The Fall of President Trump and His Refusal to Concede

The Fall of President Trump and His Refusal to Concede

Jessica Darling, Fall 2020

Background

The Election of 2020 presented another difficult choice for America, and had the country hugely divided. Sources were calling this the ‘election that might break America’ [1]. This election pins our current President against one of our former Vice Presidents. Ultimately, this election had more power than most have had previously. The nation had been plagued recently by the increased rise of racism. This racism had not only become more prominent since Donald Trump became President, but had been brought more to the public eye and sparked more protests in Trump’s America. “These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!” [2]. This quote had spoken outrage on mourning the death of George Floyd by Donald Trump on Twitter. He posted this in regards to increased looting, and rioting, in the states, and it sparked mass anger, especially in the Black community. There had never been more racism, the violence, riots, and fear in the African American community since the Civil Rights movement. America had hardly ever seen a President with the qualities of Donald Trump, and it’s frightening. The encouragement from social media, family members, and others to exercise your right to vote have never been higher. This election will deeply affect the future of America; but will Donald Trump give in that easily after a four year taste of victory?

The COVID-19 Impact

There’s no doubt in 2020 voter’s minds that the rise of COVID-19 plays a huge impact on who voters will choose in this election. When it comes to voting this year, many people have chosen the mail-in option rather than cluster at the polls. This alternative is only being offered due to COVID-19. “The coronavirus pandemic had made voting by mail one of the election’s most contentious issues.” [3]. But how exactly was mail-in voting controversial? Many ballots in the 2020 election may have been rejected for failure to get a witness signature, they could have been lost in the mail which was only backed up by the ongoing USPS crisis in delayed and backed up mail. Ultimately, mail-in voting was where votes tended to be credited as invalid, as some weren’t counted, they got lost, whatever the reason. The election saw fractured numbers as a result of mail-in. How does this connect back to COVID-19? COVID-19 was the reasoning behind the increased production of mail-in votes. A majority of the population were afraid to approach the polls for fear they’ll contract the virus.

Another connection to how COVID-19 had impacted the polls is more indirect in this scenario. Over the course of the last 7 months, the nation had seen our President’s response to the ongoing crisis up to the President himself contracting the virus. “As the campaign entered its final three-month stretch, Trump trailed badly in national and battleground-state polls as Americans gave his dismal handling of the pandemic a failing grade.” [4]. It’s easy to argue that no President could have done better, but the lack of empathy and denial of science during this administration speaks for itself. Donald Trump refused to listen to experts, let alone wear a mask for himself, and this personally spoke to the people how they should vote this election. Many people are disappointed in this administration’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the failure to do better by the people. This pandemic, in the midst of an election year, gave the people a jumpstart on which candidate’s campaign to support, especially whilst America is still dealing with the virus and its aftermath.

Image Source: BBC News

An Electoral Tie

The next scenario is a situation in which the electoral college ties; what should happen then? A tie in the Electoral College is stated to be highly unlikely, but not utterly impossible. This election was a close-knit one, and the country was severely divided, thus, there had been a huge chance for it. The last Electoral College tie appeared in the run for presidency in the year 1800 between Aaron Burr and Thomas Jefferson. In that situation, it was the House of Representatives that broke the electoral tie. “Unfortunately, Jefferson and his vice-presidential running mate Aaron Burr both received the identical number of electoral votes, and the House of Representatives voted to break the tie” [5]. Ultimately, as history knows, Thomas Jefferson was elected by the House of Representatives with nine votes needed at the time.

This situation, being similar in some aspects as that of the Election of 1800, comes at a huge political and social tension in the United States. Our country is extremely divided on many social and political issues. The United States is also fighting off a global pandemic in the midst of an election year. As history tells us, the Electoral College had only ever tied around twice, but this is not completely impossible to happen for a third time. This was one of the main fears among this year’s election, but it does not happen often. Electors in the college often vote for the popular vote among their home state, although that doesn’t always happen as planned. It’s noted that most states do not have laws requiring an Elector to choose the popular vote candidate of their state. A tie in a tense political atmosphere is unsurprising, as electors can simply vote the candidate of their own choice and political agenda.

In the case of an Electoral College tie, the future of the Presidency remains unknown for a few weeks. Thankfully, this was not the case, but very well could have been. The final results polling out to be a 306 to 232 victory for Joe Biden, a dominating victory, much like that of Trump’s in 2016. Many people were antsy about the results of the election, especially that in the event of an Electoral College tie. Faithless electors are a possibility to happen, and a tied election would be the beginning of much protest and violence between Democrat and Republican supporting citizens. It is relieving that it did not come to narrowing down onto the choice of the House, as it could have sparked too much pressure and hostility. An Electoral College tie would have thrown the United States into peril, and the relieving fact that it did not happen was a miracle.

