An old question comes back: What if President Trump loses but won’t leave?
Still, Trump raised the old questions anew with his response Wednesday to a question from Brian Karem, self-described “loudmouth” senior White House reporter for Playboy and analyst for CNN: “Win, lose or draw in this election, will you commit here today for a peaceful transferral of power after the election?”
“We’re going to have to see what happens,” the president responded. “You know that. I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster.”
Very strongly? Yes. A disaster? Hardly.
“Get rid of the ballots,” Trump continued, “and you’ll have a very peaceful — there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There will be a continuation,” Trump said, continuing his answer to Karem.
Get rid of the ballots? There will be a “continuation?” Meaning he would keep on being president?
This time, Trump’s foe isn’t just liberals or antifa. It’s our trust in our electoral system.
Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany later clarified that, “The president will accept the results of a free and fair election,” but for the skeptics among us that only raised the question of who decides what’s “free” and “fair” and how.
It was somewhat comforting to hear Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah and other lawmakers chime in with assurances that there will be a peaceful and orderly transfer of power.
But considering how McConnell and Graham, among other Republicans, flipped easily on earlier vows to “honor the calendar” in denying even a hearing to President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, only to ignore that principle to rush a replacement for the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, well, you can’t blame us bystanders for wanting to see their promises in writing.
Neither party has a monopoly on such shenanigans, of course. But in this moment a startling new report in The Atlantic has caused unusual concern. It claims that the Trump campaign and some GOP allies are considering possible ways to dance around the Electoral College, should Biden beat Trump.
First, allege rampant fraud, the story says, then ask legislators in battleground states with a GOP majority to bypass the state’s popular vote and choose electors loyal to the party and current president.
A similar plan was considered to break the 2000 election deadlock in Florida, before the Supreme Court intervened. Trump was strikingly candid in citing a close election this year as a good reason to rush through appointment of his candidate to fill Ginsburg’s seat.
But, of course, there won’t be a need for such ploys if either side can get a big enough landslide to the polls. For now, Democrats are left with the same song by Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks that I suggested last year for their campaign against Trump: “How Can I Miss You When You Won’t Go Away?”
(E-mail Clarence Page at firstname.lastname@example.org.)(c) 2020 CLARENCE PAGE DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.