Whatever the policy differences between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden they pale in comparison to the fear that comes with Mr. Trump’s refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power. It puts the nation’s need for social stability in jeopardy. It threatens our democracy.
The president began this narrative and his campaign is extending it by settling on a single message which is that only election-night results are legitimate.
There is little reason to believe the president will change his rhetoric. If he wins it’s not an issue. If he loses he can blame the process. If Mr. Biden continues to hold his lead in the polls the expectation is that the president will ratchet up the fear-mongering.
But this also assumes Mr. Trump controls the message. He shouldn’t, but who has the power to counter him?
The states. All 50 of them and the five territories and commonwealths. Each state places the sanctity of the vote above all else. Each state should review its voting circumstances and identify and resolve any questions before the Nov, 3 election, which is entirely doable. The basic objective is to make it clear that every valid ballot counts and that the question of contested ballots be settled through each state’s due process requirements.
This should be orchestrated by the National Governor’s Association [NGA], which is currently made up of 24 Democrats and 26 Republicans. It’s about as evenly balanced as it’s ever been. They all share the belief that their state’s votes can be counted accurately and honestly. It’s not a partisan issue. [Can you imagine Republican governors refusing to be part of this campaign, which would be tantamount to saying they had no confidence in their states’ voting mechanism?]
It’s a given each governor has his or her preference for the presidency, but it’s also a given that all governors want the voting process respected and the trust in the system to be above reproach. If the nation’s governors — through the NGA — spoke as a single group in favor of doing what is necessary to shore up this trust it would be a powerful and effective counter to the president’s ongoing battle to create doubt.
There is sufficient time for the states to get this message out. There is every reason to believe our congressional leaders would back them; it’s not a policy issue, it’s not something that splits Republicans and Democrats. Both parties hold the judgment rendered in the ballot box as something to be protected above all else.
If the states, together, would do this one thing, it would neutralize the president’s ability to question the election’s legitimacy. It would give Americans the confidence they need to weather the time between now and Nov. 3.
Who better to lead this effort than Vermont’s Gov. Phil Scott. A Republican.
by Emerson Lynn