Trump Refuses

According to BBC news, former Vice President Joe Biden had taken the lead in the polls. It’s worth noting that some of the polls were discredited due to COVID-19 related issues, but is it completely inaccurate? This fall, we saw the conclusion of a months long, hard run election between two high profile candidates. The people were left with a lingering question based on their knowledge of the current President; will Donald Trump concede in a situation where he lost the election? A lot of Americans are placing little faith into the President leaving the White House with dignity, as he himself had made numerous comments in case he was to lose. Back in the 2016 election, Donald Trump had more dignity that he would accept defeat if he must, however, that mood set had changed in the run for his re-election. In 2016, he is quoted to have said, “Ladies and gentlemen, I want to make a major announcement today. I would like to promise and pledge to all of my voters and supporters, and to all the people of the United States, that I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election.” He paused, then made three sharp thrusts of his forefinger to punctuate the next words: “If … I … win!” [6]. Although this comes from the 2016 election, it should be emphasized how his personality had changed pending this election.

This election, Trump had made numerous statements about how this election was ‘rigged’ if he did not win it. “Rigged 2020 election: millions of mail-in ballots will be printed by foreign countries, and others. it will be the scandal of our times!” [7]. Many Americans are scared of an uncertain election, and an event in which Biden wins and Trump refuses to stand down. This is completely unheard of after an election for the losing party to not accept their defeat and persist. It seems as if many people reasonably believe that a President who squats out in the Oval Office would be treated as a trespasser on federal property, but how true is that? An event like this could severely damage the United States economy and as a nation.

Premature Victory Declaration

Post-election day, although Joe Biden was winning the popular vote, Trump was heavily convinced that victory belonged to him. Very early morning on Wednesday, the day after Election Day, Donald Trump had declared victory absurdly early into the process. He still continues to claim a fraudulent election, prematurely stated his victory over states that have not yet finished tally votes. “Trump wrongly declared himself the winner of the election and wants the vote-counting to stop while he had a lead in the same-day voting tallies” [8]. In declaring this, he was invalidating the many mail-in ballots that had not yet been counted, whilst his campaign was stating they care about every ballot. Even checking Donald Trump’s Twitter posts, his ego had increased and he was overly confident that the election would end in a Republican victory. Despite many votes making it in, a lot of votes appear to be disputable and Trump is taking advantage of this to turn it in his favor. It’s worth emphasizing that many of his Twitter posts, on the day following Election Day, are being censored by Twitter itself for ‘misleading about an election or civic process’.

Post-Election Day; Biden Wins

As election day had rolled past, Donald Trump had proclaimed himself the winner despite the popular vote picking Biden by almost 5 million, with only North Carolina, Alaska and Georgia left to finish their count. In a present 290-214 race, and been losing for over a solid 24 hours at minimum, Trump had taken to Twitter to state his protests and victory. He tweeted, “I won this election, by a lot” [9]. His campaign was trying to take the last few states to finalize their results to court, claiming fraud and error. Many of the judges have thrown his cases out, such as the situation with Michigan. “So far, the localized incidents that the campaign had used in an effort to elevate allegations of misconduct have been unable to convince judges to grant the campaign the large-scale relief it is seeking. The president and his allies had continued to insist they had evidence of misconduct at press conferences and on social media” [10]. Trump had been given every last effort to take this victory from Biden, refusing so far, to concede his seat. Since Biden had been proclaimed the winner, Trump had not said all that much, but he and his campaign have made it clear they won’t back down without a fight.

Trump’s Silence & Fixation

In the now almost two weeks that have passed since the election, Trump had made claim after claim that the Democrats had stolen this victory for him as each state rolled in with its tally for the popular vote. Following the election, and its final results with a projected 306-232 win, Trump had maintained a public silence, though he still refuses to concede. The President had not spoken publicly after his humiliating defeat the first week of November, and remains to believe that the presidency was stolen from him and rigged. Upon his defeat for the White House, Trump had gained a huge fixation on proving and fighting the results of the election, dropping lawsuits on many of the states’ that he had lost in, doorstep. Much of which had resulted in no basis for such lawsuits. With the rising new amount of COVID-19 cases within the country, it seems Trump had merely given up as the country readies itself for new leadership, while digging his heels in any last minute efforts to stop the change. His campaign is standing by him in his refusal to concede, demanding recounts and doing anything legally possible to prevent a crushing defeat. “The cases are an attempt from Trump’s campaign to invalidate ballots cast for Biden, as Trump refuses to concede the election, alleging — so far without evidence — widespread voter fraud and a “stolen” election aided by a historically large volume of mail-in ballots.” [11]. It seems Trump is only challenging the states in which he lost, and ones that were very close for a few painful days. His campaign is standing right behind him in the final stretch to reverse this defeat and election. Many of his supporters are rallying outside of the White House while Trump eggs them on from behind the White House walls. Trump had made it clear he will not concede and admit his loss, and he had remained silent about this in the week following Biden’s declaration of victory, making the people believe that he will never. Finally, Donald Trump breaks the silence over Twitter, admitting that Biden won because the election was rigged and that he concedes nothing [12]. However, in contrast to this, all of the cases in key swing states that Biden won (such as Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, etc.), Trump’s lawsuits and recounts are only providing further evidence that Trump had lost. Despite these lawsuits, with little to no evidence that, are being thrown out by court officials, Trump is highly persistent that he was wronged, and the White House stolen from him.

