The next 48 hours could be the most significant for America at least for the next decade or so.
First up is the Georgian election. Voting is underway now and polls will close at 1 pm New Zealand time. Early results can be accessed from the Guardian here.
Polling suggests the results will be close. And recently in an attempt to gain belated support the Republican candidates, Kelly Loeffler of insider trading fame and David Perdue have come out and said they would support Trump in the attack on the election result that will be made in Congress tomorrow.
The stakes are extreme. The result could tilt control in the senate and give Biden a much stronger mandate to actually do something.
And tomorrow Congress meets to formally receive the election results. This should be a foregone conclusion but Trump is not giving up as the leaked tape of his hour long call with Georgia’s chief election official Brad Raffensperger shows. He was caught urging Raffensperger to “find” 11,780 votes for him, enough to flip the result at least in Georgia.
Of course he would have to do this in a number of other states as well. I think it is pretty likely that similar calls are being made to other swing state officials.
As described by Peter Baker in the New York Times:
The President has gone well beyond simply venting his grievances or creating a face-saving narrative to explain away a loss, as advisers privately suggested he was doing in the days after the November 3 vote. Instead, he has stretched or crossed the boundaries of tradition, propriety and perhaps the law to find any way he can to cling to office beyond his term that expires in two weeks. That he is almost certain to fail and that President-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated January 20 does not mitigate the damage he is doing to democracy by undermining public faith in the electoral system.
Trump’s hour-long telephone call over the weekend with Georgia’s chief election official, Brad Raffensperger, pressuring him to “find” enough votes to overturn Biden’s victory in that state only brought into stark relief what the President has been doing for weeks. He has called the Republican governors of Georgia and Arizona to get them to intervene. He has summoned Michigan’s Republican Legislature leaders to the White House to pressure them to change their state’s results. He called the Republican speaker of the Pennsylvania House multiple times seeking help to reverse the outcome there.
Trump and his staff have floated the idea of delaying Biden’s inauguration, even though it is set in stone by the Constitution, and the President met with a former adviser who has publicly urged him to declare martial law to “rerun” the election in states he lost. Trump’s erratic behaviour has so alarmed military commanders who fear he might try to use troops to stay in the White House that every living former defence secretary — including two he appointed himself — issued a warning against the armed forces becoming involved.
Trump has gone even further and claimed that Pence still has the power to overturn the result. From David Smith in the Guardian:
… defying norms to the end, Trump falsely insists that Pence can intervene and change the outcome. At a rally in Dalton, Georgia, ahead of Tuesday’s crucial Senate runoff elections, the president said: “I hope Mike Pence comes through for us … He’s a great guy. Of course, if he doesn’t come through, I won’t like him quite as much.”
He followed up with a tweet on Tuesday that wrongly claimed: “The Vice President has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors.” Experts were quick to point out that the vice-president has no such power and there is no evidence of election fraud.
Of course one should not implicitly trust Trump’s grasp of figures or reality for that case. He recently tweeted the wrong phone number for Lee Chatfield, who Trump had mistakenly thought was the Speaker of the Michigan State House. Dear reader he was the former speaker.
The actual owner of the phone number was in for a surprise. From Kenya Evelyn at the Guardian:
In the president’s latest attempt to overturn the results of the presidential election, campaign officials called on Twitter and Facebook users to contact the Michigan state senate majority leader, Mike Shirkey, and former state house speaker Lee Chatfield to decertify its presidential election ballets and threaten Joe Biden’s victory. Biden won the state by more than 150,000 votes.
The campaign posted what they believed to be Chatfield’s phone number. Instead, they had mistakenly given the phone number for O Rose, who goes by a shortened first name. Rose told the Petoskey News-Review their phone began ringing nonstop soon after.
“I told them I was not Lee Chatfield, but they would still not believe me,” they said. “It was just a string of people progressively denying reality.”
Big rallies are being proposed and Ted Cruz is clearly lining up another run at the Presidential nomination by backing Trump to the hilt despite the egregious way his family was treated by the Orange coiffured one.
I am not sure if it will be a day of high drama or high pathos or both. But I can safely claim that America will not be the same again.
Update (lprent): The democratic senators from Georgia are called as victors. A riot pushed by an irresponsible President Trump happened at the Capitol building with people dead. Congress subsequently made a determined proclamation that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are confirmed a the newly elected president and vice-president. As for Donald Trump – goodbye to unstable rubbish..