As if 2020 hasn’t been a weird enough year, we’re now dealing with the disorienting fact that it’s Thanksgiving next week, and we’re still talking about the presidential election.
In case you’ve fallen behind on the latest season of America: The Absurdly Over-the-Top Soap Opera, Donald Trump has lost the election, but like the lush head of hair he enjoyed in the early ’80s, he refuses to accept that his presidency is a thing of the past.
Only in this hellscape of a year can objective statements of fact be considered controversial, but as the great Kenny Powers once said, we’re about to f–k you up with some truth:
Joe Biden’s margins of victory in both the Electoral College and the popular vote are greater than the margins by which Trump claimed victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016. There’s no reason to believe that any sort of fraud took place on such a scale that it might have influenced the outcome of the election. Trump was always gonna throw a sh-t fit if he lost this thing, regardless of what the numbers showed.
There, now that we’ve established the iron clad case for Biden’s status as the president-elect, let’s explore some of the many feasible ways in which Trump could steal this thing out from under him.
As you’re probably aware, Americans don’t vote for the president directly; instead, they vote for electors who then then carry out the will of the people by casting a ballot for the candidate who won their district.
Like the opioid epidemic and Dancing With the Stars, this is a baffling part of American life that we’ve all just come to accept.
Sure, deciding the election with the popular vote would make a lot of sense, but so would keeping military-grade assault weapons out of the hands of angry loners, and we won’t be doing that anytime soon, either!
Besides, up until this point, there was never any real fear that a losing candidate would exploit the system in order to steal the election.
But like diet and exercise, Trump has no interest in the system of norms that prevent the erosion of American democracy!
The idea of Republican state legislatures appointing Trump electors regardless of the will of the voters has already been tossed around by several conservative commentators.
Earlier this week, Fox News reporter mused that “the anger out there in these red states is so deep and so palpable that GOP legislators may have a difficult team seating Biden electors.”
According to report from the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman, Trump himself has discussed the idea in secretive White House meetings.
And as with so many of the norms Trump has violated during his time in office, there’s no law on the books to prevent him from taking this action.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is, in order to pull it off, Trump would need a whole lot of co-conspirators, each of whom would need to openly disregard the sworn duties of their office in order to assist in stealing an election.
It’s unclear if they would face any criminal prosecution for doing so, as this would create a thorny legal situation in which the US Constitution, federal law, and laws in the individual states all coming into play.
What’s certain is that the electors would be flushing their professional reputations down the drain for a coup that probably wouldn’t be successful anyway.
That’s because Trump would need to reverse the results in several states, and some of those states (Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin) have Democratic governors and secretaries of state who probably won’t sit idly by while the president commits the greatest act of electoral fraud in American history.
Furthermore, election results in Michigan and Wisconsin are certified by bipartisan boards who are probably more interested in preserving the actual results of the vote than installing a sweaty dictator, third world junta-style.
So in other words, yes, it’s possible that the president could fiddle with the Electoral College in such a way as to steal himself a second term in office.
But at this point, that seems about as likely as Trump going vegan.