A recent Stanford University study revealed that voting by mail provides no partisan advantage. That is, whether they are a Republican or a Democrat, your candidate’s chance of winning in any election remains the same no matter how many or how few of the votes are cast by mail. The result of this study runs counter to the popular notion that voting by mail is bad for Republicans. The usual reasons given for this, that people of color, who traditionally vote Democratic, are deliberately disadvantaged by the distance to polling places and other hurdles, may be why that notion has such a powerful intuitive credibility, Stanford study or no.
Whether voting by mail is bad for Republicans or not, there is a real danger in voting by mail that may prove complicated for Democrats. Imagine a scenario where, come election night, the presidential race is too close to call. It would be necessary, then, for election officials to await the result of mail-in ballots in order to decide the race. Such a delay could mean the final outcome may not be known for days after the election.
If Joe Biden were to win the election under such circumstances, the months that Donald Trump spent undermining confidence in vote by mail will come home to roost. It is impossible to imagine Trump accepting defeat at the hands of mail in ballots. It is easy to imagine that he and his followers will make considerable trouble over it for everyone.
Can Trump keep the presidency indefinitely under such conditions? No. The trouble Trump would create would be considerable to be sure, but it would not change the outcome of the election. If he loses the election Trump will have to go in January no matter what.
The irony to all this is, if Trump did manage to eradicate all voting by mail before November and then lose the election, he would have demolished his most powerful potential justification for disputing (and whining about) the outcome. Of course, it’s doubtful that Trump will be able to intimidate governors into conceding his point, and, of course, he has no Constitutional authority to abolish vote by mail in any case.
Many people who favor a third party candidate, or are bitter because Bernie Sanders lost, who wonder why voting for Biden is necessary, may now have another reason to think about. Anything short of a decisive Biden win in November is going to make trouble for everyone. Not only will Trump’s defeat be bitterly disputed by the dregs of his ignominious supporters, it will become a battleground they will continue to contend over for years and even decades afterward, not unlike what was done in the American Civil War. The closer the race, the more trouble it will make for us down the road.
This is why a victory alone, while good, is not our best path. We must not merely win in November, ours must be a crushing win, a death blow, a victory so complete as to put to rest forever the idea that Americans will tolerate another Donald Trump. Not only must we be rid of Trump, we must be rid, to whatever extent it’s possible, of any future dialog about Trump.
Champions for bad people have a habit of evaporating very quickly once their heroes are in jail. As an advocate for the women who survived the rape and abuse by Bill Cosby, I had the pleasure of watching many of Crosby’s disgusting supporters wither and die after Cosby went to prison. Putting Trump in jail is the best way to defeat Trumpism in the long run. A decisive victory will make jailing Trump easier to do as well.
When Adam Schiff warned Republican Senators that Trump cannot be trusted, that he will not and cannot be reformed, I doubt that even he knew that 100,000 Americans would lay dead at Donald Trump’s feet a mere three months later. That is the price we have paid for Trump, how quickly his leadership can turn awful for us. We must not let this continue. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.