Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Executive News: Four weeks out, all is well … ?

… umm … maybe. Maybe not.
The upcoming election is about four weeks away. This year has been interesting/challenging, to say the least. That being the case, I have just a couple of quick election-related observations.
The Trump Administration seems to be in the crosshairs of this dreaded COVID-19 virus: First it was Hope Hicks; then it was the president and the first lady; now

Photo of Roger M. Beverage
Roger Beverage, OBA President and CEO

it’s Kayleigh McEnany (press secretary), all of whom have tested positive for the virus. Fortunately, these folks have had only minimal symptoms as this issue of The Oklahoma Banker goes to press.
By the time you’ve read this, there may be others from the Trump Administration who have also tested positive. The president may have sustained a relapse of the disease. Hopefully, none of those things will happen, and I pray for everyone who has been infected by the virus, asking My Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, they will be healed.
This is the first modern-day president who’s been infected with a potentially deadly virus. Moreover, it’s a deadly virus about which we actually know very little. Yes, the president has gone back to the White House, but there’s no evidence he has been healed, and his doctor’s press conference was not very encouraging.
OK. My first question is, so now what? What happens next?
The president has left Walter Reed hospital, but do we know whether he’s been “cured,” or is our knowledge or understanding something less than that?
Who’s been making the decisions that affect the country (remember when President Reagan was shot and was hanging on by a thread, but the 25th Amendment was never invoked?) I assume it’s been President Trump, and all is well. But …
Assume the president beats the virus. Does he continue his campaign in the form of big rallies, or does he scale it back just a bit as he continues his recovery?
What impact will his decision have on the eventual outcome?
How long will it take him to return to full-time campaign mode – or will he even be ready within the next four weeks?
Will he go ahead with the next two debates, or will they be changed to virtual events?
While it doesn’t appear likely, what happens if the president dies between now and election day? His tweets and the doctors’ statements suggest he’s on the mend, but that actually highlights the problem – as I said, no one knows very much about this deadly virus.
I’ve thought up all sorts of hypotheticals like this last one, but I don’t have any answers to any of the possible outcomes; no one does. And that reality just adds more uncertainty to this year’s election season, at all levels.
That having been said, here’s what I believe is the scary part: What happens if neither Trump nor Biden have the necessary 270 electoral votes in their respective columns on or shortly after Nov. 3?
I know that’s a crazy hypothetical, but because of the delay in counting mail-in ballots, I think it’s a possibility. If it happens, here are my questions:
What‘s the process for counting all of the mail-in and absentee ballots in each state?
When do you start the actual process of counting these ballots in each state?
How many of these ballots will there be and how long is it likely to take in each state?
What happens if the processes for counting these absentee and mail-in ballots takes more time than we think it will?
When will we know all mail-in and absentee ballots have finally been counted?
There are likely to be many challenges to and disagreements over ballot validity filed in both state and federal courts, all of which will eventually reach the Supreme Court. Remember the Florida recount in 2000?
How long do we wait for outcomes to be determined in each state?
The 20th amendment provides the president in office on Jan. 20 of the year after a presidential election will leave office at noon on that date, and the newly elected president will be inaugurated.
So – what happens if we haven’t resolved the final election results numbers by Jan. 20? In other words, what happens if there is no clear electoral vote winner by that date?
Does the decision then go to the House? (In that circumstance, each state gets one vote, and there are more “red” states than there are blue states).
On the other hand, assume one of the two candidates has received the necessary number (270) of electoral votes to win the election.
Will the other candidate, be it either Trump or Biden, reject the “final” tally because their respective campaigns assert the process is terminally flawed or otherwise not accurate or legitimate?
Will either of them bring a lawsuit to have the decision about who won ultimately made by the U.S. Supreme Court?
What will the Court say, and will its makeup include “Justice” Amy Coney Barrett when the case is argued?
Then there’s the question of which party will control the Senate – will it be Majority Leader McConnell or Majority Leader Schumer? Could the same thing happen with one or two unresolved Senate races before the first of the year? The “old” ones are gone, and the new ones are to be sworn in on (roughly) 1/3/2021.
For example, say it’s 49 Republicans and 49 Democrats in the Senate who are all clear winners by the end (mercifully) of 2020. The Iowa and Colorado Senate races are “too close to call,” and recounts and lawsuits are plentiful in each state. Then what do we do in early January when the 117th Congress is gaveled into session?
I assume my ramblings and hypotheticals are nothing but pure speculation. Reality is most likely to be definite, uncontested winners will be known on or shortly after Nov. 3, 2020, both for the office of president and for each Senate race. I sure hope so.
Any way you slice it, there are quite a few unknowns at this point. This may well be the most interesting election in our lifetime. Stay tuned.