POSTSCRIPT / November 3, 2020 / Tuesday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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What if Trump loses but doesn’t concede?

NEW YORK – To answer the question, we dare say that President Trump, regardless of how he comes across in the media, is too much of an American not to heed a clear call for a change of administration, if ever it comes to that.

His hints of possibly questioning a defeat at the polls — including running to the Supreme Court for relief or allowing protest marches – are, we think, just drum beats to keep his Republican followers fighting to the very last vote.

We’re not saying that Trump will lose to Joe Biden although most polls show the Democratic challenger slightly leading. But remember how Hillary Clinton lost in 2016 to Trump after she won the popular election by more than 2.8 million votes, but lost the electoral vote 227-304.

The US president is not elected directly by the people as in the Philippines, but by a majority (270) of an Electoral College consisting of 538 electors selected on the basis of the votes cast for the president in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, the national capital. See:

We reported Sunday that some Pinoy watchers here worry that a sore loser might throw a tantrum or allow his partisans to protest in the streets – along the reputed mindset of Filipino politicians that they never lose an election but are only cheated of victory.

Either way the contest goes tonight, we see the losing gentleman cooperating in the transition to the swearing-in of the new (or reelected) president on Jan. 20, 2021. So to Filipinos watching the reality show from across the Pacific, just pass the popcorn and watch.

We have been listening to commentaries on some TV networks that FoxNews, the favorite channel of Trump, has been repeating wild claims, including unverified statements, tending to lead his supporters to suspect that he is being cheated.

The possible effect on his followers, devoted Republicans many of whom readily dismiss other news outlets as dispensers of “fake news”, is their rejecting election results showing that Trump has lost. This mental conditioning is not conducive to ensuring a smooth transition.

• Work ongoing for smooth turnover

IN AN update Sunday, CNN reported that despite that dire possibility, there has been quiet preparation between the Trump and the Biden camps for months now.

Trump may have inadvertently cast doubt on an orderly transfer of power if he loses, but the preparation for one is reportedly well under way. In a wrap-up by Dan Merica, MJ Lee, Kevin Liptak and Arlette Saenz, CNN reported Sunday:

“The legally mandated transition happens every four years and ensures that, should a transfer of power be needed, the incoming president is able to use the less than three months to stand up a government and hit the ground running on Inauguration Day.

“But experts on transitions tell CNN that a possible transition from Trump to Biden — because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the differences between the two candidates and the economic downturn gripping the nation — could be among the most consequential in modern history.

“And Trump has not made the consequences of that possible transfer any less tense, regularly dodging questions about a peaceful transition of power to Biden and baselessly questioning whether the election will be fairly decided.

“But his administration, led by chief of staff Mark Meadows and deputy chief of staff for policy coordination Chris Liddell, has been working with Biden’s team to prepare for the possible handover.

“Even with the White House’s current cooperation, however, the Biden team is making preparations for potential roadblocks from Trump and his administration, multiple sources familiar with the work of the transition team have told CNN.

“Given the slew of legal ramifications, much of these preparations has fallen under senior adviser and former White House Counsel Bob Bauer. CNN has previously reported that the Biden team has assembled an expansive legal team, led by Bauer and the Biden campaign’s general counsel Dana Remus, to focus on potential voting and election issues.

“Biden’s transition team, which began its work over the summer, is a robust operation with two of the multiple co-chairs, Jeff Zients and Ted Kaufman, taking the primary lead in overseeing these ongoing efforts.

“Kaufman, a close Biden ally who has advised the former vice president for decades, is also an expert on presidential transitions: During the short time he served as a senator from Delaware after Biden became vice president, he passed a bill aimed at streamlining the transition process.”

• What, a Department of Disasters?

MONITORING in the internet the onslaught on Luzon of super typhoon “Rolly”, billed by weather bureaus as the strongest tempest to hit this year, we were aghast to learn that:

1. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said rescue and relief work is handicapped by funds running low. Why don’t they get a chunk of the P4.5-billion confidential and intelligence funds of Duterte, who seems to have gone missing since late last week anyway?

2. Duterte’s favorite aide said Malacañang wants a Department of Disaster created. Supposed administrative deficiencies have been a favorite excuse for Duterte’s failing to respond adequately to crises. After blaming the system, the administration invariably asks for more funds and emergency powers.

3. With Duterte neither seen nor heard since “Rolly” ravaged Luzon on Sunday, the tag #NasaanAngPangulo has been trending on social media. Sample tweets:

*Jai Cabajar @jaicabajar — Sana pumasok na rin ang pangulo sa Philippine area of responsibility.

*Getalife @calling_houston — Kung sinuman nakakita sa pangulo, ipagalam lang po sa kinauukulan. WANTED po sya.

*Ron @JohnronP — Apat na taon niyo na dinidisaster ang bansa, masurvive lang namin kayo, wala nang titibay pa sa Pilipinas. May awa si Lord.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of November 3, 2020)

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