.

What do you think of my nightmare scenario? Tell me about it in the comments!