If you are resting easy about the election result: don’t. If you don’t think Trump, McConnell and their party of rightwing extremists, who have already exerted every sinew in a bid to destroy the democratic process, won’t keep on doing this until the very last second, with every weapon at their disposal, no matter what damage it will cause — think again. This is the endgame: to use monstrous, baseless deceit, heavy political pressure, bribery, blackmail, chaos, cajolery and fear to force enough GOP-led states to shut down or delay the Electoral College process past its deadline.
Then the election would go to the House of Representatives, where each state has a single vote, controlled by the majority party of its delegation. Although the Republicans are a minority in the House in sheer numbers, the party controls more state delegations. In this scenario, a state like Wyoming, which has only one US House seat (held by Liz Cheney, Dick’s daughter), representing the state’s total population of 578,000, would have EQUAL weight in deciding the presidency as California’s delegation – with 52 members, representing 39.5 million people.
In this scenario, it won’t matter how many popular votes Biden won. (Right now his lead is more than 4 million.) It won’t even matter how many Electoral College votes he clearly won. If the GOP extremists can, by hook or crook, throw the election to the House of Representatives, they stand a very good chance of giving the presidency back to Trump.
There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever of the kind of vast and unprecedented open fraud that would’ve had to have taken place in broad daylight – in Republican-controlled states – for the election results to be called into question this way. And today McConnell was offering the ludicrous-on-its-face assertion that the very same ballots that elected Republican senators were somehow questionable when it comes to the presidential vote. That is: every ballot that went against Trump is questionable and possibly illegal; but that same ballot will still be valid if it also registered a vote for a Republican congressperson or senator. Only its vote for Biden would be discarded.
At the beginning of his term, Trump launched a much-ballyhooed national commission to look into the vast voter fraud he said occurred in 2016. Stocked with his own hand-picked sycophants, it had to disband in a matter of weeks because there was absolutely no evidence of this fraud. It is the same case now, in an election that had GOP observers in ballot-counting offices across the country. It’s almost shameful to have to make these arguments, but such is deep and ignorant credulity of millions that you have lay out the details of why down is not up, dry is not wet and day is not night.
The gambit might not work, but McConnell’s shameless intervention today shows that this their intention. For the moment, Rupert Murdoch, that monstrous arbiter of political fortunes throughout the Anglosphere (save New Zealand, which is spared his ghastly sleaze), has signalled that Biden (like Tony Blair) is a safe pair of hands and that Trump should accept defeat. But anyone who has lived in the degraded world that Murdoch has poisoned for generations knows this wretch can turn on a dime if he feels it’s to his benefit. Just as all the Murdoch “news” outlets suddenly shifted against Trump last week, they can shift back this week and turn their relentless propaganda machine to support the Trump-McConnell attempt to overthrow the election at the last moment.
I think they will purse the House route because I don’t think they will manage to get the election result decided by Trump’s appointees and allies on the Supreme Court. There would need to be at least the slimmest modicum of evidence even for partisan courts to move his preposterous claims to the SCOTUS. And since the election, the lower courts have been throwing out Trump’s empty cases at every turn – because, again, there is no evidence of any kind of vast, systematic fraud anywhere in the US that could overturn the results.
(This leaves aside the fact that courts are not SUPPOSED to decide elections like this. The bland assertion of “let the courts sort it out” that we see offered everywhere these days is already a perversion of the ordinary political process. There is only one case of this in US history, and that was the sinister and absurd ruling in 2000 – by a majority with two judges who had family members (wife, son) working for the Bush campaign – that the recount in Florida had to stop because it might “injure the interests” of plaintiff George Bush; that is, literally, that his “interests” would be injured if the recount showed that he lost the state and the national election. But even this was a case of intervening to stop a recount; not ruling on charges of massive fraud for which there is no evidence.)
At the moment, I believe this plan will fail. Maybe it’s not evn a serious plan; maybe it’s just Trump trying to extort an agreement: “give me a sweet deal — blanket pardon, debt relief, etc. — and I’ll go; if not, I’ll take a flamethrower to the place.” Maybe. But there is absolutely no guarantee of that. We have seen how far the Trump and the GOP extremists have been willing to go. They tried to destroy the popular vote process in the most flagrant way possible, hoping to game the Electoral College to a victory that the American people would never give them. They failed with the popular vote; they even failed with the Electoral College. Now they are going to try to blow that up as well, and see if they can throw it into the House and have one last throw of the dice with Liz Cheney and the other willing executioners of democracy.