At the moment I'm writing this it appears that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris received 75 million votes, while Donald Trump increased his vote total from 2016 by 8 million votes but failed to prevail over Biden, receiving 4 million fewer votes. Unlike the rest of the world we don't choose our executive on the basis of national vote counts alone. The states choose who becomes President independently. Each state is assigned weight in the national election according to its population. If a candidate wins a state — even if only by a single vote — he, or she, wins that state and all its electoral votes. There are two exceptions. Both Maine and Nebraska have independent districts, which carry one electoral vote each just because the electoral college system isn't already complicated enough. Votes are still being counted, but the presidential election is no longer in doubt.
It isn't surprising that this election is messy and protracted. You could see this coming long ago. With many states choosing to send mail-in ballots to all their voters without any experience with mail-in ballots on a massive scale, or the competence to handle it, the rest was inevitable. Votes are still being counted. For some states we may never have a comprehensive count. Add to this situation a President who has a problem accepting loss, and is fond of spinning conspiracy theories, and you have the formula for a perfect s-t storm.
Given all the factors aligned to guarantee disaster, I'm a little surprised at how well it's all been going so far. I was expecting blood in the streets by this point, but we're not out of the woods yet.
A friend asked me about the chances that Trump will be proven right, that after all the counting and recounting and culling he'll be declared the winner in the end. I told them that I'd voted for him, and wished to see him win, but not under these circumstances. If this election were overturned now it would lead to something like a civil war. It wouldn't look anything like the last one. For one thing, one side has almost all the guns. For another, there's no possible way to divide America between Red and Blue. The left has the cities and university towns, the Pacific coast, and much of the East coast. The right has the countryside and smaller cities and towns. You can't have states seceding without their principle cities, and those cities need the countryside. That may be where all the Republican votes come from, but it's also where your food comes from. Geographically it's unworkable. Let's face it; we're stuck with one another. Let's make the best of it.
We can't go on distrusting each other in the hysterical, exaggerated way we've become used to. Donald Trump, for all his many faults, was not a closet fascist or racist sending out dog whistles to his friends on the far right to "stand by" for future revolution, capture and eliminate enemy governors, or shoot at racial justice protesters. Democrats were not out to "steal" the election. They weren't stuffing ballot boxes with Biden votes. They actually believed they could win this election fairly by getting out their voters in enormous numbers. Guess what? They were right. Even if subverting the election to get their way was something they'd happily participate in, why would they try it now when they could accomplish the same ends legitimately? Electoral hanky-panky is risky business. It gets people thrown in jail, ruins careers, and puts outcomes in doubt. It's counter-productive. To heal the wounds left by this election both sides need to overcome their extreme suspicions of each other and stop listening to the demagogues who spread them, especially the ones on our own side.
Eventually Trump will accept that the election went against him. Even if he doesn't, it won't really matter. Those around him have already seen the handwriting on the wall, and will yield their positions shortly and proceed with welcoming in the Biden transition team. That doesn't have to occur immediately. My guess is that when the last state certifies its election a white flag will go up over the White House. Certification dates are preset. The last will occur on Dec. 1.
In former times they had a way to work out the passage of power. A king would die and his eldest son would be declared the new ruler. It worked sometimes, and sometimes it didn't. They had a proclamation to cover those moments when the old king had died, and a new king would take his place. "The king is dead. Long live the king!"