President Distraction does not want us talking about his epic pandemic failure with the number of 200,000+ dead likely to rise dramatically by year’s end, our people suffering economically, with many depending on food banks, his woeful lack of accomplishments, and the fact that next week he will face “Sleepy Joe” in debate.
Meanwhile, Biden has shown himself to be so totally with it and knowledgeable about a vast range of topics that Trump has changed his accusation to Biden’s purported use of “performance enhancing drugs.”
Though Biden clearly doesn’t have a lock on the Presidency, it’s looking more like his lead is stable both nationwide and in a number of swing states, including some red ones.
So Trump continues to push his fraudulent charge that mail-in ballots are fraudulent, though he and family have used them for years—as have red states—with almost no evidence of fraud (not counting Trump’s encouraging his North Carolina supporters to vote twice—just to make sure!)
And don’t be fooled by this new alleged plot involving 7 Pennsylvania ballots: he and Barr manufactured a story from an incident that the Pennsylvania officials fully explained—no fraud there either.
Then an article in The Atlantic by Barton Gellman threw lots of people into a frenzy, and it fed well into Trump’s refusal to agree to a peaceful transition of power if he loses the election.
I’m hoping to bring a measure of calm to all this frenzy.
For starters, here’s the opening of a newsletter from the sensible lawyer friend whom I’ve quoted from time to time:
“The liberal media lost its mind on Wednesday. The hysteria traces to an article in The Atlantic with the thesis that Republican-controlled legislatures will ignore the popular vote results in their states and appoint Electors who will support the popular vote loser in the Electoral College. (‘Trump would ask state legislators to set aside the popular vote and exercise their power to choose a slate of electors directly.’)
“Sure, that could happen. That is effectively a coup d’état. So, if you want to assume that six Republican states will ignore state laws requiring that their Electors be awarded to the winner of the popular vote, go ahead. I have no response to arguments that breezily assume the end of 244 years of democracy just because Trump ‘asks state legislatures to set aside the popular vote.’”
My friend is justifiably harsh on Gellman for depicting nightmare scenarios of armed disrupters at the polls and then saying, “Of course, this is all speculation.”
While he acknowledges the likelihood that Trump will cheat and even the possibility that the election could be decided by the Supreme Court, he finds the idea of a coup hyperbolic nonsense.
His skepticism meshed well with a thread of tweets on Twitter (where else?) from a woman named Teri Kanefield (@Teri_Kanefield). Kanefield identifies herself as an author and lawyer (appellate defense lawyer) who does election law pro bono. I felt her responses were so reasonable and on point that I’m repeating them here.
As the thread was long and sometimes repetitious, I’ve taken the liberty of editing, while I hope remaining true to her intent.
Kanefield essentially focuses on three issues:
—Why Trump Wants This Story in the Headlines
—Why The Scenario Is Highly Unlikely to Occur
—Where the Dangers Lie and How We Can Address Them
Early on, she quotes the essential passage from The Atlantic article:
“The state legislatures will say, ‘All right, we’ve been given this constitutional power,’ a Trump campaign legal adviser explained to The Atlantic. ‘We don’t think the results of our own state are accurate, so here’s our slate of electors that we think properly reflect the results of our state.’
—Why Trump Wants This Story in the Headlines
“I’m pretty sure everyone knows Trump would cheat, lie, steal, and even let 200K people die if he thought it would help him win.
“There are several ways to respond to this story, but we have to begin by wondering why the ‘legal advisor’ wants us to have this information.
“First, remember that each state has rules that govern the certifying of their elections.
“Yes, laws still matter.
“The Trump legal advisor wants you to think they don’t.
“Why? Because when enough people lose confidence in democracy, democracy will fail. (emphases mine)
“Trump is trying his best to get you to lose confidence in [our] democratic processes.
“He is trying to make you think he can pull this off.
“New polls came out today showing that Trump is ten points behind nationally.
[Quinnipiac national likely voter poll: Biden 52%; Trump 42%]
“The Strongman needs you to think he’s strong. He doesn’t want you talking about the polls.
