INTEGRAL WORLD: EXPLORING THEORIES OF EVERYTHING
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Publication dates of essays (month/year) can be found under "Essays".
Elliot Benjamin is a philosopher, mathematician, musician,
counselor, writer, with Ph.Ds in mathematics and psychology and the author of over 230 published articles in the fields of humanistic and transpersonal psychology, pure mathematics, mathematics education, spirituality & the awareness of cult dangers, art & mental disturbance, and progressive politics. He has also written a
number of self-published books, such as: The Creative Artist, Mental Disturbance, and Mental Health
. See also: www.benjamin-philosopher.com
SEE MORE ESSAYS WRITTEN BY ELLIOT BENJAMIN
Part 1 |
Part 2 |
Part 4 |
Part 5 |
Part 6 |
Integrative United States President Joe Biden
A Journal of the Month Before the Election
and the Days That Follow It: Part 2
It may very well end up being more like "weeks" or even "months" rather than "days," but the basic theme is that the election in all likelihood will not be "over" on Election Day.
At this point in time there is less than a week left until the election, and it has been one week since I completed Part 1 of this series . It is quite likely that the most convoluted and involved proceedings in this whole sordid affair will occur “after” the election, which is why I included the phrase “and the Days That Follow It” in the title to this essay series. It may very well end up being more like “weeks” or even “months” rather than “days,” but the basic theme is that the election in all likelihood will not be “over” on Election Day. Furthermore, 2 days ago the Senate voted to confirm Amy Coney Barrett as the new Supreme Court justice, as was expected, and this event adds an alarming set of circumstances for people like myself who believe very strongly that defeating Trump is essential to preserve any semblance of democracy in the United States , . For Trump's plan is for Barrett to cast the decisive vote in favor of whatever specific situation Trump may bring before the Supreme Court to uphold his promotion that a particular essential swing state's mail-in ballots should not be counted, and/or that the state's “electors” are legally not bound to vote in accordance with the popular vote, etc. .
And there will be a precursor to this main event, which is that in a few days, before the election, Barrett will have the opportunity to prove her Republican/Conservative strength and reason she got the job, through her vote to prevent thousands of voters from having their mail-in ballots count in the swing states of Pennsylvania and North Carolina, by voting to curtail the time period after the election in which these votes can be counted . In particular, her vote in the Pennsylvania case can have far-reaching effects in terms of enabling Trump to “steal” the election, as it is quite possible that Pennsylvania becomes the make-it or break-it state for Trump and Biden, and if Biden wins the state but the vote is close enough, then Trump can go into action with the “nightmare” scenario that has been frequently described .
At any rate, what follows are my two journal entries for the past week, as we are now in the last week before the election.
10 days until the election. Trump managed to restrain himself during the second debate, with significant help from the muted microphone, but it is questionable whether or not his debate performance will result in helping him in the election . My own take on this is that it may have helped him a bit, essentially because I think he was able to, as one commentator put it: “stop the bleeding,” which may have been enough to stop some of his tenuous supporters in crucial swing states from shifting over to Biden or not voting, especially after Biden bad-mouthed oil and Trump made the most of it at the end of the debate . And the bottom line is that Trump may not need to make a whole lot of gains if he is able to make enough small gains in a few crucial swing states in order for him to get back to his “steal the election” plans .
The drama is certainly unfolding as we move toward the “beginning of the end,” which is how I perceive Election Day. The Protect the Results movement now has over 130 organizations involved in plans to begin demonstrations all over the country starting on November 4th, in the event that Biden is declared the winner but Trump refuses to accept the results . However, I don't know how likely it is that this Stop the Coup movement  would be successful if Trump is able to create enough chaos to make the determination of the election results a function of the Supreme Court, with their newest member Barrett and their Republican/Conservative 6 3 majority. Then again, there are a number of “nightmare scenarios” that have been frequently described to illustrate how Trump could steal the election without the Supreme Court needing to be involved . Of course the way to avoid all these possible nightmare scenarios, inclusive of the election determination ending up in the Supreme Court, is for the election victory to be significant enough to prevent any far-reaching argument that the results are not valid . And if this were to occur, then all we would have to undergo is a likelihood of prolonged militia violence, such as the recent attempted kidnapping and killing of the governor of Michigan, and similar threats to the governors of Virginia and Ohio and the mayor of Wichita, Kansas, not to mention two plans to assassinate Joe Biden .
