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A nightmare on Pennsylvania Avenue: Trump could retain the White House

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(Image by Dan Jensen)

Like Freddy Krueger, the serial killer in A Nightmare on Elm Street, Donald Trump could still return to haunt us.

It all depends on the Electoral College, a system unique to the U.S.

The Electoral College was created by the framers of the U.S. Constitution as an alternative to electing the president by popular vote or by Congress. Several weeks after the general election, electors from each state meet in their state capitals and cast their official vote for president and vice president. Members will meet on 14 December to certify each state's election results. These results will be transmitted to Congress on 23 December. Normally, the electors are selected on the basis of the popular vote, but ever since Trump took over the Republican Party, nothing is normal.

Avid Trump supporter Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida is presently urging the Trump base in battleground states to push their Republican legislatures to ignore popular-vote results.  CNN’s White House correspondent Jim Acosta reports that Trump and his aides are also talking about electors “going rogue”.

Mark Levin, a popular Right-wing talk radio host and self-styled constitutional scholar, has fired off an all-caps tweet reminding Republican state legislators that the U.S. Constitution gives them the ‘final say’ to appoint electors:

States with Republican legislatures that could override the popular vote include Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

But could the “rogue electors” actually get away with defying the will of the people?

An article in Forbes has the title:

‘Trump allies suggest Electoral College could overturn a Biden win. Here’s why that (probably) wouldn’t work.’

Probably wouldn't work?

The argument goes like this, according to Erin Chlopak, director of campaign finance strategy at the Campaign Legal Centre:

‘Americans should rest assured that a state legislature’s post-Election Day substitution of its own preferences would violate federal law.’

Forbes argues that:

‘Aside from all of the legal hurdles, disregarding the election’s outcome would likely be politically disastrous for any state lawmakers who did so: In September, Republican legislators in Pennsylvania – a battleground state that could end up deciding the election – categorically rejected the idea of overruling the popular vote.’

Perhaps, but if it comes to a question of the violation of federal law, all those judges Trump has appointed over the years (including the Supreme Court) could uphold the decisions of the rogue electors.

Why is Trump fighting so hard to deny the reality of losing the Election anyway? His niece, psychologist Mary Trump, knows the answer. She analysed Donald Trump in her book, ‘Too much and never enough: How my family created the world’s most dangerous man’.

His niece, who has a doctoral degree in clinical psychology, writes of Mr Trump:

‘This is far beyond garden-variety narcissism. Donald is not simply weak, his ego is a fragile thing that must be bolstered every moment because he knows deep down that he is nothing of what he claims to be.’

Mary Trump says that her uncle Donald has never before suffered a loss from which he couldn't escape. His many business failures were covered by wealthy friends, including Russian oligarchs. This time, however, no amount of money will help.

The fact is that Donald Trump lost the Presidential Election.

Trump spent the week after the Election festering, golfing and indulging in his other favourite pastime — firing people.

One of those he fired was Mark Esper, Secretary of Defence. Trump has been angry with Esper for being disloyal in general and, in particular, for not following Trump's wishes to call out the troops during Black Lives Matter demonstrations.

The firing of Esper has alarmed senior defence officials, including the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley.

General Milley felt it necessary to make an unprecedented public statement while standing beside the newly installed acting Defense Secretary, Christopher Miller, at the opening of the U.S. Army's museum:

We are unique among militaries. We do not take an oath to a king or queen, a tyrant or dictator. We do not take an oath to an individual. No, we do not take an oath to a country, a tribe, or religion. We take an oath to the Constitution, and every soldier that is represented in this museum, every sailor, airman, marine, coast guard, each of us will protect and defend that document regardless of personal price.

In other words, we will support the Constitution over the President. At least there are still some adults in the room.

And still, the Republicans are continuing to act as Trump's enablers, denying the legitimacy of the Election and blocking Biden's transition. In part, this may be a tactic to keep the base fired up for the upcoming runoffs in Georgia which will decide whether the Democrats or Republicans control the Senate. Whether or not the Republicans can flip the Electoral College remains to be seen. Meanwhile, the nightmare on Pennsylvania Avenue continues.

Could the “mentally damaged” Trump mobilise his assault rifle-carrying base or, even worse, punch the nuclear button? In Mary Trump's words, Trump is ‘the world’s most dangerous man’. That world is holding its breath until 20 January 2021, when Joe Biden becomes the President of the United States.

Dr Norm Sanders is a former commercial pilot, flight Instructor, university professor, Tasmanian State MP and Federal Senator.

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