Trump Lost in 2020 by a Lot Fewer Votes Than You Think

Gage Skidmore / flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Anyone who believes that it doesn’t matter whether the Senate convicts Donald Trump because he the former president has no political future hasn’t examined the razor-thin margins that produced Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory.

Biden beat Trump by 8 million votes, but when you look closely at the state-by-state results the race was much closer.

Had Donald Trump won just 43,921 more votes in three states–Arizona, Georgia and Wisconsin—the Electoral College would have been tied at 269 each for Trump and Biden. That would have thrown the election to Congress where Trump almost certainly would have been awarded a second term under Constitutional rules.

Switching 33,597 votes in a fourth state would have given Trump a victory in Nevada with its six Electoral College votes. And that would have given Trump 275 votes, five more than needed to win the Electoral College.

Think about that—just 76,518 votes were the difference between Joe Biden or Donald Trump in the White House.

Are you willing to bet our democracy on a margin that thin?

Proved Beyond Doubt

Now think about that in terms of what the House managers prosecuting the second impeachment of Trump showed in their masterful presentation in the Senate. They proved beyond any doubt, even unreasonable doubt, that Trump knew his followers planned to assassinate Trump’s own vice president, Mike Pence, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the next two people in the line of succession to the presidency.

During the siege, Trump did nothing to stop the attack. He did, however, egg on the murderous mob hunting for Pence, Pelosi and others. Indeed, after it was over, he never inquired about the safety of his running mate and he has never shown remorse for the attack.

Five people died on Jan. 6. Since then, two Capitol Police officers who engaged in hand-to-hand combat with Trump’s mob have taken their own lives.

If the Mob Had Succeeded

Had the mob that Trump spent months courting and encouraging succeeded think of where America might well be today.

Trump would’ve been in a position to take a whole series of actions to seize power including the suspension of habeas corpus, which is the right to be brought before a judge instead of being tossed in a dungeon and the keys thrown away.

Trump could have declared martial law, forcing senior military commanders into an agonizing decision about whether to follow his orders.

It’s important to remember here a crucial but not widely known fact about one of the bulwarks of our civilian control of the military. Enlisted men and women take an oath to follow the orders of the president and to defend our Constitution, but military officers take an oath only to uphold our Constitution.

Nonetheless, had the vice president and the speaker been assassinated it may have augured in favor of the Pentagon chiefs agreeing to temporarily do as Trump ordered.

Slaughter in the Capitol

Imagine if there had been wholesale slaughter of lawmakers, Capitol Police, staff and journalists. Trump could have seized power, claiming it was for the good of the republic—and the Congressional approval of the Biden’s Electoral College victory that the mob temporarily blocked might never have occurred.

In that event to complete his goal of becoming our dictator Trump would only have needed to find a way to make temporary emergency support from our military permanent.

It matters greatly for the future of our nation and its standing in the world that Trump be convicted. That requires two-thirds of Senators present in the chamber when the vote is taken.

Senators Walking Out

About 15 Republican senators walked out of the proceedings, pool reporters allowed into the chamber reported Thursday.

If those 15 and just one more stay away when a vote is taken, it would require only 56 Senators to convict Trump. That’s 48 Democrats, two independents who caucus with the Democrats and only six Republicans.

Public comments by some senators suggest six of them can be persuaded that Trump must be convicted and then, by a simple majority, barred from public office for life.

We can only hope that 16 Trumper Senators defenders decide, since they don’t think the entire proceeding is legitimate, to boycott it when it’s time to vote on conviction or acquittal.

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