Facing Disaster

31 July 2020


Cogito Ergo Non Serviam

Trump Can't Delay Election and It Wouldn't Help Him


Donald Trump is losing his re-election bid. He has let 150,000 Americans die by failing to act decisively on the Covid-19 pandemic and has cratered the economy as a result. A party with a backbone would drop him like a bad habit and nominate someone else. However, the Republicans have no backbone nor any moral compass anymore. The president's latest attempt to avoid being crushed at the polls was a tweet suggesting America should delay the election scheduled for November 3. He does not have the power to do that. A delay would not keep him in office in any case.

The Constitution clearly puts the power to set election day with Congress in Article I. Since 1845, federal statue has set the date as the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November of ever even numbered year. Hence, there are presidential elections and mid-term elections. To change this would require another Act of Congress, and that would require the Democratic House to agree with the Republican Senate and the White House on a change. That is not going to happen.

Even if the election were postponed by a few months, President Trump and Vice President Pence leave office on January 20, 2021. Their terms are defined by the Constitution as lasting four years. There is no provision for extending that beyond winning an election. They cannot continue in office while there is a postponement. Not even a statute that postpones the election would allow an extension of the term of office.

Instead, the order of succession established by the 1947 Presidential Succession Act says that the Speaker of the House would take over the Oval Office. This means Nancy Pelosi would be president. However, this is complicated by the fact that the House is up for election as well. A postponement would probably not allow for the election of a new House, and the terms of the old House would expire.

In that instance, the next in line is the President pro tempore of the US Senate. That is customarily the senior most member of the majority party. Currently, that is Republican Charles Grassley of Iowa. He was elected by the Republican majority on January 3, 2020. Yet, he would not become president unless the Republicans maintained control of the US Senate.

If the election were postponed beyond January 3, when the new Congress convenes, one third of the US Senate would see their term of office end, and no replacements would be elected. The current balance in the Senate is 53 Republicans, 45 Democrats and 2 Independents who caucus with the Democrats. Of these, 35 are up for election. That 35 is composed of 23 Republicans and 12 Democrats. So upon expiration of those Senators' terms, the composition of the Senate would be 33 Democrats and 30 Republicans along with the 2 independents. The Democrats would pick the President pro Tem on January 3, and that person would be acting president at noon January 20. In other words, get used to the idea of President Pat Leahy of Vermont.

Mr. Trump, of course, has no idea how any of this works. His modus operandi throughout his life has been to do things he wants to do, and if it works out, great. If it doesn't he throws money and lawyers at it. This is why his response to the pandemic has been so bad; a virus doesn't much care about money and lawsuits. His objective is simply to create a sense of psychic comfort in believing he has found a way out of his predicament. He has not.

If anything, his latest bright idea has further underscored just how unfit he is to lead a democratic nation, or any organization with a membership greater than zero.

© Copyright 2020 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.

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