Trump's big “October Surprise” to reproduce the Hillary Clinton successful 2016 e-mail spectacle in the 2020 form of Hunter Biden apparently is not going to happen, though his base is still trying to make it into a reality , . There is also not going to be a vaccine before the election to save the day for Trump, as was made clear during the last debate . So what is left for Trump to find a way of beating Biden and securing another 4 years as President of the United States? I think Umair Haque answers this question insightfully and impactully in his own inimitable way, so I'll let him speak for himself and then hold off until we get closer to the “beginning of the end,” namely Election Day.
“After all, he is likely going to lose the votebut he still wants to win the election. How is he to do that? There are four elements that seem to form a strategy. The first is to delegitimise [sic] votingto cast doubt on its validity. . . . The second is voter suppression and intimidation, to whatever extent is possible. . . . The third is to mount legal challenges all the way up to the Supreme Courtwhich, now, conveniently, has been stacked in Trump's favor. . . . The fourth is to arm twist electorsand maybe say something like, 'look these results aren't valid.'. . . . What is this strategy best summarized as? A soft coup. . . . when the institutional levers of power are turned on themselvescourts, the rule of law, electionsin order for a minority of fanatics and fascists to seize power. . . . Where does violence fit into all this, this four-pronged plan to destroy American democracy? Not just a soft coupa hard coup, too. Real violence on the streets. Terror, done by nameless, faceless fanaticsaided and abetted by the government agencies that are already aligned with [a] fascist-authoritarian movement. The government agencies give the paramilitaries a free pass for their terrorism. . . . That is how a democracy implodes.” 
And Haque also gives some important advice about not getting overconfident that the scenarios he describe cannot happen in America:
“It's a profoundly, deeply dangerous myth to suggest that America is out of the woods. Things are looking betterbut only slightly, and only so slightly that exaggerating it brings about the tremendous danger of apathy. . . . The election is far from decided. There is every chance Trump will lose the vote, and still walk away with the election. . . . It's likely Trump won't take no for an answer. Like any abuser. That is why Americans have to be prepared to say it, over and over again, in firmer and firmer ways, until, at last, the game is over. The votes it stands on election night, will only be the mere beginning of the tests to come. Think of it as telling an obsessive, malignant, narcissistic abuser, for the first time, that you want to break upand then think how many more times you are going to have to say it, more forcefully, every time they escalate their behavior, until they finally get it.” 
It's now just a week until the election. And the immediate thing taking me up is the coronavirus. Trump visited Bangor, Maine 3 days ago and gave a rally about a half hour from my house. It was planned spur of the moment on his way back from his New Hampshire rallies, and in a flash over 3,000 people attended the Maine rally, with most people not wearing masks or social distancing. The county where Trump gave his rally has recently been spiking in cases, and I am avoiding setting foot there. And now Trump has greatly increased the number of cases and likely deaths right in my neck of the woods. This is part of a larger pattern for Trump and his rallies as the election is approaching, with at least five of his rallies resulting in cases increasing at a faster rate after Trump held his rally . There is no definitive “proof” that Trump is “causing” the increase in cases, but with Trump and his supporters dismissing safety precautions inclusive of masks and social distancing, the situation is cause for great alarm, especially given the current surge of cases all over the United States .
