US 2020 Election: Never ending story

Three new chapters of the story playing out:

  • Partisan reactions to Trump call Georgia Sec of State
  • Georgia Senate Elections
  • The Presidential Confirmation Soap Opera

On display is the huge disconnect between sides, and in general a lack of ‘theory of mind’.

 Theory of mind as a personal capability is the understanding that others have beliefsdesiresintentions, and perspectives that are different from one’s own.

Theory of mind

Partisan reactions to Trump call Georgia Sec of State

Background

Trump together will legal advisors placed a call to the Georgia secretary of state, during which Trump requested the Georgia secretary of state find 11,779 votes in order to change the declared winner of the state from Biden to Trump.

The full transcript of the call is available here.

There are three possible interpretations of the call.

  1. My View: Trump is one of the 50% of Americans who actually believe the election was stolen
  2. Democrat View: Trump is seeking to illegally pressure the Georgia secretary of state to overturn the will of the people
  3. Some Republicans: Trump is seeking justice

My View: Theory of Mind.

It is generally acknowledged that close to 50% of Americans believe that the US election was ‘stolen’. Donald Trump is in a different situation to this 50%, as he has direct access to official reports and analysis that should make clear what is real. Despite this, the evidence suggests to me that Trump still has as much difficulty differentiating stories from social media from more creditable sources as anyone. I am not alone in this conclusion.

Abrams leaned into the discussion of divining Trump’s personal motivations by noting that “intent” matters when it comes to the legal system.

“If he truly believes that he won the election, then it’s harder to demonstrate criminal intent,” Abrams noted. “I have to say, after listening to the tape, I start to think he actually believes that he won. And that’s why I wanted to get you. . . to say do you think that’s the case?”

“I think he’s a pathological narcissist,” Cohen replied. “One of the things Donald has always believed in is the Stalin approach, that the more you say something over and over again, the more people will believe it. He has now gone past that line. He has now convinced himself that there is something that is keeping him from his second term and that he is the rightful winner of this election.”

Cohen added that contributing to that self-delusion is an egotistical blind-spot by Trump that cannot process losing to someone he mocked as the worst presidential candidate of all time.

“So you do you think he’s convinced himself that it’s true?” Abrams followed up.

“I do, I do. Yes, I do,” Cohen affirmed. “There’s no other way he can explain to himself — remember Donald Trump has three friends in the whole world: me, myself, and I. And there’s no way he can express to himself that he’s a loser, and that Joe Biden won. It goes against his essence, just his core, and he needs to rationalize something to explain this loss.”

mediate.com

If the transcript is read with the view that Trump believes all he is saying, then this is a call from a deluded president who is desperate to have the Georgia secretary of state see his perspective. The desperation is for the secretary of state to find sufficient votes from amongst those the Donald Trump genuinely believes are there.

Under this interpretation, Donald Trump is not attempting anything illegal, because he believes those votes do exist, and he believes that the will of the voters is currently being denied.

Also under this interpretation, Donald Trump is clearly deluded. Arguably even delusional:

Psychiatry. maintaining fixed false beliefs even when confronted with facts, usually as a result of mental illness

Dictionary.com

However, I have not heard protests that this call suggests Donald Trump is delusional and not fit to govern, instead there is an overwhelming outcry that based on the assumption that Donald Trump is not delusional.

Democrat View

Many Democrats have a different view. If you see the world as the some Trump critics do, then it is not possible to consider Trump actually believing he won the election. Thus, Trump is trying knowingly trying to overturn the will of the electorate, and deep down he knows all his stories of voter fraud are fabrications. This also means Trumps know these votes he is asking the Georgia Secretary of state to ‘find’, do not actually exist, and therefore Trumps is requesting these votes be invented in what clearly would be an illegal act, and that ‘find’ is code for ‘fabricate’.

Georgia state law includes two provisions that criminalize “solicitation of election fraud” and “conspiracy to commit election fraud.” Trump’s detractors also pointed to a federal statute that criminalizes “the procurement, casting, or tabulation of ballots that are known by the person to be materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent.”

Anthony Michael Kreis, a Georgia State University law professor, said: “The Georgia code says that anybody who solicits, requests or commands or otherwise attempts to encourage somebody to commit election fraud is guilty of solicitation of election fraud. ‘Soliciting or requesting’ is the key language. The president asked, in no uncertain terms, the secretary of state to invent votes, to create votes that were not there. Not only did he ask for that in terms of just overturning the specific margin that Joe Biden won by, but then said we needed one additional vote to secure victory in Georgia.”

Politico

It is clear this is based on the assumption the Trump is requesting fradulent invention of votes, as opposed to to the ‘finding’ or ruling votes that Trump mistakenly believes are fraudulent ineliggible, and thus on balance, finding the number of votes required.

This is a very different perspective to the ‘theory of mind’ view.

Some Republicans: Trump is seeking justice!

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the staunchly conservative freshman from Northwest Georgia, told CNN that she is traveling with Trump to the state on Monday. She attacked Raffensperger when asked if she had any concerns about Trump’s call to the Georgia secretary of state.

“I think our secretary of state has failed Georgia,” Greene said. “I believe our elections should be decertified.”

House Republicans rush to Trump’s defense over Georgia call as Democrats prep censure resolution

The word ‘rush’ may not be well supported, but the number of Republican members of congress and the senate who plan to challenge the election result is significant. This is despite the fact all these people believe they themselves were fairly elected, and no failed candidate for congress or the senate to my knowledge has come forward claiming they also lost due to fraud.

