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Elliot BenjaminElliot 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.

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Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7

Integrative United States President Joe Biden

A Journal of the Month Before the Election
and the Days That Follow It: Part 6

Elliot Benjamin

Once again, I ask myself the question: Is there any way that Trump could pull off the unthinkable in the last minute and steal the election from Biden?

Joe Biden will be inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States in one week. This marks the ending of a horrendously disturbing sequence of events since the November 3rd presidential election, culminating with the deadly violence and attempted coup to overturn the United States constitution through targeting to kidnap and/or kill a number of members of Congress in the midst of their voting to certify the election of Joe Biden as the next United States president; five people died inclusive of one policeman, and a multitude of policemen sustained serious injuries [1]. The upshot of this unspeakable murderous plot that came way too close to succeeding is that the House is now poised to vote on a second impeachment of President Trump, and it is expected that Trump will be impeached for a second time, making him the only president in the history of the United States who has been impeached twice [2]. The impeachment charge is stark and right to the point: “Incitement of Insurrection,” and consists of Trump's inciting his mob of angry supporters to storm the capitol building and his coercive subversive phone call to the Secretary of State of Georgia to try to get him to overturn the Georgia election in Trump's favor [2], [3].

I am in agreement with the undertaking of a second impeachment, but I also have concerns about the consequences of this in regard to the trial in the Senate. The logistics are such that similar to Trump's first impeachment, I do not believe there is any way that 17 or 18 Republican senators will vote to find Trump guilty, and that the Senate trial would not even begin until after January 20th, when Trump is no longer president. There is also an effort being made to remove Trump as unfit to serve as President of the United States via the 25th Amendment. But clearly Vice President Mike Pence, in spite of him doing “the right thing” and certifying the legal electoral college votes for Biden with the consequence of Pence being targeted for assassination by the Trump militant supporters who stormed the capitol [1],[4], is not going to agree to this, which immediately stops this from happening [2]. “If” it were possible to convict Trump in the Senate, this would allow for the wonderful possibility of denying him the prospect of ever holding elected office again, but I am afraid that the “if” part means that conviction in the Senate will not happen and that we very well might have to contend with Trump trying to become President again in 2024. But there is another concern that I have about holding the Senate trial, and this is directly related to enabling President-Elect Biden to do the job that so many people desperately need him to do.

If the Senate trial were to be held soon after Biden takes office, then not only could this seriously hamper the certification of all his Cabinet appointments, but it may very well hamper his ability to effectively deal with making the vaccine for the coronavirus readily available [5], and quite frankly it is this latter factor that causes me the most concern. Therefore I am in agreement with the delay tactic that House Speaker Pelosi and the House are considering, which is to hold off on sending the Impeachment charge to the Senate until Biden has the chance to set up his presidency and effectively deal with the coronavirus and the vaccine, perhaps holding off for his first 100 days in office [6]. I realize that waiting 3 months to undertake the Senate trial may seriously weaken the potential responsiveness to the Impeachment charges for both the public and some key Republican senators. However, all things considered, given the urgency of effectively dealing with the pandemic and the vaccine, plus the reality that I do not believe there is any way that the Senate would convict Trump, I believe this is a viable course of action to consider taking.

However, there are other alternatives to consider here. One alternative is a suggestion from Biden that it may possible for the Senate trial to occur “part-time,” meaning that the day could be divided into trial business for part of the day and the rest of the day for confirmations, pandemic relief business, etc. [5]. Soon-to-be Minority Senate Leader Mitch McConnell is apparently open to this idea and is checking into its legality, and incredibly is actually even open to the idea of impeachment [7]. But what I think is the most promising idea involves the 14th Amendment, which could in effect find Trump guilty of being involved in an insurrection against the United States government, and disqualify him from holding future elective office, through a simple majority vote in both the House and Senate [8]. The situation is extremely complicated and the complications are growing by the minute, but these alternatives are not mutually exclusive and it may be quite possible that Trump is impeached, acquitted in the Senate, and in a few months convicted via the 14th Amendment. Of course Trump would appeal this and it would likely eventually get to the Supreme Court, but I now at least have more confidence that the Supreme Court would not automatically rule in Trump's favor, given their recent three rulings against Trump's request for them to expedite his contentions of election fraud [9].

