Count the Votes
Now, we wait.
Everyone take a deep breath. This is far from over, despite what Donald Trump told the nation in the middle of the night.
The president took to the airwaves and falsely declared victory at 2:20 a.m., Eastern time, as millions of votes in several swing states were still being counted. It was an unprecedented announcement, but remarkably not one that surprised anybody.
Word had come out two days earlier that the president planned to do just that. He initially tweeted his fallacious claim an hour earlier, a post that Twitter flagged within minutes.
Speaking to a mostly unmasked and tightly packed indoor audience at the White House -- yet another violation of the Hatch Act -- Trump claimed victory in several states where votes were still being tabulated. He called the election, “a fraud on the American people,” during a nonsensical eight-minute speech that was immediately panned by every responsible news network.
Trump then threatened to go straight to the U.S. Supreme Court, implying that he wanted the counting of legally cast ballots to stop. If successful, that would mark a level of disenfranchisement never before seen in modern American history.
“Legally, what the president told the nation is worthless,” MSNBC legal analyst Ari Melber told a televised audience early Wednesday morning, echoing what many of his similarly outraged colleagues were saying on other networks.
Earlier in the evening, Democratic candidate Joe Biden expressed confidence in his chances. Delivering brief remarks from Wilmington, Del., he told supporters to be patient and keep the faith.
“I believe we’re on track to win this election,” Biden said. “We’re feeling good about where we are.”
So, what comes next?
Every vote must be counted. The result of this election must be legitimate. Donald Trump must not be permitted to bully his way to an illegitimate second term. If the courts hand the president a fake win, it will spark massive civil unrest in every major city nationwide. Nobody wants that, but furious left-leaning Americans are not going to just roll over for Trump.
The president wants to stop outstanding ballots from being counted in states where he’s ahead. But he also wants to keep counting ballots in states where he’s behind. Elections in this country don’t work like that. This isn’t Zimbabwe, and Donald Trump isn’t Robert Mugabe.
America’s future could come down to Republicans and right-leaning federal courts standing up for democracy. That’s a frightening thought, considering their consistent capitulation at the alter of Trump. With the Senate majority still hanging in the balance, but heavily leaning toward Republicans, it’s unlikely we can suddenly rely on them to do the right thing. One-third of the Supreme Court, meanwhile, has been appointed by Trump.
In the meantime, it’s critical that people don’t panic. Biden still has a strong chance to win enough of the undetermined states to prevail, provided all the votes are properly counted. Case in point, a large batch of votes reported at 4 a.m. local time in Wisconsin put Biden ahead in that state for the first time.
It could take days, or even weeks, before we know who will be inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2021. Until then, the world waits.
Buckle up, everyone.
This is going to be a bumpy ride.