Can the Grinch Steal the New Year?

The magic date of January 6 is approaching. Having already stolen Christmas from millions of Americans by delaying checks from the most recent COVID relief package passed by Congress, the Grinch now turns his gaze towards the New Year. Spirited Reasoners can imagine a number of unwholesome scenarios. Try these for starters:

  • Imagine a scenario in which Pro-Trump extremists storm Washington, D.C. on January 6. (Groundwork for mass rallies has already been hinted at by Trump tweets.) Now, suppose these extremists are successful, by whatever means, in the physical intimidation of a number of Democratic members of Congress, who then fail to make it to the U. S. Capitol building for the vote-counting session. Vice President Pence then presides over a joint session of primarily Republican lawmakers, who proceed to object to the electoral votes cast by the swing states of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Arizona, and Georgia. Then, after announcing that no candidate has received a majority of the electoral votes cast, the House of Representatives (absent many of the Democrats) meets in accordance with U. S. Constitutional provisions to elect Donald Trump.
  • Imagine a scenario in which those same extremists commit acts of such a violent nature that no electoral session can safely be held. President Trump, using his authority under the Insurrection Act, calls for the U. S. Army to restore order against what he calls “terrorism.” Then, he simply holds onto that power for as long as the U. S. Army will humor him, perhaps well into the year 2021 and even beyond. During that time, he refuses to allow Congress to meet, stating that conditions are still unsafe, again citing his authority under the Insurrection Act.
  • Imagine a scenario in which Vice President Pence uses his Constitutional authority as President of the Senate to announce a vote tally different from the one counted aloud during the joint session of Congress. “Gee,” he says. “Seems to me Donald Trump got at least 270 votes. I declare him to be the winner.” This scenario, idiotic as it may seem, appears to be one of those considered by advisors in Donald Trump’s inner circle.

It seems amazing that Spirited Reasoners need to be envisioning such far-fetched plots and schemes, if only to nip them in the bud. Such paranoid musings would, indeed, be unnecessary if President Trump did not constantly claim that he had won the election “by a wide margin” and was ready for his rightful second term.  

How do we prevent these scenarios from happening? By (a) ensuring the physical protection of members of Congress and the Supreme Court, (b) ensuring the protection of our governmental buildings, and (c) praying that our nation’s leaders will value love of country over lust for power (and golf.)