So the prospect of four more years of Trump fills me with my own personal death anxiety and would be a severe challenge for me to maintain any kind of hope and optimism, from the perspective of terror management theory . But I don't want to go there now. I am trying my best to maintain a positive state of mind, as the polls still indicate that Biden is significantly ahead of Trump nationally, and by a lesser margin in nearly all the swing states. It will all depend on Biden beating Trump by a wide enough margin to discount the four “nightmare” scenarios that Umair Haque described, as illustrated above. In an unusually somewhat optimistic (for him) description, Haque said the following:
“This is the only way, by the way, to stop a soft coup: decisively, before it gathers critical mass, with a demonstrative show of unity. . . . Certainty seems to be growing by the day as early voting favors Democrats heavily, especially with young people and women. . . . The chances of American democracy's survival, in other words, started from a viciously, abysmally low base. They might be improving, but they must improve still more, as much as they can, in these last few moments. Right about now, they might be around 50%, maybe even 60%, if America's lucky. And yet that's not high enough. You wouldn't gamble your life savings on an even chance, would you. , , , Don't get complacent. This election's far from over.“ 
But the next day Haque returned to his more somber analysis of the situation:
“Months of mayhem and chaos may well lie ahead. America's electoral design has a fatal flaw, the electoral college. Not just its representation, but also, in this case, it's timing, laws, and the way it's free not to align with the popular vote. . . . Prepare for a long fight ahead. One that will only begin, really, on election night. After that, American democracy will be tested every which way it can, by the party that has put power over democracy and authoritarianism over country. This is serious. An even chance or worse of watching your house burn down is not something you'd be comfortable or happy living withand that's just where American democracy is right about now.” 
I'm not expecting a whole lot to change between now and Election Day. I agree with Haque that unless Biden wins big, the ugly scenarios will begin in earnest right after the election, and they may very well go on in their ugliness for nearly 3 months, until Inauguration Day, by means of claims of ballot fraud, “faithless electors,” and suffocating continuous court proceedings that end up in the Supreme Court with their now 6 3 Republican/Conservative majority, supplemented by continuous outbreaks of violence . Yes the nightmare scenarios could result in Trump “winning” the election and getting 4 more years. However, I am still choosing to think positive here, and in this context I appreciate the following perspective of a progressive author who refers to himself as Dem.
“If the margin was very narrow, then Trump and Republicans might be able to find a way to retain power. However, when Biden wins by eight or more points, they they can't. . . . Biden's lead is over eight points and he is over 50% at 50.9% in Michigan. . . . Let's review. The Republican party has shrunk since 2016. They have turned suburban voters, especially suburban women, against him. Trump has lost millions of older voters, both due to death and flipping to supporting Biden at least in large part due to his mishandling of the novel coronavirus. His approval rating has been horrible and has not improved. . . . Clinton lost double haters by 17 points whereas Biden is winning them by 50 points. . . . Biden has a positive favorability and Trump has a negative twenty two (-22!) point approval rating.”
Dem then continues with for me was some uplifting statistics and argumentation:
“The economist. . . has Biden's probability of winning each of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania as above 90% and 538 has Biden's probability of winning Pennsylvania as at 85%. . . . It is not 2016. Trump was not the incumbent then. Trump had not mismanaged the pandemic leading to 300,000 dead Americans and a wrecked economy in 2016. . . . If one says that Trump's cheating can overturn our cumulative voting, then one is removing the rationale for us voting. . . . I don't mind writing here that Joe Biden/Kamala Harris are going to win this election. They will win the electoral college. They will win all three of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. . . . In light of all of this data and context, Biden is going to win by a margin too large for them to be able to cheat their way to victory.” 
And in conclusion of Part 2 of this essay series I will say that unless I have anything significant to add in the next week, I'll be holding off on Part 3 until after the election.
