Opinion: The election, COVID-19 and reckoning with reality

Pandemic coverage is just a springboard to my main subject — the dysfunctional national news media.

  • Friday, November 6, 2020 12:00pm
  • Opinion

By Rich Moniak

As expected, the results of the presidential election were hanging on millions of yet to be counted mail-in ballots on Wednesday morning. That didn’t stop Donald Trump from declaring he won and accusing Joe’s Biden’s campaign of “trying to STEAL the Election.”

By Thursday morning, he was desperately tweeting “STOP THE COUNT!”

In July, Trump tweeted “Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote ???” Now he wants to end it prematurely as if counting fewer ballots means hundreds of thousands of people never voted. It’s the same irrationally convenient logic that testing fewer people results in fewer COVID-19 cases.

If he wins, which is still possible at the time this writing, Trump’s overdue reckoning with reality is coming on the COVID front. A second one will happen if he were to challenge a Biden victory in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Steven Calabresi is a co-founder of the Federalist Society who staunchly supported Trump until the July tweet to delay the election. He called it “fascistic” and “grounds for the president’s immediate impeachment … and his removal from office.” Demanding that the counting of legally cast votes be stopped is an even more egregious offense against our nation.

Trump began his presidency by undermining America’s election integrity. He falsely claimed he lost the popular vote because millions of people voted illegally. Soon after the pandemic hit, he began equating mail-in ballots with an election fraud scheme being orchestrated by Democrats. We can expect this to continue even he wins electoral college because he’s on track to lose the popular vote by a greater margin than he did four years ago.

But he can’t make those votes disappear anymore that the record 103,000 new cases of COVID reported on Wednesday. Or the fact that a similar surge just forced Prime Minister Boris Johnson to announce a four-week national lockdown in England.

Johnson too ignored the evidence and advice of his experts. Unlike Trump though, his decision didn’t serve as a campaign promise that the virus was going to disappear. And Johnson couldn’t argue that the “fake news” would stop discussing it the day after the election.

With the voting over, Trump’s fictional script that the virus was never and still isn’t a serious threat can’t be a campaign strategy anyone. And convincing people he was right may mean less than the legacy he hopes to leave behind.

But try to imagine a scenario where Trump pleads for everyone to wear masks when out in public. And the shockwave he’d send through the economy by backing the closing of restaurants, bars, and churches in the many regions where the virus is surging.

How does he convey that without acknowledging that he deliberately misled voters for the sake of his reelection? Will those who trusted him suddenly drop their resistance to aggressive counter measures? How will he convince them if they don’t?

Either way, a second term can’t remove the stain already on his presidency from a massive public health failure that killed more than a quarter million Americans. Especially when tens of

thousands died because he refused to deal with it honestly.

The pandemic will likely surge even more if Biden is declared the winner. Trump won’t even try to get his supporters to realize its real. Like him, their primary concern will be challenging the outcome.

That can drag on for weeks if he pursues any of the lawsuits he’s already filed. Because unless he’s bluffing, it’ll go all the way to the Supreme Court.

I think Trump is in for a rude awakening if that’s where this ends up. The three justices he nominated to the court swore no loyalty to him. They’ll read the laws in each state and apply them in a manner that protects the rights of the peoples’ legally cast votes to be counted. They won’t condemn Trump for the many way he’s undermined the integrity of the election. But they’ll overwhelming rule to preserve it.

For a bitterly divided America, the tragic irony of such an outcome is it may be the only one where all but a few diehards accept that their candidate lost the election. And that may be the first step to healing the scourge of partisan hatred that’s flourished these past four years.

• Rich Moniak is a Juneau resident and retired civil engineer with more than 25 years of experience working in the public sector. Columns, My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire. Have something to say? Here’s how to submit a letter to the editor or My Turn.

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