Will He Go? Trump and the Looming Election Meltdown in 2020 | Lawrence Douglas

Summary of: Will He Go? Trump and the Looming Election Meltdown in 2020
By: Lawrence Douglas


In ‘Will He Go? Trump and the Looming Election Meltdown in 2020,’ Lawrence Douglas explores the fears and potential consequences surrounding the 2020 United States presidential election. The book delves into Trump’s motivations for staying in office, his disregard for political norms, and the potential for a constitutional crisis if the election results are too close to call. By examining the flaws and intricacies of the US electoral system, the role of the Electoral College, and the divide between the legislative and executive branches of the government, Douglas raises essential questions about the future of American democracy.

Election Outcome & Constitutional Crisis

Legal experts are worried about the potential outcomes of the November 3, 2020, election. If the results are too close to call or if Trump rejects a loss, it could prompt a constitutional crisis. Trump’s self-interest may lead to victory via voter suppression or disinformation. He is motivated to stay in office to avoid consequences of ongoing legal actions. The core democratic principle of peaceful succession of power is at risk.

Trump’s Weak Authoritarianism

Despite being in power, Trump has not been able to consolidate his hold. The intelligence community’s low estimation of the President has been confirmed by the recent impeachment hearings. The American democratic institutions and the Constitution have largely contained Trump’s worst impulses. However, the approaching elections are a unique prospect for Trump to undermine the American electoral system because he does not respect tradition and routinely lies to advance his interests. Trump has repeatedly cried voter fraud, which could have severe consequences for the electoral process. The Republicans’ partisanship, a divisive media landscape, and the blessing of the Senate majority leader have all enabled Trump to break with precedent. The author concludes by pointing out that the American democratic process thrives when its leaders internalize the norms that make it work.

The Flaws in US Electoral Process

A government’s legitimacy is derived from elections, but flaws like ballot stuffing, gerrymandering, and voter intimidation plague the US system. Despite disliking actions and policies, citizens largely consent to the government’s authority. President Trump aims to win at all costs, even defaming working government processes. He panders to those who think the electoral system is unfair and spreads the belief, intimating Americans can’t trust the media to report results accurately. Trump creates an air of validity around his lies, and the creation of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity to investigate alleged voter fraud was an alarming attempt to legitimize his false claims.

Trump’s Potential Election Rejection

The likelihood of Trump leaving office quietly is slim, and his claim of voter fraud may be the reason. A defeat could cause a crisis.

The Complexities of the US Electoral College

When Americans vote for president, they do not vote for their candidate directly but rather a group of electors who pledge to support their candidate. The number of electors is equivalent to the state’s total number of representatives in the House and Senate. Despite a candidate winning the popular vote in the state, electors can still be ‘faithless.’ Winning candidates must receive at least 270 out of the 538 total electoral votes. The Electoral College makes it possible for a candidate who lost the popular vote to still win the White House by carrying a few states with large numbers of electoral voters. The House of Representatives decides who wins if neither candidate receives a majority, with each state casting a vote as a delegation, which could lead to no decision if the delegations are split evenly. While the Electoral Count Act of 1887 provides a roadmap for electoral controversies, it fails to account for issues like faithless electors. If the House cannot choose a president by January 20, the vice president acts as president, but if tied, the Speaker of the House must act as president.

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