Notes and References
1) See Elliot Benjamin (2020), Integrative United States President Joe Biden: A Journal of the Month Before the Election and the Days That Follow It: Part 1. Retrieved from www.integralworld.net/benjamin112.html
2) See Devan Cole, Ariane de Vogue, & Caroline Kelly (2020), Trump's Taxes, Election and Abortion Cases Await Amy Coney Barrett in her First Week. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2020/10/26/politics/taxes-election-abortion-amy-coney-barrett/index.html
3) See Umair Haque (2020), Are These the Last 14 Days of American Democracy? Retrieved from https://eand.co/are-these-the-last-14-days-of-american-democracy-18b2964f2513; and Elliot Benjamin (2020), Could Trump “Steal” the Election? An Integrative Perspective. Retrieved from www.integralworld.net/benjamin110.html, and the references therein.
4) See Eric Bradner & Kevin Liptak (2020), 7 Takeaways From the Final Trump-Biden Debate. Retrieved from https://www.gwinnettdailypost.com/cnn/cnn_politics/7-takeaways-from-the-final-trump-biden-debate/article_abf8ed46-6740-5cb9-902d-12ec1357a81b.html; and Bill Barrow & Zeke Miller (2020), 7 Takeaways From the Final Presidential Debate. Retrieved from https://www.boston.com/news/politics/2020/10/22/debate-takeaways-trump-gets-personal-biden-hits-on-virus
5) See the Protect the Results website at https://protecttheresults.com/
6) See the Choose Democracy website (2020), 10 Things You Need to Know to Stop a Coup. Retrieved from https://choosedemocracy.us/prepare/#.X4H2bdBKjcs
7) See Umair Haque (2020), Don't Get Complacent. This Election Is Far From Over. Retrieved from https://eand.co/dont-get-complacent-this-election-is-far-from-over-b3a0706a5235
8) See Mark Sumner (2020), Trump Followers Just Want To Kidnap a Governor, Even If They Have To Go After a Republican. Retrieved from https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/10/23/1988993/-Even-a-Republican-governor-isn-t-safe-from-Trump-followers-on-an-anti-good-government-rampage; Christina Morales & Michael Levinson (2020), Man Arrested After Threatening Wichita Mayor Over Face Masks, Police Say. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/18/us/wichita-mayor-masks-threat.html; and Mark Sumner (20200, Plot That Brought Would-Be Assassin to Biden's Home Revealed, As List of Violent Threats Grows. Retrieved from https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/10/23/1988907/-Another-white-van-another-Trump-supporter-with-a-plan-to-kill-Joe-Biden-and-Kamala-Harris
9) See Tyler Durden (2020), Senate Demands Hunter Biden Turn Over Bank Records Wire Transfers Account Balances and Travel Records. Retrieved from https://www.zerohedge.com/political/senate-demands-hunter-biden-turn-over-bank-records-wire-transfers-account-balances-and
10) See Kerry Eleveld (2020), Trump Goes Full Superspreader As Nation Hits All-Time High For New Infections. Retrieved from https://qoshe.com/daily-kos/kerry-eleveld/trump-goes-full-superspreader-as-nation-hits-all-t/89109160
11) See Mark Sumner (2020), The United States Breaks All-Time Record for Cases of COVID-19, and There's No Peak In Sight. Retrieved from https://m.dailykos.com/stories/2020/10/24/1989212/-The-United-States-breaks-all-time-record-for-cases-of-COVID-19-and-there-s-no-peak-in-sight
12) See Sheldon Solomon, Jeff Greenberg, & Tom Pyszczynski (2015). The Worm At the Core: On the Role of Death in Life. New York: Random House; and Elliot Benjamin (2020), Self-Logotherapy, Mindfulness Meditation, Terror Management Theory, the Coronavirus Pandemic, and the Trump Presidency. IAR Journal of Humanities & Social Sciences, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp. 165-173.
13) See Dem (2020), Trump Won't Be in Power After Jan 20, 2021disagree? Say so. I'm Done w/CT Here. Retrieved from https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/10/27/1989913/-Trump-won-t-be-in-power-after-Jan-20-2021-Disagree-Say-so-I-m-done-w-CT-here