America is hurtling toward a potential urban war caused by the breakdown of law, which could be exacerbated by what may be a disputed election.
Most polls again show that the race for the White House is close, with former vice president Joe Biden leading president Donald Trump. This is expected to be the most hotly contested election in our history.
That’s because another close presidential race, which could end as a disputed election similar to the presidential election of 2000, seems a real possibility. That election, which took months to adjudicate, ultimately had to be settled by the U.S. Supreme Court on a 5-4 vote.
By the way, this time, if the election has to be settled by the nation’s highest court, the issue could be even more complicated. One of the nine U.S. Supreme Court justices just died, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. So the court, in a similar circumstance in which a disputed election was sent to the courts, could end up locked up on a four to four vote. By the way, this comes as hotheads on both sides have said their candidate, if he loses, should not accept the outcome.
A Very Different Kind of Vote
Why could the election be disputed? This time, owing to the continuing fear or Coronavirus spreading through crowded polling places, more voters than ever are expected not to go to the polls but mail in their votes. Some are now estimating that the mail in votes, which were about a quarter in the last presidential election, could be as much as 50 percent this time. “Delayed in the mail” or “lost in the mail” could lead to disastrous consequences.
But that, many Republicans claim, could lead to widespread fraud or require months to settle who won. The latter is exactly what happened here in New York last June, it took months to determine who won a primary election. In other races in New Jersey and Nevada there were instances of fraud as millions of ballots were mailed out and “harvested” by political thieves.
You Won. No, Now You Lost
The fear, Republicans say, is that Trump could be leading on election night. Then, over ensuing weeks and months, votes could come in and change the election outcome. The machinery of voting is in the hands of each state. State practices vary on when and how they accept or disqualify votes. The side that seemingly has won on election night, could be declared the loser a month or two later.
An Election and Then Blood in the Streets?
Every honest person, right, left, independent or other, has a right to be fearful at a time of what could happen if a disputed election went on for weeks or months. Millions of aggrieved voters could take the law into their own hands.
This would come at a time when the country could have still more rioting, looting and deaths. The rioting that has been going on somewhere in the nation for almost six months. Imagine how the losing side in November, or December or January if the votes are delayed, might react? In a word, badly.
Election Fraud—It’s Happened Here Before
And, by the way, if there is a stolen election, it wouldn’t be the first time in our history. Many historians agree that Lyndon Johnson, fighting a critical election in the Lone Star State that might have ended his career, stole his way into the Senate in 1948.
Texas election officials in a few key counties kept counting and re-counting the votes until he won by 100 votes out of over a million votes. That earned Johnson the sarcastic moniker “Landslide Lyndon.” Robert Caro, in his book “Means of Ascent,” had first hand evidence of how the election was stolen for Johnson.
Johnson, of course, went on to be Senate Majority leader and later one of the most controversial presidents in our history. He led the nation into the disastrous, ill-moral and superfluous Vietnam War. This came after he won the 1964 election, avowing that he was not going to send more U.S. troops to Southeast Asia.
Johnson, in his defense, seven years before that election likely had a Senate seat stolen from him by Pappy, “Pass the Biscuits,” O’Daniel in 1941. Texas has always seemed to a wide-open kind of place for political chicanery. There were rumors that the Democrats stole Texas, and Illinois, in the 1960 presidential election. Those were two states that, if they had been taken from the Democrats and given to the Republicans, would have reversed the outcome of the election, giving victory to vice president Richard Nixon.
(Nixon, in his book “Six Crises,” says campaign officials suspected fraud but didn’t want to start a constitutional crisis in the middle of the Cold War.).
In the 20th century, we also had many instances of Big City political machines playing around with elections. These included Tammany Hall in New York City and Chicago under the mayoralty of Richard Daley and many of his Democratic predecessors. These hardball pols’ foot soldiers found votes in cemeteries and skid rows, but they usually found enough votes, living and dead, to win elections.
Disaster Around the Corner?
Making this election potentially worse is that both sides have hired tons of lawyers who could contest the outcome. That’s no matter what the election numbers say. And some partisans of both sides have said that, if their side loses, they will not accept outcome. Does this mean taking to the streets? More burning and rioting?
What should be done? Is there any way that the United States could avoid a potential constitutional crisis that could turn into civil war?
More next time.
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