As President Donald Trump undermines our systems of government and casts doubt on the electoral process, Oklahomans must take a hard look at the politicians willing to sell what is left of their souls to enable Trump’s plan to retain power.
On July 30, as Trump faced the early morning announcement of a 32.9 percent reduction in the gross domestic product (GDP), the worst since the Great Depression, he went straight to his deflection playbook.
“With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history,” Trump tweeted. “It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”
Despite constitutional protections that require an act of Congress to reschedule a general election, plus a lack of precedent for such actions even in the face of the Civil War, the flu epidemic of 1918 and the Great Depression, this scared people. It should still scare them, because even with a phalanx of constitutional scholars quelling voters’ fears of an authoritarian move against the nation, Trump was still laying the groundwork for questioning the outcome of the 2020 election.
Opinion by George D. Lang
Trump’s supporters often say without evidence that he is playing three-dimensional chess while his opponents are engaged in checkers, but his July 30 tweet was more like the dim-bulb kid who trashes the Snakes & Ladders board when he realizes he is losing. With that tweet, he signaled that if he loses the election, there is no earth that will be left unscorched.
If the election were held today, Trump would go down in a historic defeat, but polls generally tighten toward the end of election cycles. Because Trump is making unsubstantiated claims about the dangers of mail-in voting at a time when coronavirus is forcing many voters to at least consider that method, it is more likely that his argument will be successful with his followers, who will be looking for reasons why Dear Leader did not vanquish the opposition.
As Americans, we expect and demand the peaceful transition of power, but Trump does not respect societal or governmental norms. If he were to lose on election night and refuse to concede, there is ample concern that his more volatile supporters will take to the streets brandishing their Second Amendment rights.
With this in mind, Oklahomans must insist on Congressional representatives who side with the rule of law, not with a disastrous would-be leader with a dangerous dictatorial streak.
When Republican Congressional hopeful Terry Neese posts campaign signs asking voters to “Protect Trump. Vote Neese,” or when her runoff opponent Stephanie Bice says she will “stand with President Trump,” well, that’s not the job.
They are supposed to serve Oklahoma’s Fifth Congressional District and act as a check on the other branches of government, including the Executive Branch. If they are only there to rubber stamp Trump’s Mussolinian fever dreams, both Bice and Neese are already promising terms of Congressional negligence.
Sen. Jim Inhofe is so deep inside Trump’s pocket and so zealous in aligning himself with the president that he turned on his speakerphone during a July 29 dinner at a Washington, D.C. restaurant so everyone could hear Trump conspiring with him to keep Fort Lee, Virginia from being renamed. Retaining Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s name on anything except a list of historic racists is not an American priority.
Furthermore, neither Inhofe nor Sen. James Lankford even acknowledged Trump’s tweet concerning the election. Through their silence, we can only surmise that they support Trump’s anti-democratic whims.
If, in the case of defeat, Trump exhorts his supporters to take to the streets to defend his presidency, we will officially be in the throes of a constitutional crisis. If that happens, we must have strong leaders who will stand with our nation and its deeply held values. At this point, Bice, Neese, Lankford and Inhofe only want to stand with Trump.