Trump support is reduced to a ragtag group of conspiracy theorists and political misfits

As the inauguration of Joseph Biden as the 46th president of the United States draws inexorably closer, the current occupant of the White House appears to be losing his grip on political reality.

Long-standing, hard-line Republicans in the Senate including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Lindsay Graham, the South Carolina firebrand, accept the findings of the Electoral College that Biden won by 306 to 232 votes.

Confined to the White House other than escaping for golf at one of his resorts. Trump has surrounded himself with true believers who remain glued to his contention that the presidential election was marked by fraud and that really, he had a “massive win”.

The process of government has been shunted aside. There’s barely a mention of the Covid-19 pandemic which has now claimed more than 320,000 deaths – far more than World War II combat deaths.

More than one commentator has invoked images of the last days in the Fuhrer’s bunker in Berlin in  May 1945. Continue reading “Trump support is reduced to a ragtag group of conspiracy theorists and political misfits”

Republican tide turns against Trump – now let’s see if he loses protection against prosecution

Is the Republican Party, at least at the Congressional level, preparing to dump President Donald Trump after he departs the White House on January 20?

Until two days ago, no-one in the GOP would congratulate president-elect Joe Biden.  After the Electoral College effectively elected Biden on Monday with 306 votes to 232, however, the dam started to break.

First, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, until then a hard-line Trump advocate, pronounced on the floor of the Senate that due process had occurred and Biden was the appointed president, to be sworn in on January 20.

Then in a conference call with Republican senators (they control the Senate) he and other seniors warned their colleagues against trying to further challenge the result when Congress meets to ratify the vote.  Two senators, John Thune and Roy Blunt, spoke.  They argued it would be a bad vote for senators running in the mid-term 2022 elections.  It’s no surprise that both are then up for re-election.  Continue reading “Republican tide turns against Trump – now let’s see if he loses protection against prosecution”

Trump tweets his disagreement – and supporters protest the rulings – after Supreme Court rejects latest challenges to election result

The very foundations of United States democracy have been shaken this weekend as President Donald Trump marshalled his Republican supporters – and the far right – to confront the US Supreme Court.

Twice last week the court threw out challenges by Republicans who alleged widespread voter fraud.

On Friday the court considered the second challenge, by the Attorney-General of Texas, challenging electoral results.  He accused Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin of violating their own state laws, and thereby the US Constitution, by adjusting absentee voting procedures to accommodate the surge in mail-in ballots from voters following public-health guidance during the coronavirus pandemic.

This was President Trump’s last chance to overturn election results before the Electoral College convenes today to formally cast ballots: 306 for Joe Biden, 232 for Trump.

In a brief order, the court said Texas lacked legal standing to bring the case.  Continue reading “Trump tweets his disagreement – and supporters protest the rulings – after Supreme Court rejects latest challenges to election result”

The US presidency: key dates on the path from polling day to inauguration

As readers know, we scribes at Point of Order work ceaselessly, nay tirelessly, to bring them important information.  So, for those who wonder about the next steps in the US presidential election, here are some key dates.

The first one is December 9.  States have until this date to settle any disputes of the election results including court challenges and recounts.  From the outset President Donald Trump has refused to accept the result. In fact, late on November 3, polling day,  he claimed victory.

Now he and the Republican Party have launched a basket of legal challenges to contest the result. This has brought a robust rebuttal from Democratic and Republican states whose officials have briskly defended their ballot-counting procedures.

As we know, the Electoral College decides the winner and not the public vote.  This procedure was instituted to ensure states big and small have an equal opportunity to decide the winner.

By December 15, the next important date, each state’s electors have to vote by paper ballot for the president and vice-president.  These are counted and the electors sign Certificates of the Vote.

These are despatched by registered mail to a range of officials including the president of the Senate, the upper house, and have to be delivered by December 24. 

The US Constitution provides for a “president pro tempore” of the Senate, who is the second-highest-ranking official. The vice president presides over the Senate and  the president pro tempore acts in the absence of the VP.

The penultimate key date is January 7. On this day the House and the Senate hold a joint session to count the Electoral College votes. Once one contender reaches 270, the battle is over and a president and vice president are identified.

The final date is January 21, Inaugural Day. This is generally an occasion for public rejoicing, parades and great crowds.  Guests, VIPs, justices of the Supreme Court, senators and House of Representatives gather at the capital to watch the Chief Justice swear in the new office holders.

Naturally, President Trump maintained the crowds at his inauguration were the biggest-ever although photographs of earlier inaugurations seemed to disprove this claim. By convention, outgoing presidents attend the event. Trump won’t confirm his attendance as an outgoing president.

If he misses, he will be in the company of Andrew Johnson who refused to attend Ulysses S Grant’s inauguration in 1829.  In any case, because of the Covid-19 pandemic still surging and affecting  record numbers across the US, a simple swearing-in is expected, with few guests, in the Capitol building.