I believe that Joe Biden is being “integrative” true to his name. His cabinet choices indicate that he is trying to refrain from the extremes in his appointments, in either progressive or conservative directions, while including a wide range of racial, gender, and social diversity [10]. Of course this goes along with progressives, including myself, feeling a mixture of relief and disappointment, but from a wider perspective I can appreciate the urgency of Biden's goal of reducing the polarization and uniting the country [11]. Undoubtedly this is easier said than done, and radicalized far-right extremist Trump supporters are planning extended violence in the next week leading up to Biden's inauguration [12]. It is helpful that social media is finally doing something to reduce the incitement of violence from Trump [13], and it is comforting that Nancy Pelosi had a productive conversation with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who assured her that “safeguards are in place in case Trump seeks to initiate a nuclear strike” as they discussed “preventing an unstable president from initiating military hostilities” [14]. The potential for deadly violence within the United States is horrifying, but hopefully our police and national guard will prevent a tragic occurrence during Biden's inauguration.

So much is happening each and every day that at this point, as much as I would like to conclusively say that this essay series has come to an end with just a week until Biden's inauguration, I am not able to definitively say that I will not feel called upon to write a Part 7 to this series. At any rate, the events of little over a week ago, when a number of Republican senators were trying their best to get a Texas Trump appointed judge to invalidate the presidential election and about 150 members of Congress voted against certifying the electoral college votes for Biden, deserve to not be forgotten. For this reason I am including my two related journal entries below, that were written during this time period.

Thursday, 12/31/20

Today is the last day of 2020, and it has now been nearly 2 months since Election day. The January 6th congressional session where Congress certifies the electoral votes happens in 6 days, and the presidential inauguration takes place 3 weeks from today. In my Part 5 essay in this series I asked the question: “Is there any possible way that Trump could still pull off 'winning' the election?” And I ended up answering my question a week after I asked it, by concluding that “It looks more and more settled that Trump has virtually no chance of stealing the election from Biden.” [15] I answered my question nearly a month ago, which was before Safe Harbor Day and the Electoral College voting day. One would think that at this point in time there would be “absolutely no chance” of Trump stealing the election from Biden, given that the electoral college voted to give Biden 306 electoral votes to 232 for Trump. However, Trump is making a last ditch effort to make himself president again, through twisting Vice President Pence's arm to discount the swing states' slate of electors that were certified for Biden [16]. The legal experts are saying that this move has absolutely no legal or constitutional basis of support and virtually no chance of being successful [16]. But I still feel a bona fide ache in the pit of my stomach, so I figured it was time for me to write Part 6 of this essay series.

Once again, I ask myself the question: Is there any way that Trump could pull off the unthinkable in the last minute and steal the election from Biden? It is very difficult for me to understand the rationale for the lawsuit being filed against Pence before the congressional certification process even happens on January 6th [17]. From what I can surmise, the legal accusation is that Pence has not made a statement that he has the authority to discount the Biden slate of electors in the swing states [17]. This does not make any sense to me, but I am not a lawyer and I can accept that I do not understand the legal ramifications that are involved here. But what I do understand is that Trump has cut short his Florida holiday stay and is back in Washington D.C. and doing all that he can to coerce Pence into discounting the Biden slate of electors in the swing states, as well as securing as much Republican congressional support that he can to voice objections in the January 6th congressional vote if it goes in favor of Biden [16]. And this is where the ache in the pit of my stomach is coming from. From what I am putting together here, given that the court case is being decided by a Texas Trump appointed judge [17], I do not have 100% confidence that this judge will agree that the court case has no merit and dismiss the case. And if the judge does rule in favor of the plaintiffs against Trump, and Trump successfully twists Pence's arm (which may not be all that hard for Trump to twist) then this means Pence could actually declare that Trump won the election by discounting all the swing state votes for Biden.

Sure a horde of Democrats would object, and I like to think that enough of a handful of Republicans would object as well, and the declaration would likely not be upheld. But the main point as I understand it is that if the judge rules in favor of the plaintiff and Pence declares that Trump won the election then two things could happen. The first is that less than three Republican senators could vote to not accept Pence's declaration, in which case Trump becomes president. The second is that three or more Republican senators vote to not accept Pence's declaration (which is what I believe would happen in this extremely ugly situation) and then the 12th Amendment kicks in and the House elects the president. Now we are back in the one state/one vote system that has a Republican House majority that I described in Part 5 of this essay series [15], and once again Trump becomes president. So it is no wonder why I have a bona fide ache in the pit of my stomach.

