IS IT time for Donald Trump to admit he lost? Is it better to accept a stolen election than risk a civil war?
No, this is not my obeisance to that great authority Barack Obama who blithely says Trump’s defiance is damaging democracy, although his own blatantly criminal corruption of the government in the 2016 election makes him the least qualified man in the world to say so; his hypocrisy is contemptible.
However that doesn’t make what he says altogether wrong. It is indeed arguable that US democracy is in too fragile a state to weather this fight continuing without suffering unpredictable and irreparable harm. That is if you take the last two decades of relentless and often destructive political warfare between Democrats and Republicans as a guide.
This is why I think that what was sustainable for Trump in the immediate aftermath of the November 3 election is no longer two weeks later.
It may well be that the Democrats cheated; they weren’t going to lose the battleground states again and spent four years preparing how to win. The signs of vote-rigging and fraud are compelling and deserving of proper inquiry.
It may well be too that Fox News stabbed Trump in the back and the rest of the partisan media gave him the rawest deal imaginable. His record 70million votes in face of such hostile media partisanship is extraordinary by any standards.
But the world has moved on and the fact that Joe Biden will be the next president is, for better or worse, internationally accepted. Nor is the legal process moving Trump’s way. There are too many thousands of votes to switch from Biden’s column to his. It’s 100-1 against any court in the land giving him the presidency. But that does not mean he should give it up. Chicanery where and when it exists must be exposed, if only to make it more difficult for it to happen again.
Trump has made and will continue to make this point and there are signs that he’s shifting reluctantly towards a fait accompli that he can’t avoid. If that’s true, the time for delay is over, though the messages are mixed. He has put Attorney Sidney Powell in charge of the legal challenges that remain and she says evidence is coming in thick and fast.
His own dignity and his duty towards his party which needs to win the two Senate run-offs in Georgia in January, however, dictate that Trump should play the statesman and concede.
Biden won Georgia where more than 30 per cent of the electorate is Black, and loss of these seats would cost Republicans control of the Senate, transforming a partial loss into disaster. Instead of majority leader Mitch McConnell having a bar on Biden’s options, the new president and his party would be in full command of Washington.
Trump’s priority now is to protect Georgia and try to persuade his angry supporters to help him lower the political temperature. The price of fighting every last avenue of appeal in the battle against Biden, until everyone is furious and exhausted, is an escalation of the ever-worsening feud between the two parties since the disputed 2000 election that George W Bush won against Al Gore.
The risk is that Democrats, some of them maddened out of their minds by Trump’s presidency and beset by a visceral loathing, would respond in kind. But I wonder whether they have it in them. Giving in may ease the day-to-day furies of the political process and be recognised by the electorate as the adult move to make.
Everything goes into play again in 2022 when the Republicans as the out-party have every chance of capturing all of Congress and neutering Biden that way.
Washington is abuzz with the kind of tricks the Trump campaign might try to thwart Biden. They include persuading states controlled by Republicans to select Republicans to cast votes belonging to Biden for Trump in the electoral college.
Democrats played with this idea to defeat Trump in 2016 but wiser heads prevailed over insanity.
Law professor Alan Dershowitz speculated that Republican states could simply refuse to certify the result of the election and stop Biden reaching the 270 electoral votes he needs that way. The president would then be named by the House of Representatives.
Democrats have a small majority of seats in the House but Republicans, according to the way delegations are counted, have more votes in that choice and could pick Trump.
Has anyone paused to think how the violent Left, which has been rioting across America for the last six months, would react to such an outcome and how the country and international opinion would blame Trump and the Republicans for inflicting it on them?
If the Democrats spent four years trying to make America ungovernable after 2016, imagine what would happen over the next four years if they lost after convincing themselves they had won, however they achieved it.
Trump should tell America that he believes that he won the election, which entitled him to dispute the award of victory to Biden, but accepts he no longer has the means to enforce his case in a timely manner and therefore concedes for the sake of the country.
Then he should go and lead the fight for Georgia’s Senate seats.