Today
Sat 23 January 2021

CJ Werleman argues that, whatever the outcome of the Presidential Election, Donald Trump’s response to the vote will have concerning ramifications for the country

If the polls are right, President Donald Trump will lose the America election to his rival Joe Biden in a landslide. But, if they are out by as many points as they were in 2016, Trump will still lose heavily, with Biden expected to defeat the incumbent in this scenario with a 335-203 electoral college vote margin, according to FiveThirtyEight.

The only reason I can conceive that Biden won’t be sworn in as the next President on 20 January 2021 is if Trump succeeds in his aggressive efforts to block voters from the polls or prevent all ballots from being counted. He has forewarned his supporters in the crucial battleground state of Pennsylvania that “very bad things” are likely to happen and that there will be “bedlam in our country” after Tuesday.

Regardless of the actual result, it’s likely that Trump will declare himself the winner and mail-in ballots ‘rigged’ or ‘illegal’, before launching an all-out assault on polling stations in states such as Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, with the aim of taking the election out of the hands of the American people and handing it to Republican Party-friendly state legislatures and courts.

“If we win on Tuesday or – thank you very much, Supreme Court – shortly thereafter,” Trump said at a rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday, making no secret of his anti-democratic ploy to hand the decision to the conservative and Trump-stacked Supreme Court.

Unfortunately, the polls cannot account for Trump’s willingness to lie and steal. Less concerned about re-election and more concerned with running away from the law, he faces likely financial ruin from his hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of unpayable debts to foreign banks, and criminal investigations and charges stemming from allegations of bank and tax fraud. This is a man who entered the White House settling a $20 million lawsuit for defrauding those who paid towards his bogus Trump University scheme.

Certainly, there’s every chance that election day will turn out to be like every other election day – peaceful and orderly, albeit frustrated by long waiting lines. But there’s an equal or greater chance that tomorrow will turn out to be anything but, bearing in mind that Trump has tacitly encouraged armed protestors to intimidate voters at polling stations in Democratic Party strongholds.

“It could be anything, maybe violent, maybe not, started by anyone, or something planned and executed by any number of organisations, almost all of them on the right fringe, many adoring of Mr Trump,” writes Ron Suskind, the Pulitzer Prize-winning veteran investigative journalist. The options are vast and test the imagination. Activists could stage protests at a few of the more crowded polling places and draw those in long lines into conflict”.


Lame Duck Vengeance

On Saturday, a Biden campaign bus was “ambushed” and almost driven off a Texas highway by a convoy of Trump flag-waving trucks and SUV, while a peaceful “march to the polls” voting drive in North Carolina was doused in pepper spray by police.

In light of this, it seems likely that Tuesday will be an unprecedented day in American history. Right-wing militia groups and radicalised individuals have also scattered themselves across the country in anticipation of protests over the election results, according to the FBI.

“Fuelled by allegations of mail-in ballot fraud, shouted from the President’s Twitter feed and conservative media outlets, a new spate of racial justice protests in places like Philadelphia and paranoia over further Coronavirus restrictions, some militias have begun doomsday prepping for election day,” observes Politico.

The sale of guns to ordinary citizens has increased by 67% in 2020, while there has been a 55% rise in alcohol purchases, as well as an increase in the number of bulletproof vests bought. Households are also stockpiling emergency food and water provisions in the event of mass violence. The National Guard has established “regional response units” comprising military policemen that are ready to be deployed to help quell unrest.

The FBI is bracing for violence and social unrest in the coming days, weeks and months, with one official telling the New York Time: “We are all hands on deck for the foreseeable future… It’s going to be a significant law-enforcement challenge… it feels pretty terrifying.”

But if election day comes and goes without incident, Trump performs to the expectation of the best available polling data, and Biden wins, then Trump will still remain President for another 70 days – in which he can exact vengeance on voters and anyone else he feels has done him wrong.

“If he loses in November, he won’t just moan about election rigging; he’ll also lose all interest in providing more help to millions of Americans at the edge of penury and despair,” predicts Rajan Menon in The Nation. “Vindictiveness, not sympathy, will be his response, even to his base, for whom he clearly has a barely secret disdain”.

Both Trump and the Republican Party will have only one objective – to cripple the incoming Biden administration, taking away whatever chance it has of turning around the economy and pandemic, thus doing their best to block any bills or initiatives that might pull the American people out of the mire Trump’s policies and reckless mismanagement have put them in.

So, whatever happens on Tuesday, one thing is for sure – it marks the beginning of the most frightening two-and-a-half month period in American history since the Civil War.


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