Trump Will Never Concede

The truth is, Trump may never concede, and he does not actually have to. While the United States had never actually had a President refuse to concede, Trump does not mentally have to, as long as the switch in the White House occurs when it is supposed to. Donald Trump is entitled to his refusal to accept the outcome of what happened, so long as he leaves when his term is finished in January 2021. He is allowed to take it until the end of his life that he deserved to win the election, but what is done is done. It is highly unlikely that Trump will squat in the White House after his term is legally completed, as this would be considered trespassing on federal property and could earn him some deep trouble. The fact is, Donald Trump may take his stubbornness and narcissism to the grave over this 2020 election, and there is not much that can be done about it. Legally, Trump will have to step out of the White House this coming January, but he is always allowed to rally on Twitter about how his second term was ‘robbed’ from him.

Notes

[1]. Gellman, Barton. “The Election That Could Break America.” (The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, November 6, 2020.) https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/11/what-if-trump-refuses-concede/616424/.www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/11/what-if-trump-refuses-concede/616424/

[2]. Trump, Donald. “These THUGS.” (Twitter. Twitter, May 29, 2020.) https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/1266231100780744704.

[3]. Bracken, Kassie, and Alexandra Eaton. “How Could Voting by Mail Affect the Election? Look at Michigan.” (The New York Times. The New York Times, October 11, 2020.) https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/11/us/elections/vote-by-mail-election.html.

[4]. Ball, Molly. “How COVID-19 Changed Everything About the 2020 Election.” (Time. Time, August 6, 2020.)
https://time.com/5876599/election-2020-coronavirus/.

[5]. “Creating the United States Election of 1800.” (Library of Congress. Library of Congress. Accessed October 2020.)
https://www.loc.gov/exhibits/creating-the-united-states/election-of-1800.html.

[6]. Wang, Christine. “Trump: I Will ‘Totally Accept’ the Results of This Election ‘If I Win’.” (CNBC. CNBC, October 20, 2016.) https://www.cnbc.com/2016/10/20/trump-i-will-totally-accept-the-results-of-this-election-if-i-win.html.

[7]. Trump, Donald J. “’Rigged 2020 Election’.” (Twitter, Twitter, 22 June 2020) <https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1275024974579982336>

[8]. Itkowitz, Colby, Felicia Sonmez, Derek Hawkins, Paulina Firozi, Meryl Kornfield, David Weigel, and Amber Phillips. “Trump Falsely Asserts Election Fraud, Claims a Victory.” (The Washington Post. Washington Post Company, November 5, 2020.)
https://www.washingtonpost.com/elections/2020/11/03/trump-biden-election-live-updates/.

[9]. Trump, Donald J. “’I Won This Election’.” (Twitter, Twitter, 7 Nov. 2020) <https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1325099845045071873>

[10]. Rubin, Olivia, and Matthew Mosk. (ABC News. ABC News Network, November 7, 2020.) https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/judges-evidence-trump-campaign-election-cases-tossed/story?id=74071460.

[11] Turak, Natasha. “What If Trump Won’t Concede? The Constitution Will End His Term, Conservative Lawyer John Yoo Says.” NBC Connecticut, November 12, 2020. https://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/business/money-report/what-if-trump-wont-concede-the-constitution-will-end-his-term-conservative-lawyer-john-yoo-says/2358760/.

[12] Lampen, Claire. “Trump Admits That Biden Won.” The Cut. New York Magazine, November 15, 2020. https://www.thecut.com/2020/11/trump-admits-biden-won-refuses-to-concede.html.

Further Reading

Mara Liasson. “Why President Trump Refuses To Concede And What It Might Mean For The Country.” NPR. NPR, November 18, 2020. https://www.npr.org/2020/11/18/936342902/why-president-trump-refuses-to-concede-and-what-it-might-mean-for-the-country.

Pranshu Verma, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Sabrina Tavernise, Zach Montague, Allyson Walker, and Maggie Haberman. “Highlights From the Transition: Trump, Refusing to Concede, Cheers On Supporters.” The New York Times. The New York Times, November 25, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/live/2020/11/14/us/joe-biden-trump./

Worcester State University Fall 2020