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OP-ED: The madness of King George III and Donald Trump

  • Published at 02:16 pm November 25th, 2020
President Trump hugs an American flag at the Conservative Political Action Conference annual meeting at National Harbor near Washington, March 2, 2020 Reuters

Fortunately, the institutions of the US are not as unreliable as the current president

We are entering into the third week after the US presidential elections, and about nearly that time since Joe Biden has been called the winner after he crossed the 270 electoral college votes threshold. In this time period, the defeated candidate, Donald Trump, has stuck to his stubborn resistance to acknowledge he defeat (because he hates “losers”) with his fictitious claims of vote fraud and vote manipulation. 

His lawyers filed more than 32 cases in various states asking for stopping of vote counting or rejection of votes on grounds of false or irregular voting, votes by unregistered voters (including by dead people), not allowing poll watchers from Republican party, none of which passed muster by the courts where these were filed. 

Congressional Research Service states that according to US Code (3 U.S.C. §5) if election results are contested in any state, and if the state, prior to election day, has enacted procedures to settle controversies or contests over electors and electoral votes, and if these procedures have been applied, and the results have been determined six days before the electors’ meetings, then these results are considered to be conclusive, and will apply in the counting of the electoral votes. 

This date, known as the “Safe Harbour” deadline, falls on December 8 in 2020. The governor of any state where there was a contest, and in which the contest was decided according to established state procedures, is required (3 U.S.C. §6) to send a certificate describing the form and manner by which the determination was made to the archivist as soon as practicable. 

As of this date, none of the contests by Donald Trump’s campaign has been able to provide any evidence of wrongdoing or vote manipulation in any of the states that Donald Trump has lost to Joe Biden. In fact, in one state – Georgia -- Biden has been reaffirmed as the winner by a margin of over 12,000 votes after a full hand recount of the ballots. 

The other states, Nevada, Wisconsin, and notably Pennsylvania, the vote difference between Joe Biden and Donald Trump is so huge that even if the votes were recounted, the big margin would never reverse the results. 

And yet, Donald Trump is obstinate, and has his head sunk in the sand. He keeps on harping or repeating his mantra of vote fraud without citing an iota of evidence to support his whacky claim. Is this really insanity or is this a contrived madness for a reason? 

There have many a speculation by pundits about this bizarre conduct of Donald Trump, one of which is the abiding support of his followers, or Trumpers as they are commonly referred to. The Trumpers are also Republicans who turned to him like the children who followed the Pied Piper of Hamelin and jumped to their deaths. But unlike children of this fictional anecdote, Trumpers are full grown adults who were drawn by his demagoguery and blustering style of insulting anyone and everyone who stood in his way. 

They liked him so much that instead of being put off by his lies and false claims of vote fraud and vote rigging, they believed in him like cult followers. It is interesting to note here that President Trump started to vilify the election process much before the actual elections as though by premonition he had foreseen his defeat. 

He only doubled down his vilification of the election process once the results started to unravel his impending defeat. He started to energize his blind followers who were dismayed by his impending defeat with renewed railing against the election process, calling it rigged. And his voters responded with rallies carrying the false flag.

Donald Trump may be blind to reality, and because of his hubris he is refusing to admit that he has lost. But what about his own Republican Party and its stalwarts who dominate the Senate (at least up to now)? Are they also blind to reality and are in a denial mode knowing fully well the election process in this country that chooses its president and other legislators? Or have they been totally mesmerized by the defiant and king-like demeanor of a leader who has gone berserk to throw into the dustbin millions of ballots?

There is no easy answer to this collective behaviour of both President Trump and his pliant sycophants. One answer that seems to resonate with many, including the Republican leaders, is the large number of votes that Trump received this time even in defeat. (Trump received 10 million more votes this time than in 2016). 

Even then, he is nearly 6 million votes behind Joe Biden -- 72 million for Trump vs 78 million for Biden. But this increase in voting has happened across the board. A record number of voters participated in the presidential election. Voter participation is expected to be around 74% when the tally is fully completed, highest since 1900. Joe Biden is expected to be the president with the highest votes ever. But Donald Trump and his sycophants are simply awed by the sheer number of votes he received. 

The number of votes that Donald Trump won has unfortunately given a wrong signal to both Trump and his flunkies in his party. While Donald Trump takes this as a bold endorsement of his fact-free presidency, and scorched earth attitude, his party minions are fearful that any attempt to rectify the errant president will enrage his base and make him the perpetual leader of the party.  

They are afraid to rectify him and bring him the bad news of his defeat and ask him to accept it gracefully. They are chugging along with a mentally imbalanced president and along with it, taking democracy and democratic traditions of this country into a morass. 

George III of England is known as the king who lost America. But in real life, King George actually suffered from a terrible mental disease. We do not know if President Trump suffers from any such disease. But we do know from his conduct and behaviour in the last four years that he has a tremendous dislike for truth and fear of reality, reality of losing. We also know and fear that unless he accepts the reality of his loss and continues to defy the democratic process of the country, he may go down in history as the president who lost the American people. 

Fortunately, the institutions in the US and its legal system are not as unpredictable or unreliable as the current president. They have stood the test of time and will do the right things now. On January 20, 2021, the US will have its new President Joe Biden.

Ziauddin Choudhury has worked in the higher civil service of Bangladesh early in his career, and later for the World Bank in the US.

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