The 2020 presidential election
Is survival of the federal government at stake?
Dr. David L. Horne ow contributor | 10/29/2020, midnight
This 2020 United States presidential election officially scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 3, has actually already started. More than 15 million votes have already been cast, since the current laws allow early voting to start in the states anywhere within 34 days of the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November. And it is the states that control elections, in spite of the federal statues that mandate a federal election for the president/vice president, and members of Congress, must occur every four years.
The 2020 Presidential election is an unusually strident and epochal contest. To be unique in the long history of presidential contests is itself striking.
Since the first one in 1792, presidential elections have regularly roiled the public’s attention, coinciding with the advance of technology. Once the Morse Code and the telegraph meant that news could travel by wire to all states almost simultaneously, candidates choosing to stay coupled with England or choosing to abandon any Anglo-American alliance, or other major issues, were rapidly put into the public square for argument and discussion in choosing the winning candidate.
Issues like nullification, states rights, civil war, major corruption in government, whether and how to participate in two world wars started in other places, foreign policy initiatives and negotiating world peace agreements, leadership through the Great Depression and a national hunger crisis, how to spread the largesse in boom times, the expansion of federal lands, and more, have all enjoyed a temporary spotlight during America’s presidential contests.
What seems unique about the 2020 contest is not just the advanced age of the two major combatants, but the threat to unravel the entire democratic republican experiment that the U.S.A. is.
Candidate creates chaos
One candidate has excelled in marketing a brand that calls for the collapse of the basic norms of the federal government, bringing something akin to a mob boss mentality to governance. That candidate seems to have no limits in how far he is willing to extend self-dealing, official corruption, using the governmental apparatus to punish perceived enemies, upending long-standing foreign alliances, behaving regularly as if he is above the law, and essentially laying out a behavioral pattern that screams the executive branch of government is the ONLY branch of government that matters. For American youth, it is a terrible civics lesson.
The incumbent president has even tried to interfere in, suppress and otherwise roil public voting in the country in order to create enough chaos to remain in office. Chaos Theory, a modern theory studied in mathematics and the social sciences, ultimately says that “...it is simply a statement of lack of precision on the initial conditions of a system. So unless you know the exact initial conditions of a system, any uncertainty will be amplified and you’ll lose predictive power.”
In other words, since our wonderful democratic experiment is not known in all its essentials to the degree we often think we know, any substantial disorderly behavior within that experiment can easily throw the entire edifice off its axis.
As long as the candidates who choose to compete for authority within the democratic republic we’ve created have been well schooled in the traditions and expectations of that system, regular differences in behavior by winning candidates do not disrupt the expected model of behavior. However, when someone not well schooled within such behavior actually competes and wins not only a position, but the top position, within the accepted system, the seemingly random rejection of expected norms in political behavior can and will sow what appears to be chaos and uncertainty into the system.
One presidential candidate’s threat not to recognize the results of the presidential election unless he wins, in spite of its illegality, is therefore predictive chaotic behavior.
And to reiterate, voters up until Nov. 3 will not actually determine the next president/vice president, but will instead vote to select presidential electors who in turn will vote on Dec. 14, in state houses as the Electoral College to either elect a new president and vice president or reelect the incumbents.
What can, however, be determined by election night or very soon thereafter, will be the thrust of the popular vote in each state. Any of the two principal candidates receiving over 50 percent of the popular vote in each state (except Maine and Nebraska which have different counting systems), is awarded that state’s electoral college vote preemptively. And any of the two main candidates who receive the majority of the popular votes from enough states to equal 270 electoral votes is “supposed” to become the POTUS.
The “fly in this ointment” is that mailed-in ballots will continue to be counted beyond Nov. 3, so the incoming numbers will change and what appears to be 50 percent may erode to less than that. Legally, the vote count can continue until the end of November, unless legal challenges suspend or end such counts, as they did in the 2000 presidential contest.
Since the Electoral College members are state-selected, some states have threatened to override public voting and allow the state legislature to select other Electoral College members, if the state’s results are not in keeping with what the majority political party in the state wants. Wisconsin is such a state. If such states become the critical difference for one candidate or the other to win the presidency, expect such state action, which would be highly unusual. At that point, the U.S. House of Representatives may step forward to seize the initiative from any states and vote to decide on the winner, as the Constitution allows.
The incumbent POTUS has already said he will not willingly leave if the votes go against him, and that he is willing to sue the issue to the Supreme Court if necessary to retain the presidency. So, this 2020 election can get very messy very quickly if chaos theory prevails.
What can also happen, however, is that the country is saved from this political pandemic by an overwhelming vote for the opposition candidate (a landslide) at the outset of the vote count, so there is no chance of reversing the Electoral Vote designation.
Other facts and factors which will affect this election include the following:
- The impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and the lack of proper publicly disseminated information and leadership to combat it. There are currently over 227,000 American Covid-19 casualties, and climbing, with no end in sight and several millions who are infected.
- The long-lasting, wide-spread and on-going public protests in reaction to the police-brutality linked killings of George Floyd and other Black Americans;
- The recent death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the rushed nomination and confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett (as a SCOTUS member who can help determine the legality of the incumbent’s re-election, according to the POTUS who nominated her).
- Whether the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) will survive to help Covid-19 patients and others. The incumbent is attempting to destroy the successful insurance program.
- The drastic increase in the nation’s unemployed and homeless populations and the federal government’s refusal or helplessness in providing more than anemic relief to the millions affected.
- Russian interference in this election to help the incumbent has again been discovered and publicized, along with the presence of other foreign actors.
- The presence of a highly qualified woman on the Democratic ticket, making her the next-in-line to the presidency should the Democratic ticket win. She becomes only the third female vice presidential candidate on a major party ticket (after Geraldine Ferraro in 1984, and Sarah Palin in 2008. Neither won).
- Jo Jorgensen is the Libertarian Party nominee, with Spike Cohen as her running mate, and Howie Hawkins is the Green Party nominee with Angela Nicole Walker as his running mate. (This is only important because of the small margins necessary for victory in some states. In 2016, Jill Stein’s acquisition of votes definitively hurt Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, the three states that made the current POTUS the ultimate victor. Independent parties (or Third Parties) do not win presidential elections in the U.S.
- Lastly, there is the issue of potential presidential dotage. This is the first presidential election in the country s history in which both major candidates are over 70 years of age. Whichever of the two candidates is successful will be, by the Jan. 20th inauguration date, the oldest candidate to be elected POTUS. Biden would both become the oldest person to serve as president at 78 years old, and the first candidate to defeat an incumbent president in 28 years (Democrat Bill Clinton defeated then-POTUS Republican George H. W. Bush in 1992). If re-elected, Trump would become the oldest president ever, being 74 and then 78, if he serves a full second term (Ronald Reagan, in contrast, was 77 years old at the end of his second term).
There are 23 contestable U.S. Senate races in which Republicans are up for election or re-election. Their voting record for at least the past 3 years has been distinctly anti-Black and anti-the public good. In order to get any of the many important items passed by Congress, including a revised and improved Affordable Care Act; H.R. 40, the reparations legislation; H.R. 4, the new Voting Rights Act; the Greenwood, Oklahoma bill to waive the statue of limitations in the Alexander v. Oklahoma case that allows reparations for the devastation of Greenwood in 1921, and other important pieces of legislation, it seemingly would be a good political move to vote against Senate Republicans. They must be sidelined or completely voted out.
Wherever there are Republicans running for the U.S. Senate, there needs to be a massive Black voter turnout to oust them. With a Democrat-led Senate, revisions can also be done to the legislation which enshrines Roe v. Wade before the SCOTUS eviscerates the standard.