360° Analysis

Can Donald Trump Steal a Second Term?

Donald Trump is doing all he can to push for the election to be decided by the Supreme Court rather than by the people. Will the strategy pay off?
S. Suresh, Donald Trump news, US election 2020, US election news, mail-in voting news, US voter fraud, US voter suppression, US Postal Service news, USPS mail-in ballots, Trump mail-in voting

Donald Trump in Bethesda, MD, USA on 10/4/2020. © Tia Dufour / White House

October 12, 2020 16:28 EDT

US President Donald Trump, who lost the popular vote by more than 3 million in 2016, is trailing his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, in most national polls. It looks like the writing is on the wall for Trump, with his ineptitude and disingenuity laid out for the world to see.

Trump is a president whose bungled handling of the COVID-19 outbreak has resulted in the death of more than 215,000 Americans. Even after being infected by the virus himself, Trump tweeted on October 5: “I will be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Center today at 6:30 P.M. Feeling really good! Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life. We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!”

360° Context: The 2020 US Election Explained


As president, Trump received the best possible treatment anyone infected with the virus could hope for, including access to medication that an average American can only dream of. Trump’s insensitive tweet flies in the face of the lives lost, displaying his utter disconnect from reality and a cruel lack of empathy. This is a president who has a chronic compulsion for defrauding people and lying pathologically about seemingly everything, including his finances. As a recent investigation by The New York Times exposed, Trump not only managed to pay no tax at all in 10 out of the past 15 years, but he is also a consummate loser as a businessman.

Trump is also the first president in the history of the United States to have been impeached and then seek reelection following an acquittal by the Senate. It is seemingly inconceivable that a tax evader, crook, pathological liar and callous narcissist can succeed in hoodwinking the public for a second time into electing him. Sadly, anyone who dismisses Trump as not reelectable would do so at their own peril.

Voter Suppression

President Trump has repeatedly tried to undermine the democratic process in more ways than one cares to count in the lead up to the presidential election on November 3. Without providing any credible evidence, he has claimed that voting by mail is fraught with fraud, sowing seeds of doubt in the election results should his bid for a second term fail. Wary Democrats have reacted to this by encouraging people to cast their vote in person, despite the raging pandemic.

In an effort to further subvert mail-in voting, Trump trained his guns on the United States Postal Service (USPS), openly admitting that he opposed allocating additional funding. “They need that money in order to have the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” Trump stated unabashedly in an interview with Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo in August. “If they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting because they’re not equipped to have it.” Despite these attacks, Trump himself voted using a mail-in ballot during the March presidential primaries in his resident state of Florida.

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One has to marvel at the brazen thoroughness with which he is diminishing the authenticity of the very process that propelled him to his current position. There are only two ways in which people can exercise their franchise: by voting in person or by using an alternate option that is available to them in their local jurisdiction, such as vote-by-mail or absentee ballots. On the one hand, Trump has discredited the usage of mail-in ballots. He has also appointed Louis DeJoy, a Republican donor, as postmaster general, who has crippled the operations of the USPS. On the other hand, Trump is employing scare tactics to turn people away from in-person voting. His comprehensive approach is aimed at lowering voter turnout, which he believes will be favorable for Republicans.

In a statement that borders on voter intimidation, Trump stated in an interview with Fox News on August 20 that “We’re going to have sheriffs, and we’re going to have law enforcement, and we’re going to hopefully have U.S. attorneys and we’re going to have everybody, and attorney generals.” Trump was alluding to sending law enforcement officials to voting centers. Federal law prohibits any on-duty law enforcement personnel bearing arms from entering a voting center without the express purpose of casting their own vote. Yet the mere threat of sending police and sheriffs to voting centers, even if only to monitor polls, can terrify marginalized communities and prevent them from turning up to vote.

Logic Defying Loyalty

Anyone with an iota of common sense can see the hypocrisy of Trump’s statements. Sadly, there is an intransigent base of followers that he has cultivated who refuse to see him for the charlatan president he really is. Cognitive neuroscientist Bobby Azarian’s article in Psychology Today, entitled “A Complete Psychological Analysis of Trump’s Support,” enumerates more than a dozen elements that energize Trump’s voter base, which include terror management theory and the Dunning-Kruger effect.

