The Atlantic is concerned that Americans don’t have enough to panic about from the cratering economy, the months-long shutdown, rampant unemployment, and the possibility of contracting a deadly disease. No, no, that’s not quite enough fear. So, how to drum up some more of it? Well, why not grab a left-wing professor of political science from the University of Maryland and have him pen a fantasy-laden piece about “how Donald Trump could steal the election”? Sure, why not. Gotta get those clicks.
“This is not a president who cares about the sanctity of the electoral process. After all, he has never seemed particularly concerned about Russia’s efforts to manipulate the 2016 outcome (presumably because they were on his behalf), and he was impeached for demanding Ukrainian help in his reelection efforts,” writes Professor Jeffrey Davis, apparently yet to realize the full extent of those previous hoaxes.
Realizing, perhaps, that referencing Russia and Ukraine doesn’t build the same argument that it might have in an earlier day, Davis attempts to bolster his case with a smattering of weak evidence: Trump has joked about staying in office past his term limits, he’s “embraced authoritarian leaders and policies,” (citation needed), and the Republican Party “has displayed a willingness to bend the rules for its own political gain.” By this last, he means that the GOP has been at the forefront of demanding Voter ID laws and cleaning voter rolls of dead citizens.
Okay, so we’re sure that this menagerie of idiocy is enough to convince the average Atlantic reader that Trump and the Republican Party would be willing to cheat to win the election. In fact, Davis probably could have skipped that whole part because readers undoubtedly came to the article already prepared to believe that hypothesis. The question now is: How would these evil Republicans achieve such a goal?
Well, Davis explains how the Electoral College works for those uninitiated, and then concocts his grand fantasy:
Today, all 50 states grant their residents the right to vote for president, and the people’s vote determines which electors from each state will select the next president. However, any state could change its law and instead allow its legislature to decide which electors will choose the next president.
In other words, states have a lot of power in deciding how the election will run. Today, Republicans control 30 state legislatures and Democrats only 19, with one state divided. (Nebraska technically has nonpartisan legislators, but it is a reliably red state, so I include it with the Republican states.) These red-state legislatures control 305 electoral votes, and only 270 are needed to secure the presidency. Presumably, most red states, if not all, would appoint electors who would elect Trump for another four years. Of those 30 states, 22 also have Republican governors, which means in those states there would be no Democratic governor to veto Republican legislation taking away the people’s opportunity to vote for president. Those 22 states represent 219 electoral-college votes—perilously close to the 270 required for Trump to be reelected.
Before you start shuddering at this scheme, you might want to remember that actually, back here in the real world, nothing has happened. Nothing at all. There has been no talk of canceling the November election. There has been no talk of anything. This is just some professor with too much time on his hands now that his favorite bar is closed. Somehow, The Atlantic thought his ramblings were good enough to publish. Good enough to publish? Oh, good enough to include in their “Battle for the Constitution” series, no less.
Which, of course, would be more aptly titled the “Battle to Turn Trump into a Dreadful, Fictional Monster” series. And on that point, you’re doing a hell of a job, guys.