Georgia Senate Elections

As I type this, the senate run-off election results for Georgia are being tabulated. This run-off is interesting for three reasons:

  1. it will determine which party has control of the senate
  2. republicans have potentially sabotaged their own efforts
  3. a measure of Republican vs Trump support

“There’s no way we lost Georgia,” Mr. Trump said when he walked onstage, calling the election “rigged.” “I had two elections. I won both of them,” Mr. Trump falsely told the cheering crowd.

Mr. Trump insisted that he and his allies will keep fighting, wrongly suggesting that Democrats will not take the White House, although Mr. Biden will become president on January 20.

CBS News January 5 : Trump pushes baseless voter fraud claims at Georgia rally

Reason 1 is obvious, and it is #2 that is most interesting. Donald Trump held campaign rallies, but during those rallies cast doubt over the validity of elections in the US, which has inspired campaigns to boycott voting in the election.

Far-right protesters had been calling for a boycott even before right-wing activist Vincent James Foxx took to the steps of the Georgia Capitol last week to tell “Republican traitors” who are not trying to overturn the election that “we will not be willing to show up for them.”

The Hill

Despite appeals to voters to participate, it is unclear if Trump desires the Republicans to win, or to be punished.

What does it mean if Republicans do win, despite losing the state in the presidential election. The trends in Georgia favour the state to become increasingly democrat, however there seems to be split between Trump driving increased support for republicans in house and senate, yet not all not all of that increased support actually liking Trump himself. It seems that Trump helps the pendulum move to the right, but in doing so, does not himself win the middle ground.

The Presidential Confirmation Soap Opera

The Normal Process.

Normally, the joint meeting of the US houses of parliament to confirm the results of the election is a formality. I say ‘normally’, as the last time the confirmation process was anything but a formality was in 1824, and that was because there were more than two candidates, with no candidate having the required number of votes. The confirmation process has never overturned an election result.

That does not mean objections do not occur. Following the 2016 election a number of democrats in congress raised objections, however these was not supported by the senate, and were not even debated. However, objections have previously been supported by a senator, as required for the objection to be heard.

The lawmakers say there is a precedent of Democrats objecting to election results in 1969, 2001, 2005 and 2019. “And, in both 1969 and 2005, a Democratic Senator joined with a Democratic House Member in forcing votes in both houses on whether to accept the presidential electors being challenged,” they said.

fox news

While it is not uncommon for their to be objections, however these are normally political statements with no intent to impact, or reject, the tabled result.

Jan 6th This Year.

The Call for an Audit.

This year it is clear not only will there be objections, but there are also indications that the goal of these objections is to reject the result. There are many reports on how this cannot have the numbers as, support the the objections will not reach a majority in either the senate, or congress, yet to succeed, both houses must support the objections.

So, what is the point of the objections? Is it just and even more significant posturing than normal, or is there some hidden plan?

A group of GOP senators led by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, will object to the Jan. 6 certification of the presidential election results next week unless there is an emergency 10-day audit of the results by an electoral commission.

Cruz and the other senators claim the Nov. 3 election “featured unprecedented allegations of voter fraud and illegal conduct.”

fox news

 “Voter fraud has posed a persistent challenge in our elections, although its breadth and scope are disputed,” the lawmakers said Saturday in a statement. “By any measure, the allegations of fraud and irregularities in the 2020 election exceed any in our lifetimes.”

fox news

Note, both of these quotes speak of allegations of fraud, not fraud itself. While there has been no substantiated fraud, there have definitely, been allegations. It may seem a big jump from unsubstantiated allegations to an emergency 10 day audit that would bring unprecedented delay of the confirmation of the election result, but these are the days of ‘unprecedented’.

“In 1877, Congress did not ignore those allegations, nor did the media simply dismiss those raising them as radicals trying to undermine democracy,” the lawmakers said in the statement. “Instead, Congress appointed an Electoral Commission — consisting of five Senators, five House Members, and five Supreme Court Justices — to consider and resolve the disputed returns.”

“We should follow that precedent. To wit, Congress should immediately appoint an Electoral Commission, with full investigatory and fact-finding authority, to conduct an emergency 10-day audit of the election returns in the disputed states. Once completed, individual states would evaluate the Commission’s findings and could convene a special legislative session to certify a change in their vote, if needed.”

If that doesn’t happen, the senators intend to vote against certification.

“Accordingly, we intend to vote on January 6 to reject the electors from disputed states as not ‘regularly given’ and ‘lawfully certified’ (the statutory requisite), unless and until that emergency 10-day audit is completed,” they said in the statement.

fox news

Comparison with 1877 and the aftermath of the civil war is an interesting one, but such a commission was negotiated, and did decide the outcome of the election along party lines.

Since a similar audit cannot take place in the less than 10 days available between the request and Jan 6, this allows the disputing results as ‘not certified’, as opposed to needing to claim there was fraud. Those who vote against certifying results are then technically not claiming there was fraud, but rather claiming lack of adding a special step to disprove fraud. The vote will still likely fail due representatives seeing no real justification for the audit.

Debate can take two hours. Is that one block of two hours, or two hours per state? If that is two hours for each disputed state result, it could technically take 100 hours!

The Role of the Vice President.

Trump seems to feel Mike Pence can, alone, block the results being certified. However, it appears Pence informed Trump that he can’t block Biden’s win. Instead, Pence has now indicated support of Ted Cruz-led effort by lawmakers to block certifying Biden’s win.

Certainly a game of cat and mouse, likely driven purely by the politics of creating appearance, fear uncertainty and doubt. Most of all, the goal is to drive outrage, to created an enraged voter base.

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