By David E. Hubler
Contributor, In Homeland Security
If the remaining four-fifths of the 21st century are as filled with as many disruptive events as the first 20 years, historians – especially presidential scholars – will have enough to write about for a lifetime, or perhaps two.
From the start of the first decade of the new century, we witnessed the worst domestic terrorist attack in U.S. history when two hijacked passenger planes flew into the Twin Towers in New York City on September 11, 2001, toppling both structures and killing more than 3,000 innocent victims.
Get started on your Homeland Security Degree at American Military University.
Throughout the decade and into the current one, we’ve seen shootings, rioting and mass protests that have pitted radical rightwing bigots against hard leftwing forces for social change.
Now we’re in the midst of the worst public health crisis in 100 years. The COVID-19 disease caused by the coronavirus pandemic is responsible for 9.5 million cases and more than 234,000 deaths. The disease has changed the way we live – for how long nobody knows.
The American Electorate Has Split into Two Ideological Camps with No Reconciliation in Sight
Politically, as if struck by a great seismic shift, the American electorate has split into two ideological camps with no reconciliation in sight.
In 2000, a knotted presidential election was eventually decided weeks after Election Day. That’s when the U.S. Supreme Court halted a statewide Florida vote recount with Republican nominee and former Texas governor George W. Bush leading former Democratic vice president Al Gore by a mere 537 votes.
The 5–4 Supreme Court decision effectively awarded Florida’s 25 votes in the Electoral College to Bush for a 271-266 win. Out of legal options, Gore conceded on December 13. Bush became the first president since Benjamin Harrison, in 1888, to lose the popular vote but win the general election. Nationwide, Gore received 50,999,897 (48.38%) to Bush’s 50,456,002 votes (47.87).
Sound familiar? Couldn’t happen again in a million years? How about in 16 years?
On November 8, 2016, in a major upset, Republican businessman Donald Trump and Indiana Governor Mike Pence defeated the Democratic ticket of former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and U.S. Senator from Virginia Tim Kaine.
Clinton received about 2.9 million more votes nationwide than Trump, for a margin of 2.1% of the total cast. Trump, however, triumphed in the Electoral College with 306 pledged electors out of 538. So Trump become President of the United States on January 20, 2017, and that ideological split only widened.
Here in 2020, instead of the Niagara-like roar of a landslide that both parties had hoped for, we are witnessing instead the soft, steady flow of democracy in action. Vote counting continues apace. But that democracy is being sorely tested by “a pronounced polarization,” as Philip Rucker and Robert Costa write in The Washington Post.
“This is democracy at full work, but clearly very divided,” Jim Doyle, former Democratic governor of Wisconsin, told Rucker and Costa. “We are clearly very, very divided by cities and rural [areas], we’re clearly divided by race.”
Doyle added, “This is a challenge of leadership that has been building for some time.”
President Donald Trump Is Perilously Close to Being Denied a Second Term
As of Thursday morning, President Donald Trump is perilously close to being denied a second term while former vice president Joe Biden is figuratively on the doorstep of the White House. To enter for the next four years, he needs just a small push from one or more of the few remaining undecided states – Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia or Nevada.
Biden has locked up 253 Electoral College votes and needs just 18 more to reach the clinching number of 271. Trump had 214 committed electors and is seeking court-ordered recounts in some states. His lead in Georgia had narrowed to 23,000 votes, or 0.5 percent, by Thursday morning.
Under Georgia election law, a candidate may request a recount if the margin is 0.5 or less.
Trump supporters in Georgia have promised to file lawsuits in a dozen or more counties aimed at invalidating votes. The first case, filed in Savannah on Wednesday, was an effort to chisel away 53 ballots that Georgia Republicans said had arrived too late to be counted.
Trump also wants a recount in Wisconsin.
Under Wisconsin law, a recount can be requested if the margin between the leading candidates is less than 1 percent, and Trump’s campaign manager, Bill Stepien, said that the campaign would “immediately do so,” The New York Times reported. Biden currently leads in Wisconsin by 0.6 percentage points. So “The president is well within the threshold to demand a recount,” Stepien added.
Trump’s personal attorney and campaign legal point man Rudolph W. Giuliani on Wednesday told the Washington Times that Democrats were “perpetrating a massive voter fraud in Pennsylvania and he announced a lawsuit challenging the vote count.”
The former mayor of New York City stated that “ballots were popping up from all over the place, Trump campaign election observers were prevented from observing the count and at least 100,000 ballots did not get checked by observers.”
Without offering any proof, Giuliani added that “it was inconceivable that Mr. Trump could be 500,000 votes ahead with more than 80% of the votes counted and not be declared the winner in Pennsylvania.”
And so we continue to count votes for the future, yet “borne back ceaselessly into the past.”