One Last Chance for Trumpian Mischief

Today, President Trump tweeted as follows: “Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 election. Big protest in D. C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”

Spirited Reasoners understand the significance of that date. Pursuant to the U. S. Constitution and federal law—specifically the Electoral College Act of 1887, which governs our electoral proceedings—the Vice President of the United States is scheduled to preside over a joint session of Congress on January 6 to officially count electoral votes. In most years, this ceremony has been largely ignored. This year, the disciples of President Trump may be hoping for a bit more drama.

According to that federal statute, members of Congress are free to make objections to the vote, but they must do so in writing, signed by at least one member of the House and one member of the Senate. At that point, the House and Senate would divide into their respective chambers for the purpose of debating and voting on the merits of the objection(s). Theoretically, if there are enough Trump supporters in Congress to carry a majority vote in both houses, then the electoral vote could be moved out of the Electoral College and into the House of Representatives.

Unfortunately for President Trump, there appear to be a sufficient number of Democrats and patriotic Republicans (but not 106 of the latter, who were apparently willing to overturn the will of the people) to prevent this parliamentary maneuver from succeeding. Based on his tweet, the President may be hoping that a show of physical intimidation from his most extreme supporters might just be the trick required to persuade his more squeamish supporters.

We doubt it. 106 members of the House of Representatives is a scary number, but it is a far cry from the 218 required to carry a majority vote in that chamber.

It is also possible that Vice President Pence could misuse the power of his office to forestall or otherwise throw sand in the electoral gears. There are no precedents to govern such an action, but one could imagine a scene wherein he simply refused to recognize vote totals from certain swing states.

We doubt that scenario as well. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made it clear that Joe Biden has already won the vote in the Electoral College.

So, although we can expect January 6 to be a day filled with Washingtonian acrimony and perhaps even some street violence, we can also expect the nation to endure these final insults from our departing Commander in Chief.  He should be gone from the White House as of noon on January 20, Inauguration Day, a day most Americans will celebrate the successful working of our peculiar form of republican democracy.

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