By Chidanand Rajghatta
America’s founding fathers designed the vice-presidential office to be so ineffectual that its early occupants often abandoned the post. Thomas Jefferson, the second vice-president, called it “the most insignificant office ever that the invention of man contrived,” before fleeing to his estate in Monticello to pursue other interests.
When a butler asked Theodore Roosevelt where to store a White House chandelier that bothered the President with its tinkling, he replied, “Take it to the Vice President, he needs something to keep him awake.”
But in an absurd drama worthy of Beckett and Ionesco, a cohort of Republican lawmakers is attempting to subvert US election results that favored Democrat Joe Biden by arguing that vice-president Mike Pence can ignore certification of electors from “disputed” states and pick Trump loyalist electors to give the incumbent a second term.
The dirty little secret hidden in this exercise: the loyalists represent constituencies chafing at loss of white primacy to a coalition of blacks, minorities, liberals, and feminists among others who put the Biden-Harris team in office.
The effort to obtain legal cover for a vice-presidential coup to give Trump a second term has been ridiculed in legal circles and thrown out of courts — including rejection by an appeals court on Saturday. By that logic, legal experts and political pundits point out, vice president Joe Biden could have decided to install President Hillary Clinton rather than Donald Trump on January 6, 2017.
Trump himself alleged irregularities in an election where he lost the popular vote. And on January 6, 2001, Vice President Al Gore could have named himself the winner of the 2000 election which George Bush won controversially with Supreme Court intervention.
There is another catch. Some 150 Trump loyalist lawmakers, including 12 Republican Senators dubbed the “dirty dozen” by the tabloid press, are pursuing the line that there was fraud in the Presidential election, but their own election on the same day was untainted. Compounding the confusion, many Republican lawmakers, including the party’s Senate leadership, had recognized Biden as the legitimate winner.
All this will come up for play on January 6, when the vice-president presides over a joint session of Congress to recognize certification of electoral college votes from states in what has long been a ceremonial process. That process is now being turned into a divisive political spectacle that some experts are saying could have profound consequences for the Republican Party and the United States itself.
Caught in this maelstrom is incumbent vice-president Mike Pence, who calls himself “a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order.”
Despite the numbers being stacked against a Trump loyalist coup, Pence indicated on Saturday that he will support the doomed bid by a dozen Republican Senators to overturn Joe Biden’s election because he “shares the concerns of millions of Americans about voter fraud and irregularities.” Like scores of Republicans with an eye on future political prospects, Pence is also torn between loyalty to Trump and fealty to the party — and facts and numbers that will compel him to declare Biden as next President.
The political atmosphere is so fraught even within the Republican Party that a pro-Trump lawyer Lin Wood jolted the establishment by suggesting on Friday that Pence could “face execution by firing squad” for “treason” if he doesn’t go along with Trump loyalists bid to subvert the election.
Separately, Texas lawmaker Louie Gohmert, whose bizarre lawsuit essentially arguing that the vice-president could elect the President was trashed by courts, suggested the ruling constituted an incitement to violence.
“The bottom line is, the court is saying, ‘we’re not going to touch this, you have no remedy. Essentially, the ruling would be, ‘you have to go to the streets and be as violent as antifa, BLM,’” Gohmert told a right-wing channel replete with conspiracy theories and is endorsed by Trump.
Trump had called for a rally on January 6 in Washington DC, a black majority city governed by Democrats. Local officials are concerned that far-right, white supremacist groups such as “Proud Boys” will return to the District and “pick fights, create damage, damage property, and then act in a very threatening way” like they did during a mid-December rally. ( TOI )
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