The dizzying unfolding of the post-November 8 election results in the United States continues. As the buildup to the Electoral College vote on December 19 approaches, there is uncertainty about how to react to the results. Grass-root protests, boycotts of the Inauguration and planned marches are in the works. Recounts in several states like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, allegations of Russian hacking, condemnations of the C.I.A. by the President-elect, Clinton’s substantial popular vote majority, and Trump’s ethical conflicts of interest all contribute to this uncertainty not seen in presidential elections since George Bush v Al Gore in 2000.
Is all of the uncertainty coming from the incapacity of the Democrats to accept defeat? As Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s campaign manager said to Trump haters: “It’s OK because we won.”
To unpack all of this is not simple as events unravel. If the election was “rigged,” in that Russian hacking of Democrats affected the outcome, then there is serious cause for concern because an outside country interfered in the American electoral process on the side of one candidate. Potential embarrassing hacking of the Republican Party was not made public.
However, for ethical absolutists who are scandalized by this possibility – which Donald Trump vociferously denies – then they should re-examine the role of the United States in various elections around the world in favor of specific candidates. This is not a new phenomenon in world politics, although it may be the first time it has happened to the United States.
Adding to the uncertainty, campaigns are also being mounted to convince Republican electors not to vote for Donald Trump. Full-page ads urging Electoral College members to vote against President-elect Trump have appeared in newspapers around the country. A courageous Republican presidential elector from Texas, Christopher Suprun, wrote an opinion piece in the December 5 New York Times explaining why he will not vote for Donald Trump on December 19. Suprun argued that he will not vote “for someone who shows daily he is not qualified for the office.”
There is speculation that other electors will follow suit. A Harvard University law professor, Larry Lessig, believes that as many as 20 Republican Electoral College voters may vote against Donald Trump. "Obviously, whether an elector ultimately votes his or her conscience will depend in part upon whether there are enough doing the same. We now believe there are more than half the number needed to change the result seriously considering making that vote," Lessig told Politico. Trump had 306 electoral votes on November 8 and needs 270 to be officially elected.
Is this all just sour grapes because the Republicans won? Or are people that afraid of Donald Trump and what he and his team will do that they are clutching at straws to find a way to keep him from being the next president? Many establishment Republicans are also questioning many of Trump’s initial actions such as telephone calls from Taiwan and several of his Cabinet nominees. It is not just Democrats pushing the panic button.
Perhaps Trump is just enjoying his moment of glory with no real sense of being President for four years. There are several reasons for this hunch: 1) Trump’s wife and son will live in New York. He has already said he will spend considerable time in NY and Florida. 2) He has said he will not entirely divest himself of his business dealings. The conflict of interest problems will continue. He will not be able to make business deals and money while president. 3) As President, he will not be able to do whatever he wants. While both Houses of Congress will be Republican, he is already getting pushback from some of the leaders. 4) He has little tolerance for meetings and reading. The job of being President is less exciting, less dramatic than being the star of a reality show. At some point, the virtual presidency will end and reality will take over.
Am I predicting he will not be president in 2019? Is that wishful thinking? Should I listen to Kellyanne Conway’s “It’s OK because we won”? If my hunch is correct, he would have had the glory of winning and we will not have to live with his presidency for the full term.