There is more to the disgusting story here. There are Proud Boy and assorted Trump supported violence ready to make itself known all over the country, as well as a still possible war with Iran that Trump is moving closer and closer to, as 3 weeks left to his presidency is plenty of time for him to still institute utter chaos and destruction of our American democracy [18]. Plenty of time for him to declare martial law, following the urging of his pardoned criminal ex-national security advisor, Michael Flynn [19]. But when I think of these things, that ache in the pit of my stomach is causing me to have even more severe indigestion, so I think I'm going to end this journal entry and come back after the January 6th congressional session. In the meantime, I will be “agnostically praying” that we in the United States survive this final threat to the very basis of our whole democracy. For soon the New Year's Eve ball goes down (without the hordes of people in New York City to witness it), in spite of the horrendous pandemic that is bursting at the seams with holiday death and destruction all around us [20], and 2020 will finally be over. And a festive dinner and some wine and champagne awaits me and my wife as we watch an old musical biography and then the ball go down, which I am thoroughly looking forward to.

Saturday 1/2/21

It is just 2 days later and the Texas Trump appointed judge has already dismissed the case against Pence [21]. Needless to say I am very much relieved, and it does make me appreciate that apparently there is some semblance of democracy left in the United States, even when it depends upon conservative Republican judges to do what I believe is the right thing to do, as the Supreme Court has demonstrated in dismissing two of Trump's election fraud cases [9]. I feel confident that the Supreme Court will continue to reject whatever subsequent cases Trump files to overturn the election, as he already has filed a case asking the Supreme Court to overturn the election in Wisconsin before the January 6th congressional certification of the electoral college votes [22]. Sure Pence could still decide to discount Biden's slate of electors in the swing states and hand the election to Trump, but Pence's actions thus far are not indicating that this is likely to occur [4], [23]. At the very least, it appears that there may be deadly violence through the threatening presence of a multitude of far-right extremists, inclusive of Qanon and neo-nazi, protesting in Washington D.C. the day of the congressional certification on January 6th [18]. But I do believe that as distasteful as it is to him, Pence will do what he is legally bound to do and declare Biden to be the President of the United States on that day.

