Dan O'Heirity

Matters in America Have Descended Into Absolute Farce

I was sitting in my garden this morning doing what I do every morning, drinking coffee and chain smoking when I came across this news headline from The Independent, “Rudy Giuliani has finally worked out Biden’s evil commie plot with Venezuela and he’s going to right the election“. I immediately thought that The Independent had published a satirical piece mocking Trump and his campaign for their conspiracy theorist claims that the election was stolen from them. However, as I read on I realised that the article was not a satirical piece. The article was grounded in facts about a press conference that Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani had given. Unfortunately I cannot embed the video from this story but you can watch it on The Independent website. You can also take a look at Giuliani’s entire press conference, complete with hair dye running down his face. Giuliani’s performance prompted Christopher Krebs, who headed up the US Government’s efforts to combat election disinformation until he was fired by Trump, to say that this was the most dangerous and the craziest one hour and forty five minutes of television in American history. Honestly, this is almost too bizarre to process.

The reporter for The Independent is a far better writer than I so I’m not going to summarize what she has to say. I will just pick our a few choice quotes from her article. First, Giuliani says in the opening moments of the video, “‘We use a Venezuelan voting machine to count our votes. If we let this happen, we’re gonna become Venezuelan‘”. What the heck? I’m thinking dementia or some other degenerative brain disease. At another point Giuliani says, “‘Lots of people voted who didn’t exist. There were numerous double voters, numerous out-of-state voters. Children voted. No, we don’t need to show any evidence of it. What are you, a socialist?‘”. The reporter concludes with her own opinion that, “I hate to speculate on election fraud but wouldn’t it be a little simpler just to… fudge the numbers? I’m not entirely convinced this is how China does it.” Priceless.

It would of course be an understatement of massive proportions to say that matters surrounding the presidential election in the United States are complicated. In this respect the next video from the 16th November makes two points. First Trump is launching multiple legal appeals against outcomes in a number of states across America. The legal process is, in itself complicated. For example, the legal challenge in Pennsylvania has to survive a motion to dismiss before it can move to trial.

The other point that the video makes, or at least tries to make, is that Trump is fully within his legal rights to make these challenges and that the American public, no matter the party that they support, should feel that due process is being followed. That’s where the argument falls down. I have written before that Trump is not necessarily trying to win these legal battles. He is trying to create doubt in his voters’ minds about the legitimacy of Biden’s win and in doing so he is actually undermining democratic processes by calling fraud at every turn.

Trying to follow the Trump campaign’s lawsuits is the stuff of nightmares. Happily ABC News has compiled an overview of just what is going on. As of yesterday, 19th November Trump’s campaign was focusing on election recounts and court challenges in Georgia, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan. I’ll give you a few details from the story so that you can get a flavour for what Trump is doing. In Georgia a hand recount of about 5 million votes was due to be completed by midnight on Wednesday (local time). Before the recount, Mr Biden led Mr Trump by a margin of about 14,000 votes. The result of the re-count has now come in and Biden is confirmed as the winner. Trump of course has claimed that the re-count process was a farce and not to be trusted. In Michigan, Trump’s campaign was trying to block the certification of election results in two counties for a whole host of different reasons. The results were certified but then in an astonishing turn of events two Republican officials spoke with Donald Trump and then declared that they wanted to rescind their certification of the results. Then Trumps’ lawyers withdrew their lawsuit in the state of Michigan where Trump had hoped to stop Wayne County from certifying its election results.

Unfortunately the complexity, or we might say the undermining of democracy in the United States is going to continue for quite some while. States have until December 8 to settle any ongoing disputes about the election result. Then, each state’s electors have a further six days to vote by paper ballot before Congress meets to count those electoral votes on January 6. Once a candidate has received 270 or more electoral votes, the President of the Senate will officially announce the result of the presidential election. The question has to therefore be whether Trump can actually “pull of” his attempted coup by subverting democratic processes in order to try to win the election by default. The good news is that according to The Guardian, the answer to that question is “No, not really”. First, Biden is projected to win far more than the 270 votes that he needs. Secondly, whilst states can in theory ignore the popular vote and appoint their own electors, there is no basis for them doing so. For example, there is no evidence of widespread electoral fraud. Next, and as already noted, Trump’s campaign is not winning with its lawsuits. Finally, should we see a worst case scenario with Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Nevada trying to overturn the popular vote then the Democratic governors of these states would over rule the attempt and uphold the popular vote.

First Published November 20th, 2020

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