Are your eyes as sore as mine? I’ve been rubbing them frequently over the last week wondering if all of this is really happening, or if I’m trapped in a nightmare right out of a John Grisham political thriller. Our constitutional foundation is being violently eroded with hardly a whimper from the public.
At what time in our 244-year-old history have we heard a president respond thusly when asked if we could expect a peaceful transfer of power if he loses in November? “We’re going to have to see what happens," President Trump said. "Get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very peaceful — there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There will be a continuation.”
The ballots the prez is talking about are those mail-ins you plan to use because the nation is in the grip of a pandemic and voting sites may be places of contagion. The “continuation” he casually mentions is that of his administration. That’s because he’s in a frenzy about polls showing Joe Biden with a clear lead and he’s desperately trying to suppress voting by casting a long shadow on the legitimacy of mail-in ballots.
During Tuesday’s presidential debate, the prez said he “can’t go along” with an election outcome derived from millions of mailed ballots, especially if received and counted after Election Day. “This is going to be a fraud like you’ve never seen.” This claim poses a wee bit of a problem for the GOP.
Attacks on mailed ballots might also dissuade Republicans from using them. That’s been an ongoing concern of the Republican National Committee, so here’s its hypocritical solution: Robo calls featuring the prez’s son’s partner, Kimberly Guilfoyle, and the prez’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, urging Republicans to use absentee ballots as one of the “best ways” to vote.
In doing so they draw a false comparison between absentee voting and other forms of mail-in voting. Moreover, Guilfoyle claims, “Democrats want to scare you away from voting absentee.”
She further asserts, “The radical left wants universal vote-by-mail, which is proven to be filled with fraud, abuse and mistakes.” Of course, this is blatantly false. There is no significant difference between the two voting options, but Republicans are desperate to have it both ways.
So where’s the Grisham plot point? Note how feverish Republicans are about appointing one of their own to the Supreme Court to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. That’s because the GOP fears Biden will win, especially if all mail-in ballots are counted. The party thinks the prez will do OK with in-person voting and may in fact be leading in some of the major swing states, like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, by late evening and before mail-ins are counted.
Their plan is for the prez to declare early victory in those states and cast further doubt on the validity of the remaining mail-ins. Don’t forget his claim in 2016 that he would have won the popular vote “if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” The Democrats would then rightly sue, and the case would conveniently end up in the Supreme Court. There the GOP would have secured a 5-4 majority with its latest appointment. Bingo, the prez wins! All that’s missing from the plot is a sinister master villain kneading his hands and triumphantly exclaiming, “Bwahahaaa!” Wait. Sorry. That’s Mitch McConnell’s role.
Leading Senate Republicans swore on their mother’s eyes that not giving President Obama’s 2016 Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, even a hearing was the right thing to do because a presidential election was eight months away and the people should decide who nominates a new Justice. However, this raw power grab has scandalously been over-shadowed by their present audacious claim that, despite the election being merely one month away, we need to confirm Amy Coney Barrett ASAP; the people be damned.
In fact, 57 percent of the people say the court nomination should be left to Nov. 3′s winner, according to last week’s Washington Post-ABC News poll. But hey, opinions only count if we live in a democratic republic, right?
The prez admitted to this tactic during the debate: “I’m counting on them (the Justices) to look at the ballots. …. I hope we don’t need them in terms of the election itself. But for the ballots, I think so.”
Dear readers, I don’t care if you wear an "R" or a "D" on the backs of your jerseys. The events of the last few weeks should be setting off alarms in your heads. With this president, we’ve come to normalize a lot of abnormal and even illegal behavior. But today we’ve reached a constitutional tipping point. We all must declare, “Enough” and refuse to crown a Donald the First.
Frank Batavick writes from Westminster. His column appears every other Friday. Email him at email@example.com.