Notes/References

  1. See Wikipedia (2021), 2021 Storming of the United States Capitol. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/; Eugene Robinson (2021), We Just Saw An Attempted Coup D'Etat. Blame Trump. Blame His Republican Enablers. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com; and Umair Haque (2021), This Is What Trump Always Wanted—And There's Worse To Come. Retrieved from https://eand.co/this-what-trump-always-wanted-and-theres-worse-to-come-fd402567afdd
  2. See Manu Raju, Lauren Fox, and Phil Mattingly (2021), House Democrats Eye Quick Impeachment Vote if Pence Rebuffs Attempt to Remove Trump from Office. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com; and Laura Olson (2021), U.S. House Democrats Say They Have Enough Votes to Impeach Trump. Retrieved from https://nowhabersham.com/u-s-house-democrats-say-they-have-enough-votes-to-impeach-trump/
  3. See Amy Gardner (2021), "I Just Want to Find 11,780 Votes": In Extraordinary Hour-Long Call, Trump Pressures Georgia Secretary of State to Recalculate the Vote in His Favor. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com
  4. See Tal Axelrod (2020), Pence Refused to Sign On to Plan to Overturn Election, Lawyers Say. Retrieved from https://thehill.com; and Jeremy Herb, Clare Foran, Manu Raju, and Phil Mattingly (2021), Congress Completes Electoral Count, Finalizing Biden's Win After Violent Delay From Pro-Trump Mob. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com
  5. See Greg Sargent (2021), Can Democrats Impeach Trump Without Hurting Biden's Agenda? Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com
  6. See Dartagnan (2021), Dems Impeachment Strategy: Impeach Trump Now, Let Him Twist in the Wind, and Try Him in a Dem Senate. Retrieved from https://www.dailykos.com
  7. See Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman (2021), Mcconnell Is Said to be Pleased About Impeachment, Believing It Will Be Easier to Purge Trump From G.O.P.. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com
  8. See Zachary Wolf (2021), What's the 14th Amendment and How Does It Work? Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com; and Bruce Ackerman and Gerard Magliocca (2021), Impeachment Won't Keep Trump From Running Again. Here's a Better Way. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com
  9. See Ariane de Vogue and Paul LeBlanc (2020), Supreme Court Rejects Pennsylavnia Republicans' Attempt to Block Biden Victory. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/; Dartagnan (2020), Now That the Supreme Court Has Ruled, We Should Treat These Republicans Like the Fascists They Are. Retrieved from https://www.dailykos.com; and Alison Durkee (2021), Supreme Court Refuses To Consdier GOP Post-Election Cases Before Biden Takes Office. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com
  10. See Robert Borosage (2020/2021), Biden's Picks: The good, the Bad, and the Ugly. The Nation, Dec. 28, 2020 - Jan. 4,2021, pp. 4-5. See also: Robert Borosage, "Personnel as Policy: What Biden's Picks So Far Tell Us", Retrieved from: https://www.thenation.com
  11. See Matt Viser (2020), Joe Biden's Speech to American: "It is Time to Turn the Page." Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/joe-biden-address/2020/12/14/80c04d02-3e35-11eb-8db8-395dedaaa036_story.html; Charlotte Alter (2020), Presdient-Elect Joe Biden Vows to Usher In a Time to Heal in America." Retrieved from https://time.com/5908983/president-elect-joe-biden-vows-to-usher-in-a-time-to-heal-in-america/; Peter Wehner (2020), Biden May Be Just the Person America Needs. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com; and John Baldoni (2020), How Empathy Defines Joe Biden. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com
  12. See David Nieiwert (2021), Buoyed by Capitol Insurrection, Trump's Far-Right Cult Summons Tide of Vioence in Coming Weeks. Retrieved from https://qoshe.com/daily-kos-us/david-neiwert/buoyed-by-capitol-insurrection-trumps-far-right-cult-summons-tide-of-violence-in-coming-weeks/96850068
  13. See Shirin Ghaffary (2021), Why Twitter Finally Banned Trump. Retrieved from https://www.vox.com
  14. See Billy House and Nick Wadhams (2021), Pelosi Says Military Chief Assured Her on Trump's Nuclear Powers. Retrieved from https://www.militarynews.com
  15. 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, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5 at www.integralworld.net
  16. See Mark Sumner (2020), Trump Makes a Surprise Return to Washington, and There's No Way That's a Good Thing. Retrieved from https://www.dailykos.com
  17. See Hunter (2020), Rep. Louie Gohmert Files Lawsuit Claiming Mike Pence Has Ability To Overturn Election Results. Retrieved from https://www.dailykos.com. Apparently the Department of Justice, who is defending Pence in the case, agrees with me that the case against Pence has no legal basis to stand on. See Kevin Breuninger (2020), DOJ Opposes Republican Suit that Seeks to Have Pence Overturn Biden Election in Trump's Favor. Retrieved from https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/doj-opposes-republican-suit-that-seeks-to-have-pence-overturn-biden-election-in-trumps-favor/ar-BB1co8JS?li=BBnb7Kz
  18. See Dartagnan (2021), For Trump Supporters, Jan. 6 Will Be a shout-Out to Fascism, Eliminationism, and Civil War. Retrieved from https://www.dailykos.com; and Tom Nichols (2020), Trump Could Still Start a Last-Ditch War With Iran. Retreived from https://www.theatlantic.com
  19. See Spencer Ackerman (2020), "When the Bombs Go Off, the Blood Is On Mike Flynn's Hands": Retired Officers Blast His Calls for Martial Law. Retrieved from https://www.thedailybeast.com/when-the-bombs-go-off-the-blood-is-on-mike-flynns-hands-retired-officers-blast-his-calls-for-martial-law?source=articles&via=rss
  20. See Stephanie Adeline, Connie Hanzhang Jin, Alyson Hurt, Thomas Wilburn, Daniel Wood, and Ruth Talbot (2021), Coronavirus Is Suring: How Severe Is Your State's Outreak? Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/09/01/816707182/map-tracking-the-spread-of-the-coronavirus-in-the-u-s
  21. See Devlin Barrett (2021), Judge Dismisses Gohmert Lawsuit Seeking to Stymie Biden Electoral College Count. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/gohmert-court-filing-claims-pence-is-not-a-glorified-envelope-opener/2021/01/01/eeb6b222-4c51-11eb-839a-cf4ba7b7c48c_story.html
  22. See Patrick Marley (2020), Trump Asks U.S. Supreme Court To Set Aside Wisconsin's Election. Retrieved from https://www.jsonline.com
  23. See Tucker Higgins (2020), Pence to Head Overseas Jan. 6 Hours After Formally Declaring Biden the Presidential Victor. Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com/2020/12/17/pence-to-head-overseas-hours-after-declaring-biden-presidential-victor.html; and Asawin Suebsaeng, Lachlan Markay, and Sam Stein (2020), Mike Pence Backs Away From the Trump Election "Fraud" Train Wreck. Retrieved from https://www.thedailybeast.com/mike-pence-backs-away-from-the-trump-election-fraud-train-wreck






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