Almost there – but whoever wins in the US, the politicians must make it easy for the people to cast votes

With 72.2 million votes, Joe Biden has already won more votes than any presidential candidate ever.  He overtook Barack Obama’s 66.4 million while Donald Trump scored 68.5 million.

This has been a high-scoring election. Republicans now describe themselves as the party of the working class but exit polls suggest Trump won support among voters with family incomes higher than $100,000, whereas Biden won among those who earn less.

As The New York Times reported, Republicans neutered the Voting Rights Act, purged voter rolls, shuttered polling places and kneecapped the Postal Service, preventing the timely return of hundreds of thousands of ballots. There is no way to know how many people might have voted if their government had sought to help rather than to impede them.

Republicans also sought to undermine public confidence in the integrity of the election by concocting fantasies about widespread voter fraud. And in Pennsylvania, Republicans prevented the counting of early votes before Election Day, ensuring there would be plenty of time for corrosive rhetoric and legal challenges. Continue reading “Almost there – but whoever wins in the US, the politicians must make it easy for the people to cast votes”

There’s one certainty after votes are tallied in a close presidential election: the US will remain sharply divided

Joe Biden was continuing  to inch ahead in the race for the White House at the time this item was posted, but a clear result is not expected for two days. Most recent counting has Biden with 248 Electoral College votes to Donald Trump’s 214. 

The Democrats’ “blue wall” failed to materialise, as had been predicted in the expectation that early voting would favour them in all races.   

The results so far have left the Democrats devastated and already recriminations have begun. Was Biden’s campaign too laid back and socially-distanced? Did the prospect he would serve only one term matter, because who would follow him?   Was he really too old and tired-looking compared with Trump’s manifest energy in the closing stages of the campaign?

Did Trump’s taunts that “Sleepy Joe” had had 47 years in Washington DC and “hadn’t really achieved anything” resonate strongly in the rural and old industrial states in the mid-west and south? Was his manifesto too dense and detailed, especially on labour relations (which we have already reviewed) and provide the Republicans with too much ammunition? Continue reading “There’s one certainty after votes are tallied in a close presidential election: the US will remain sharply divided”

Should liberals be voting for Trump?

You don’t come to Point of Order for a 5,000 word essay on liberalism (for that you read ‘Liberalism and its Discontents’ by Francis Fukuyama at American Purpose).

But he does have a handy definition:

“Classical liberalism can best be understood as an institutional solution to the problem of governing over diversity … The most fundamental principle enshrined in liberalism is one of tolerance: You do not have to agree with your fellow citizens about the most important things, but only that each individual should get to decide what those things are without interference from you or from the state.

And using this yardstick of containing diverse views, let’s look at some of the ways in which Trump’s Republicans or Biden’s Democrats might go should they prevail in America’s national elections next week.

Continue reading “Should liberals be voting for Trump?”

The polls point to a landslide for Biden but the popular vote is not what matters most in the US election system

Americans go to the polls on Tuesday to elect a president, senators for the upper house and representatives for the lower house. The presidential fight predominates but the other races are as important.  If we think MMP can be complicated, try the US electoral system.

All current polling suggests a landslide victory for Joe Biden in the presidential race, the Democrats in the Senate and again in the House of Representatives.  However, the outcome is not so precise.

On a summary of recent polls, Joe Biden, the Democrat candidate, leads President Donald Trump by an average 11 points and is scoring above 50%. Biden’s favourable rating stands at 46% (Trump is at 45%), and he is trusted on all issues including the economy by 45% with Trump hard on his heels at 44%.

Trump’s job approval rates are under 43% and he lags behind Biden in the three key swing states he carried in 2016 – Michigan where Biden is polling at 51% to Trump’s 44%, Pennsylvania 53% to 46% and Wisconsin 51% to 41%. Continue reading “The polls point to a landslide for Biden but the popular vote is not what matters most in the US election system”

The price of union support for Biden – legislation to shift the balance in US industrial relations

We watched the last debate before the US presidential elections. President Donald Trump was better-behaved and the presence of mute microphones made for a more moderate evening.  But apart from a few clashes on health coverage and law and order, the debate – and most of the campaign – has been policy free.

One glaring absence (for a Point of Order team preparing to relax over Labour Weekend and commemorate Labour Day) was labour law. By and large membership of unions and compulsory bargaining has been missing from the industrial relations scene in the US in recent years.

At present 27 states have “right to work” laws where unions can organise workers but individuals can opt out if they please.

South Carolina is a good example. In 2013 Boeing selected that state to erect a factory to build 787 Dreamliners in part because of the right-to-work laws.  This month it announced all 787s would be built there, taking production away from the union-heavy Everett site. Continue reading “The price of union support for Biden – legislation to shift the balance in US industrial relations”