By Larry Schweiger
Pittsburgh Current Columnist
President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris won fair-and-square. The state-by-state vote of the Electoral College has formally cast an overwhelming majority of votes for them. The Electoral College votes went ahead despite many credible death threats on patriotic electors by Trumpsters in several swing states that went for Biden/Harris.
Biden has now won 306 Electoral College votes while Trump won 232 votes. Since a minimum of 270 electoral votes is needed to win, American voters and now the Electoral College voted to stop an assault by a dangerous tyrant. When Trump lost the popular vote in 2016 by nearly 3 million ballots, he claimed he won in a landslide. Now when he lost the popular vote by more than 7 million, Trump refuses to acknowledge the obvious. While 74 million Americans voted for Trump, fortunately, 81 million Americans voted for Biden.
Trump will be remembered as the worst president in history. Never before has a sitting President and his allies tried to overthrow free and fair elections by filing at least 56 baseless legal cases that would affect his electoral standing. In a pernicious effort to slow the transition, Trump turned his fundraising apparatus to raise money theoretically to fund the legal fight. In a closer reading of the fine print, the money will support a personal political action committee with few limitations. Trump has now raised more than 207 million dollars post-election, not for a presidential library but to theoretically fight an election’s legitimate outcome. He has clearly mastered the art of the scam since the federal-court-approved $25 million settlement with students duped by his defunct Trump University.
All but one nonconsequential court case in Pennsylvania have been lost, denied, dismissed, settled, or withdrawn. The final blow came when the United States Supreme Court rejected Texas’s seditious suit to overturn the election by disenfranchising 81 million voters. The U.S. Supreme Court, with six Republican Justices including three Trump-appointed justices, rejected the crazy claims of the Texas Attorney General (who may be shopping for a pardon) and an amicus brief by other Republican states AG’s and most Republican lawmakers in Congress. Alito and Thomas felt the SCOTUS must hear every dispute between states but would not grant any relief, meaning no injunction. The Court unanimously rejected the effort to block targeted states including Pennsylvania from casting their rightful electoral college votes.
The SCOTUS decision came in a one-page order declaring that Texas had no standing denying Senator Ted Cruz an opportunity to showboat before the United States Supreme Court as he has so often done on the floor of the Senate. Disgracefully, nineteen Republican Attorney Generals and 127 Republican Congress members, including most of the Pennsylvania Republican Congressional Delegation, joined this blatant assault on democracy targeting urban voters. Joy Reid summed it this way, “Let’s be clear: this isn’t about fraud. These Republicans are simply saying, in effect, they do not and will not accept that black voters should be allowed to cast votes, however legal those votes may be, to overrule the desires of a majority of white voters.” Speaker Pelosi issued a statement warning: “Republican Members that signed onto this lawsuit brought dishonor to the House. Instead of upholding their oath to support and defend the Constitution, they chose to subvert the Constitution and undermine public trust in our sacred democratic institutions. The pandemic is raging with nearly 300,000 having died and tens of millions having lost jobs. Strong, unified action is needed to crush the virus, and Republicans must once-and-for-all end their election subversion – immediately.”
No amount of whining from Trump and his sycophantic and incompetent attorneys who filed scores of frivolous lawsuits can change the outcome. Congressman Adam Schiff summed it up this way in a tweet, “Let’s make this clear: Donald Trump lost. By a lot. And in defeat, Trump could care less about a worsening pandemic and stalling economy. His efforts to steal the election are a national embarrassment.
Since the election, Trump has continued to ignore the exploding pandemic and the failing economy, while the challenge of controlling the pandemic is increasing by the hour. Yet, Trump ignores it. Instead, he goes golfing while running a money-generating grievance campaign. He is not pushing Congress to pass a desperately needed relief package for the many who are out of work and going hungry. Trump should forcefully call on Republicans in the Senate to provide relief, but he is not acting.
The last stop on the Biden/Harris election will involve Mike Pence as President of the Senate, who presides over a joint session of the House and Senate. Congressional proceedings to certify the Electoral College votes on January 6th. In what is usually a perfunctory move, Congress must receive and certify the Electoral College votes. There is a move afoot by radical Republican Congress members to nullify the popular elections and electoral college and overturn the outcome to keep Trump in power.
A faction of Republicans in Congress has become a dangerous force attempting to undermine American democracy by advancing an effort to reject the people’s will. Under the Constitution and the Electoral Count Act of 1887, Congress can challenge the Electoral College vote. A senator must submit the challenge in writing with the Senator’s signature affixed. Likely candidates for a frivolous challenge include Senators Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Ted Cruz of Texas, and Rand Paul of Kentucky.
If challenged, each House must separately vote to accept or reject the outcome of the Electoral College. Some just never thought America would be in this perilous situation, but here we are. If it comes to that, the vote in the House will support the Electoral College outcome, but the Senate may be another matter. Republican Senators failed to uphold their responsibility to check on abuse of power by the Executive Branch. The Constitutional mechanism to remove a president through impeachment was highjacked by a complicit Republican Senate majority that failed to even call witnesses before rejecting the compelling case presented by the House. Will they do the same in the recent election result? Several Senate Republicans including Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Mitt Romney of Utah rejected the idea of overturning the results. Since Mitch McConnell has now acknowledged the Biden/Harris victory, this effort should fail. Every Republican lawmaker who still values democracy must repudiate the radicals who have taken over their party and support the results of the electoral college.
We are witnessing widening cracks in our system of government. Trump has had his full run of the legal process. Beyond that, he has been trying to overthrow democratic elections by whipping up MAGA supporters who are pressuring elected Republicans. Trump’s false claims are already sowing seeds for more voter suppression in key states. Even his most loyal defender Attorney General Barr was driven from office after a brief moment of honesty concluding there was no widespread fraud. Trump continues to claim that he won the election despite his failed legal bids to challenge what the Election Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council said was “the most secure election in American history.”
Benjamin L. Ginsberg is a longstanding Republican lawyer and former co-chair of the bipartisan 2013 Presidential Commission on Election Administration. Ginsberg warned in an opinion piece in the Washington Post, “The country was lucky that President Trump and his reelection campaign were so inept. He ultimately lost by a wide margin, and his challenges to the results have been farcical. His rhetoric ramped up inversely proportional to his ability to produce evidence supporting his charges of systemic “fraud” or “rigged” elections. The shenanigans during the recent elections are a clear warning that our electoral system is deeply flawed and requires a serious response. Ginsberg recommends the formation of an election commission to address weaknesses in election laws that Trump exploited.
Communist leader Nikita Khrushchev wrote in 1956, “We will take America without firing a shot. We do not have to invade the U.S. We will destroy you from within….” Khrushchev’s words may be prescient as Putin’s operatives used social media and the hacking of emails to put Trump-the divider in chief-in power in 2016. For the past four years, Trump has been driving wedges into every crack in America and among our democratic allies while pandering to Putin who placed a bounty on U.S. soldiers. Lincoln warned in a speech, “A house divided against itself, cannot stand.” The party of Lincoln may no longer exist as it is morphing into a profoundly divisive Cult of Trump.
Meanwhile, we must count the days in a countdown with a mentally unstable lame-duck narcist with a grievance. A question that is growing larger by the day, will America’s democracy survive when more than 70 percent of Republicans believe whatever they want to think about the election’s integrity? How can we move forward if truth, verifiable facts, science, and the rule of law are no longer respected?