It is unlikely that we will know the outcome of the election on November 3 because it will take time to count the all mail in ballots. Depending on how close the votes are on election day, we might know the outcome by midnight or, more likely, it could be days or even weeks before the final numbers get sorted out.
We do know that Biden will likely take the popular vote, possibly by a landslide. However, because polls show that both Pennsylvania and Florida are still very close, Trump could eek out a slim electoral college victory like he did in 2016. This year he is likely to be ahead on the votes that are cast on election day in several key battleground states but behind when the mail in ballots are counted since Democrats dominate the mail in voting.
I believe Trump will lose the electoral college vote once all the ballots are counted. But even if he does lose, there remains a good chance he will refuse to step down, claiming the mail in ballots should not be counted because they are mostly fraudulent and that the election was rigged. How many times has he already told us that?
Trump’s refusal to concede, if backed by McConnell and most Republican elected officials, could lead to a constitutional crisis ending up (perhaps) in the Supreme Court where there is now a 6-3 Republican majority or in the House of Representatives where each state delegation gets one vote. Republicans control more state delegations in the House than do the Democrats although the number of Democratic representatives is much higher. Deciding the outcome by the Supreme Court or the House of Representatives would likely mean a Trump victory. We could end up with four more years of Trump, elected (again) by a minority of voting Americans.
The United States of America is staring at a potential crisis of monumental proportions. There is no playbook as to what would happen next or how this would play out.
A third scenario is that Trump clearly loses, and that Biden is declared the winner. However, Trump still refuses to concede. McConnell and company stay on the sidelines, maintain their silence, and keep their “social distance.” Trump’s base is outraged, protesting that the election was rigged, some calling for armed resistance. Under this scenario there have been repeated warnings by Homeland Security and organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center, that militias and vigilante groups may try to “take their country back” through armed conflict, putting us on the verge of a civil war. There is no playbook for this either. The threat of right wing, domestic terrorism is listed by the Department of Homeland Security as far greater than any threats from foreign adversaries. Trump may be gone, but Trumpism will live on. How will we deal with this?
There is also a fourth scenario: that Biden wins by a wide enough margin both in the popular vote and the electoral college that the Republican establishment is not able to come to his aid or keep silent. They begrudgingly accept the outcome. Biden is declared the winner, and Trump fades into woodwork whimpering and complaining, losing interest in his job, and making plans for another reality tv show. His base is devastated, but except for a few extremists, reluctantly agrees to give Biden a chance. The nation, while still divided, slowly tries to come together under a Biden conciliatory presidency.
America dodges the bullet.
Which of these four scenarios do you think is most likely? What steps can be taken to deal with the outcomes of each of the four possibilities? Can you think of additional scenarios that might happen? This is your chance to weigh in on the blog. How do we get ourselves out of this mess?
One of the things that I still have a hard time figuring out is why Trump’s base is so passionate in their fierce devotion to this deeply flawed man? What is going on? Surely 40 percent of our country are not “evil people.” What are they thinking? What are their values—especially the Christian evangelicals? How can they compare Trump favorably with Jesus Christ?
While I do not have the answer, what I do believe is that Trump is more a symptom than a cause. The anger and loyalty of his base are due in part to a malaise that has been growing during the period of rapid change brought about by globalism, technology and now the pandemic, with huge job losses and uncertainty. Many secure jobs with living wages have disappeared. The country is becoming more diverse ethnically and racially. Winners and losers have emerged. Part of the motivation of the base, I believe, is to try to hold on to what they have, fearing that social and economic change will further threaten their already tenuous position in the world. Many resent the “coastal elites” and those who have college degrees and feel dissed by people who seem to have it easy and who they believe look down their noses on them. I would admit that I—at least somewhat— am guilty as charged. We who have been dealt a stronger hand have to do our part to try to bridge the culture gap and reach out to those with whom we do not agree politically but with whom we may be able to find some common ground. We all share a common humanity.
Even if Biden wins, the issues that allowed Trump to become president will still be around. It will be a slog. Biden and the Dems will need all the help they (we) can get.
At this point, five days away from the election, I remain hopeful. Joe Biden is a good choice to lead our country and to try to bring us together. He has a working class background and a reputation for reaching out across the aisle. He is known for his empathy and for his humility. He is committed to addressing aggressively the issues of inequality, black lives matter, health care, the pandemic, and climate change.
Maybe, just maybe, there is a thread of hope.
God help us if he loses.
This is a time of reckoning for the United States of America.