There are several Republican politicians who have stated that they will not be supporting Trump in this election. Nearly everyone on the list is someone who held office as a Republican in the past and is not seeking reelection. Other than Senators Mitt Romney and Lisa Murkowski, both of whom have not categorically stated who they intend to vote for, most sitting Republican politicians have forsaken their dignity and self-respect in order to do Trump’s bidding.

Former Nevada Senator Dean Heller brazenly lied in a Fox News interview that the state’s vote-by-mail process will allow people to vote once by mail and once in person. Trump echoed this in September when he seemed to suggest voters should “test” the system by casting their ballot twice.

Serving as an election officer in my local county, I know for a fact that when a person’s vote-by-mail ballot is received, it is recorded in the system and it is impossible for the same person to vote again without committing fraud under the penalty of perjury. Truth notwithstanding, Trump and Heller have managed to sow seeds of doubt among the gullible, making some of them question the robustness of the country’s democratic election process.

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham has been one of the biggest turncoats in his criticism of the president. In 2015, Graham called Trump a “race-baiting, xenophobic, religious-bigot.” Today, he is one of Trump’s staunchest cronies. Fighting a tough reelection bid in his home state, Graham shamelessly kowtows to the same person who was the object of his scathing criticism that has made an interesting case study on the fluctuating loyalties of politicians.  

GOP Machinery

However disingenuous and self-serving Trump’s actions may be, to win in November, the president needs the help of well-oiled machinery that is unafraid to flout the democratic process, engage in voter suppression and set the stage for a possible showdown in the judiciary system overruling the will of the people. That machinery goes by the name of the GOP.

In Santa Clara County, California, the Registrar of Voters has made available nearly 100 vote-by-mail drop-off locations spread across the county. In stark contrast, Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose ordered just one drop-off box installed in each of the state’s 88 counties, some of which have a population of more than a million. LaRose reluctantly yielded after a judge in Franklin County rescinded his order. LaRose has since agreed to allow individual counties to decide to have more drop-off boxes if they wish to, but he has mandated that the location of those boxes has to be within the premises of the board of elections’ property, doing his best to make it as difficult as possible for people to cast their ballots.  

It is worth remembering that, in 2004, the partisan actions of Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State Ken Blackwell may very well have played the decisive factor in George W. Bush getting reelected. Ohio continues to be a battleground state in 2020, and the actions of LaRose are dangerously reminiscent of what happened 16 years ago.

In Texas, Republican Governor Greg Abbott has managed to succeed where LaRose fell short. Abbott has issued a proclamation limiting the number of drop-off locations to just one per county. Elections are already underway even as the legal wrangling over Abbott’s decision is likely to ensue. Concerned by the changing demographics of the voting population in his state, Abbott’s actions show how scared Republicans are and the extent to which they will go to subvert democracy.

Setting the Stage for a Grand Finale

Should he lose, Trump has categorically refused to commit to an orderly and peaceful transfer of power to his Democratic opponent. The president believes that this election will be decided by the Supreme Court, not the people of America.

The sudden demise of the liberal Supreme Court icon, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, has provided Trump and the Republicans a fortuitous opportunity to shift the ideology of the court to decidedly conservative. No doubt, Democrats will do everything within their power to appeal to the logic and conscience of Republican senators to stop the confirmation of Trump’s nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, to replace Ginsburg just weeks before the presidential election. Unfortunately, both logic and conscience are in dangerously short supply, if not downright nonexistent, among Republican politicians in a Trumpian world.

Can America see a blue wave of unprecedented proportion, awarding the White House to Joe Biden and flipping the Senate majority to the Democrats? Or will the machinations of Donald Trump and his coterie preclude such an occurrence from coming to pass? Whatever happens, if Trump fails to get the result he desperately craves, we should not be surprised to see more flagrant acts aimed at subverting democracy unfold before us.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.

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