The United States has endured a long, ugly and contentious presidential election. A divided country, entrenched into two teams, views their political opponents with suspension and disdain. After a hard-fought battle, Joe Biden was anointed by the Associated Press as the declared winner and president-elect.
There are lingering concerns that the U.S. has not seen the end of this presidential drama unfold. President Donald Trump alleges voting irregularities and has vowed to seek legal redress and take his claims to the U.S. Supreme Court. His legal challenges, to determine if there have been violations of voting laws, could challenge Biden’s legitimacy as president.
Trump proudly proclaimed, “Our campaign will start prosecuting our case in court to ensure election laws are fully upheld and the rightful winner is seated.” He added, “The American People are entitled to an honest election: that means counting all legal ballots, and not counting any illegal ballots.”
According to the Associated Press, over 76,653,490 ballots have been cast for President-elect Joe Biden, as of Nov. 10. He won 290 electoral college votes, which put him comfortably over the 270 threshold. Trump earned 71,700,597 ballots, along with 214 Electoral College votes.
Given that over 70 million Americans voted for their respective candidates, it’s critically important to ensure that there’s a resolution of any outstanding claims for the sake of the nation. The peaceful transition of the baton of presidential power is one of America’s most treasured traditions. It’s a hallmark and foundation of our democracy.
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In recent modern history, the U.S. has witnessed a few contentious races. There were allegations of vote rigging in the 1960 election, but Richard Nixon conceded to John F. Kennedy nevertheless. In 2000, the presidential race boiled down to reviewing ballots by hand, checking “hanging chads” in Florida to figure out who actually received the majority of votes. Al Gore acquiesced to the Supreme Court’s ruling that George W. Bush won the presidential election, although there were lingering questions if the count was actually accurate.
The Business Roundtable is an exclusive membership of upper echelon CEOs from major corporations, who preside over more than 15 million employees and earn more than $7 trillion in annual revenues. The organization, led by Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, conducted a video conference to discuss the unthinkable—what would happen if Trump doesn’t leave office by Jan. 20?
The elite CEOs agreed, “They’re all fine with him taking an appeal to the court, to a judicial process.” Yale Management Professor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, who led the meeting said, “They didn’t want to deny him that. But that doesn’t stop the transition. It doesn’t hurt anything to let that grind through. There is no indication that any of these would change the outcome.”
The roundtable said that there isn’t evidence of widespread fraud. However, that is not exactly what Trump is alleging. He is pointing out there seems to be questions and suspicious activities specifically surrounding certain cities and states that contained pivotal swing votes. The CEOs did not take any immediate actions and demurred making any decisions until Nov. 20—when there’s a scheduled certification of votes in Georgia.
The group discussed possible uncomfortable scenarios, such as “seditious riots” at Trump rallies and “mass firings like Trump’s ouster of Defense Secretary Mark Esper and other Pentagon officials.” They were worried about how the country and economy would react to a recalcitrant Trump, bunkering down in the White House.
Sonnenfeld said, “They thought it could have a very devastating effect upon markets, on public trust in the process.” If this were to happen, Sonnenfeld said they’d take action “to make sure that the Republican elected officials do their jobs and and then be patriots and respect the process.” There may come a time when CEOs will be forced to use their power and influence and cease remaining quiet and take appropriate steps to quell any potential violent disruptions.
It’s understandable that CEOs and citizens alike would be concerned that there’s a slight chance of a battle over who is the legitimate president. Even the most ardent Trump supporters would freely acknowledge that Trump comes across petulant, argumentative and volatile. He admits this himself in his books, such as The Art of the Deal, as these are business techniques to distract, bully and take advantage of adversaries.
Trump jumped the gun and prematurely declared victory on the night of the election. He then promised to go to the Supreme Court in an effort to halt vote counting. This stoked fears that he might not accept the results and lash out.
Biden’s team has a phalanx of lawyers standing ready for a legal fight. His army of attorneys will wage war with Trump and his accusations of fraud, relative to mail-in voting. Biden said that federal officials “will escort [Mr. Trump] from the White House with great dispatch,” if necessary.
It doesn’t seem that our Constitution has rules on what to do if a sitting president won’t willingly leave office. This is one of the many reasons that causes concern. Would the Secret Service be called on to physically evict him or could they rally on his behalf? Who would ask for the FBI, CIA or Army to take charge? Could we have a scenario in which armed government agents fight amongst themselves? This could lead to national crisis and civil war.
The odds are high that this won’t happen. It’s healthy for our democracy to have the means for Trump to pursue his grievances through appropriate legal channels. If irregularities are discovered and laws broken, there should be investigations. If the courts determine that there wasn’t sufficient fraud to invalidate the elections, power must be transferred over.
Trump loves a show. We forget that his Apprentice television program propelled him from a well-known New York City real estate billionaire to a national icon. Leaving office feeling cheated sets up his next act. Trump’s ego may not allow him to concede, but that’s not mandated to hand over power. He’ll likely establish a shadow government in exile. Trump, now the aggrieved underdog, will travel the country holding massive rallies for his staunch constituency. There is talk that he might start a digital news site to compete against Fox news, especially as Twitter may politely ask him to stop tweeting. The next few years will be another season for his show. Trump will use his rallies and new media online profile to make a dramatic run for the presidency again in 2024.