“If he was winning, he’d want you talking about the polls…
“He’s a genius at manipulating the media and controlling the conversation…
–Why the Scenario Is Highly Unlikely to Occur
“Beginning with the fact that state legislatures have nothing to do with certifying elections, this isn’t plausible.
“We’re looking at an election in which Trump loses the popular vote by upwards of 7 percentage points.
“…and multiple states give Biden the electoral college win.
“Also, from Harvard-educated lawyer @NastyOldWomyn: “In PA, the GOP controlled legislature can’t appoint its own electors without amending the PA electoral code, which Dem Gov Wolf would veto, & the GOP lacks sufficient votes to overcome his veto. Same in MI & WI.”
“The election would have to come down to a few states in which the elected officials were willing to go against the will of their voters and against their own laws.
“They’d have to break the laws (and defy their voters) for Trump.
“The courts would have to allow it.
“Another thing to remember: These states with GOP-held legislatures that the Trump advisor wants you to think will do whatever Trump wants are getting hit very hard right now from Covid.
“The Supreme Court along with multiple state legislatures would have to be willing to basically install a dictator.
“Let’s not pretend that we are at the mercy of Trump, or that we give two hoots about whether he will ‘respect’ the results of the election.”
—Where the Dangers Lie and How to Address Them
“When enough people believe the con, this amplifies and gives credence to the lies, which then creates a reality based on the lie, which helps bring about the very outcome you don’t want…
“This is not to say that very real things can’t go wrong. Polls showing a close race in Florida worry me. The fact that more than 45% of voters willingly choose Trump, despite everything we know worries me.
“The fact that so many people don’t vote worries me.
“Here’s the thing about democracy: If a majority of voters no longer want it, it will cease to exist. If a majority of voters don’t put in the work, it will cease to exist.
“In a close election, like 2000, where the election comes down to a few thousand votes, something like this might work.”
Here Kanefield responds to her anticipated critics:
“Dear those of you who are explaining why I’m wrong and that Trump can easily steal this election (and I’m naive to doubt it) let me ask you this: Suppose you succeed in persuading lots of people of this?
“What will you accomplish?
“Of course: Trump knows he can’t win by persuading people to vote for him, so he will try to create chaos.
“What you can do: Volunteer to work on the election.
“What Biden will do: Put together a top-notch legal team.”
So while I would vastly prefer that we not have all these uncertainties hanging over the election, I am comfortable with Kanefield’s thinking and this conclusion offered by my lawyer friend:
“But if six GOP controlled states decide that the popular vote winner will not be awarded their Electoral College votes, then those states have effectively seceded from the constitutional order.
“We can worry about that speculative and unlikely outcome if it ever comes to pass. In the meantime, we cannot be seduced by the wave of hysteria that has enveloped the liberal media. Just because Trump says something doesn’t mean it will occur. Remember, according to Trump, the coronavirus will ‘miraculously disappear.’
“So, here’s my advice: Buck-up! We can’t go to pieces every time someone comes up with a new disaster scenario over which you have no control. You can control what you do. Make that count.”
Here’s what you can do to make what you can control count:
Make sure you’re registered—asap. Most deadlines are in early October. Donate to the campaigns if you can. Make phone calls to get out the vote. If you’re willing and able, volunteer to work at the polls.
Check your state’s voting options and make a plan concerning how you’ll vote. Vote as early as you can. If you’re voting by mail, carefully follow the directions so your vote can’t be challenged. Don’t forget to sign your ballot! Use a drop box if one is available.
An interesting note: If Texas, which has little mail-in balloting, goes for Biden (and it is possible), Trump will have no way to win. The election will be called that evening.
If you’d like to work on a campaign but don’t know how, contact me via Contact on this blog and I’ll send you suggestions.
Knowledge is power! Action overcomes anxiety. Democracy is on the ballot. Get involved! VOTE!!
We need not only Biden for President, but a Democratic House and Senate to enact all the bills Mitch McConnell has been blocking and to counterbalance the Supreme Court, which is about to move even further to the right of mainstream America.
Now if we could only convince the media to stop obsessing about Trump and give some attention to what Biden and Harris are saying…
Continue reading “Worried About a Trump Coup? Take a Deep Breath: You Have More Power Than You Think”