The election results roller coaster

The problem is that even before the elections, Trump declared that the Democratic candidate could win only fraudulently.

A TRUMP SUPPORTER holds a placard while ballots are being tabulated in Philadelphia, last Sunday.  (photo credit: MARK MAKELA / REUTERS)
A TRUMP SUPPORTER holds a placard while ballots are being tabulated in Philadelphia, last Sunday.
(photo credit: MARK MAKELA / REUTERS)
The presidential electoral system in the United States has on occasion led to some pretty messy results.
Thus in 1877 Republican Rutherford B. Hayes ended up being declared president after the previous year the election results could not be determined due to cases of fraud by both Republicans and Democrats in Florida, Louisiana and South Carolina. A split Congress was unable to resolve the problem, resulting in a bipartisan Electoral Commission made up of members of the House, members of the Senate and Supreme Court justices being set up. But for various reasons the commission ended up having a Republican majority, which decided on biased grounds that Hayes was the winner. The outraged Democrats were finally pacified with a package of significant political concessions (i.e., bribery).
In 2000 Republican George W. Bush received only 47.87% of the popular vote, but got a 50.37% majority of the electoral college vote after a recount of the votes in Florida which he won by only 537 votes, following a controversial intervention by the Supreme Court. Despite all of this, vice president Al Gore – the Democratic candidate – finally decided to concede.
The current case is different from the 1876 and 2000 cases in that the Republican candidate was the incumbent; and in the final reckoning in most of the states that were originally declared “too close to call,” the Democratic candidate, Joe Biden, ended up getting majorities, which gave him 306 electoral votes to Donald Trump’s 232. So what is the problem?
The problem is that even before the elections, Trump declared that the Democratic candidate could win only fraudulently; and when the media networks (including Fox News) announced Biden to be the president-elect before all the counting of votes had ended, Trump declared that he would not concede, and that the results were indeed attained by means of fraud.
By right Trump and the Republicans may request investigations, recounts and even reelections, but so far have not come up with any substantial evidence for significant widespread wrongdoing.
In addition, one would assume that if there were widespread fraud on the part of the Democrats (as opposed to the usual individual cases of fraud committed locally by both Democrats and Republicans), it would affect the results of all the various elections taking place simultaneously with the presidential election. But this did not happen. In fact, it was only Trump who received poorer results than expected by the Republicans, compared to Republican gains in the House of Representatives and some significant gains in various state elections.
Whether the Republicans have managed to hold on to their Senate majority we shall find out after the two runoff elections for the Senate in Georgia take place on January 5.
Yet Trump refuses to concede. Besides the fact that he might really believe that his defeat is the result of fraud, there is also a psychological element to this story.
“Running against the worst candidate in the history of presidential politics puts pressure on me,” he said at an election rally in Georgia on October 16. “Could you imagine if I lose? My whole life – what am I going to do? I’m going to say: ‘I lost to the worst candidate in the history of politics’? I’m not going to feel so good. Maybe I’ll have to leave the country....”
There is also the possibility that, a little like Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump is worried by some legal suits, tax investigations and a fifth business bankruptcy that it is said to await him once he leaves the White House and loses his presidential immunity.
While the Democrats believe that Trump’s chances to win in his current legal battles around the election results are minute, they are concerned that Trump might try to mess around with the Electoral College vote, which is to take place on December 14, thus preventing some of the certificates of the electoral votes from being delivered by the states by December 23, and preventing Congress from being able to declare the official result of the election by January 6.
If this should happen, the situation might get pretty messy, as occurred in 1877, with either Congress or an appointed Electoral Commission being called upon to resolve the deadlock, in a situation where there is very little trust between Republicans and Democrats, and the nation is in urgent need of healing and reconciliation rather than a bitter ongoing power struggle, with Trump fanning the flames and continuing to badmouth the president-elect.
THERE ARE many who believe that what Israel needs in order to resolve its own ongoing political instability and lack of governability is an American-style presidential system.
What is currently going on the US – with the question of who won the presidential election, and the possible continuation of the divided government (a president who does not enjoy the support of Congress as a whole or of one of the Houses) – is certainly nothing anyone in Israel should long for.
Besides, since there is no chance that the Israeli body politic will by some miracle divide itself into two major political parties, it is difficult to see how an American-style presidential system could possibly work here.
Under Israel’s current system – parliamentary government, based on nationwide proportional representation with no electoral districts – election results are known within a day or two of elections taking place, though it is not always immediately clear what the makeup of the coalition government will be, and occasionally it is not even clear who will be able to form a government.
The three successive elections we had since April 2019, and the fourth one, which will probably occur come March 2021, are not results of the system, but of the acts of one man – Netanyahu – who is concerned primarily with his own political survival and neutralizing the legal proceedings against him.
For these purposes he wants a very particular coalition makeup – right-wing/religious – which he has been unable to attain since the first of the three elections, largely because he managed to alienate one of the necessary components of this coalition, Yisrael Beytenu, already in 2019, and then another, Yamina, in 2020.
When he resigned himself to the idea of forming a unity government of sorts with a divided Blue and White, he did so in bad faith, as a temporary stopgap, until such time as he can initiate a fourth general election at a moment most opportune from his point of view, in order to achieve the optimal result to serve his personal interests.
Perhaps the question ought to be asked whether anything in the respective government systems of the United States and Israel could be amended to enable them to deal more effectively with conniving, paranoid leaders like Trump and Netanyahu unnecessarily causing so much havoc over elections and their results (among other things), or whether one must sadly conclude that liberal democratic systems are simply unequipped to deal with them in the short term.