Editor’s note: this article was published on July 29th, 2020. She was mighty prescient!
By Linda Porterfield, Charlotte County Dems writer
Listen up, Florida.
If Trump loses this election, he may refuse to leave.
Whispers among high-profile Republicans, political pundits, constitutional scholars, and even Trump himself are growing louder for such a possibility. Trump’s potential attempts to falsely claim power would undoubtedly create a long-lasting political mess.
Let’s just hope this question cannot even be reasonably asked due to a huge Biden win in November, nationally and here in Florida. However, in the months preceding the inaugural events on January 20th, we will see if such a historical high-jacking of the Constitution could become a real possibility.
Is it time to worry?
The 20th amendment to the United States Constitution states “the terms of the President and Vice President shall end on the 20th day of January.” For 250 years presidents have formally transferred power to the president-elect without acrimony.
But this is the era of Trumpism.
In the Atlantic, former US Attorney Barbara McQuade maintains, “if Trump should fail in his final duty as president to transfer power peacefully, the nation’s laws, norms, and institutions will be responsible for carrying out the will of the electorate. Should those fail too, then the American experiment’s greatest achievement will come to a grinding halt, and with it the hope that a republic can ever be kept.”
Don’t pack your bags for Canada just yet.
Here’s a possible scenario outlined by a more optimistic Fred Kaplan in Slate if the improbable happens:
- Instead of acceding to the transfer of power, Trump proclaims that the swearing-in was FAKE NEWS and that he remains the president;
- Nuclear codes, which currently allow Trump to order and authenticate a nuclear attack, expire;
- The entire U.S. military establishment pivots away from ex-President Trump and salutes President Biden;
- If Trump orders the military to defend his actions, they refuse his order. If any officers obey, they are tried and convicted on charges of mutiny and sedition;
- The Secret Service abandons Trump except for a small detail assigned to protect him and his family for the rest of their lives;
- Foreign leaders cut off relations with U.S. ambassadors and await instructions from Biden or his acting Secretary of State;
- Biden’s acting Attorney General issues arrest warrants for Donald Trump and anyone who remains at his side on charges—at a minimum—of criminal trespassing;
- Trump’s aides or Cabinet officers who continue to obey his orders also face criminal charges and, in any case, experience hardship finding respectable employment after the pretend monarch is taken away in handcuffs; and,
- If armed militiamen and sheriffs rally to the White House and refuse to let Biden-ordered U.S. marshals through the gates, a contingent of Secret Service or the National Guard is called to duty. It’s unimaginable that a standoff would come to this, but Commander- in -Chief Biden would have this option available if necessary.
In other words, states Kaplan, “Trump could hole himself up in the Oval Office, but the Oval Office would very soon be cut off from all power. He would have no choice but to give up. It is hard to imagine, even in this time of hard-to-imagine things happening, that a single Supreme Court justice or more than a handful of congressional Republicans would stand up for Trump’s blatantly unconstitutional ploy to stay in power.”
Feeling better now? Not so fast!
Just suppose this election is won on the margins and Trump screams “corruption.” Remember the contested 2000 election and the Florida hanging chad fiasco? The Supreme Court voted along ideological lines to essentially stop the disastrous vote-counting in our state and awarded the presidency to George W. Bush. Our candidate, Al Gore, graciously deferred. Oh, how I wish that had never happened!
So, what does all of this mean for Florida now?
It means is that we need to get our act together. Florida’s preparation for November 3rd must be foolproof by hiring adequate numbers of poll workers, supplying voting machines that actually work, assuring a reliable mail-in vote count procedure, and supporting the presence of poll watchers protecting the voting process.
It also means something for you!
Call our office at 941-764-8440 or sign up here to volunteer for voter outreach. Find out what they do and how you can help. Your efforts can help prevent an equivalent “hanging chad” embarrassment and preserve our crucial election integrity to vote “The Donald” out of office. Chaos like the 2000 election fiasco must never again happen on Florida’s watch. Trump can run but he cannot hide from the rule of a legally conducted election made possible by you.Image Credits: https://pixabay.com/illustrations/oval-office-donald-trump-politics-3144443/