The Election Delay Meltdown

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5 mins read

Living on the West Coast means that by the time I wake up, things have already gotten going across the nation. This morning, I checked my Twitter feed and discovered that Twitter was in meltdown mode because Trump tweeted this:

The tweet contained an absurd distinction between “universal mail-in” and “absentee voting,” but of course, what people focused on was the “delay” part. One of my followers said:

Trump can’t delay the election. (While states conduct, monitor, and certify their own elections, states cannot change the date of their presidential election.)

Under the Constitution, only Congress can set the date of the presidential election, so if the date of a presidential election is postponed, Democrats have to agree.

Someone will ask: “What if he manages it?”

Also, under the Constitution, Trump and Pence’s terms end at noon on January 20, 2021. If no election has been held by that point, the Speaker of the House assumes the powers of the presidency under the Presidential Succession Act. 

U.C. Davis Law Professor Carlton Larson says there’s a colorable argument that the designation of Speaker of the House outlasts any particular House. At any rate, that depends on the House rules, which can be changed at any time by the House.

Each state manages (and certifies) its own election. States that do hold elections will be able to send their Representatives to Congress. That means states that don’t hold elections will not be represented in Congress. That’s a pretty good incentive to hold elections, right?

California has mail-in ballots, which means that Pelosi will be reelected, which means she’ll be in the house and able to step in as president if January 20, 2021 rolls around and no new president has been elected.

No presidential election? Say Hello President Pelosi.

Now step back and consider what is happening. This morning, this news broke:

Trump doesn’t want us talking about that, so he invents a new crisis with the intention of sending everyone into a panic. It works. Every single time. Predictably, people go into a panic spin. Trump pushes people’s buttons and they respond.

I knew someone would say “Trump and the GOP don’t care about the law. So I checked the comments people were sending my way, and sure enough, I found this:

It’s the Strongman Con. The logic of the con works like this:

  • Trump is forever and constantly breaking the law
  • There is nothing he won’t do or try
  • Therefore, he’ll succeed.

People helping to push the Strongman Con overlook Trump’s constant failures. Look how often he fails. Candidates he endorses lose. Operation Ukraine Shakedown failed. His wall fell down. For goodness sakes, even his wall fell down.

The GOP lost the midterms and most elections since. If Trump were the all-powerful Constitution-defying strongman, why do we have a Democratic House?

Trump knows this makes him look like an incompetent failure:

He doesn’t want you to have a chance to realize he failed at something, so the moment he fails, he creates a new crisis, preferably one that has everyone trembling and quaking with fear that he is going to make himself an all-powerful dictator.

I’m not quite sure what it means to “delegitimize” the election.

Sure, Trump will try. It only works if enough people give it credence. We laugh and plan Biden’s inauguration. Let him claim to be the president after Biden is sworn in.

The only way ‘delegitimizing’ the election does anything at all would be if the military backs him up and keeps him in power, and the military won’t.

The way the election works is that the secretary of state in each of the states certifies their own elections. Once one of the candidates reaches 270 electoral votes, we have a new president.

When the left has a collective panic-induced meltdown, it helps with Trump’s “I am an invincible strongman” con. The reality is that he’s a doddering fool barely hanging on. His health seems to be deteriorating. I think there’s a greater chance Trump will be a puddle by January, not an unstoppable dictator.

Yes. Taking him seriously legitimizes his attempts to delegitimize the election.


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Teri has written novels, short stories, nonfiction for both young readers and adults, and lots of legal briefs. She is currently working on a book on disinformation to be published by Macmillan Publishers. Her political commentary has appeared on the NBC Think Blog and CNN.com. Her articles and essays have appeared in publications as diverse as Education Week, Slate Magazine, and Scope Magazine. Her short fiction has appeared in the American Literary View, The Iowa Review, and others. For twelve years she maintained a private appellate law practice limited to representing indigents on appeal from adverse rulings. She believes with the ACLU that when the rights of society's most vulnerable members are denied, everybody's rights are imperiled. She also believe with John Updike that the purpose of literature is to expand our sympathies. Teri lives with her family on the beautiful central coast in California.

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