Monday, July 20, 2020




          A major worry expressed by some Democrats and encouraged by President Trump’s repeated refusal to promise he will abide by the fall election results goes this way:

Trump loses the popular vote, as he did in 2016. This time, he’s about to lose the Electoral College vote, too. He convinces Republican-led legislatures in several states not to certify election results favoring Democrat Joe Biden.

          The Electoral College therefore produces no majority, throwing presidential selection into the House of Representatives. Democrats hold a majority there, but it doesn’t matter. That’s because in a House vote on the presidency, each state would get one vote, and Republicans now control 26 of the 50 delegations. Wyoming and Alaska, with one representative each, would have twice the clout of California, with 53.

          So Trump gets another four years as president. This scenario has been outlined in a Newsweek story co-authored by former Democratic Sen. Tim Wirth of Colorado. (

          It’s a fantasy of the unprecedented, similar to a 2016 Republican fear that Democrat Barack Obama would somehow engineer a way to remain president. But no one ever accused Obama of consistent cheating. By contrast, Trump’s niece, Ph.D. psychologist Mary Trump, lately authored a best-seller claiming he is a lifelong cheater. Which encourages speculation about his attempting the ultimate in cheating.

          If it happened, might a lot of Californians be tempted to secede from the Union, not wanting to be part of a country where this could happen? If Trump pulled off this sort of semi-coup de etat, it would also mean three of the last six presidential elections were won by men defeated at the polls. So much for democracy.

          Surveys in this state, where Trump lost by about 3 million votes last time, indicate he’s less popular now. The same polls show Californians by large margins disapprove almost everything he’s done as president. If the belief is widespread that he will illegitimately stay in office, a lot of Californians might want out.

          This would not be a new impulse in America. A fascinating new book Break It Up, by historian Richard Kreitner (Little Brown, $15.99 soft cover) details many moments in U.S. history when various states seriously considered secession. It became reality only once, sparking the Civil War.

                                                                                                                     Kreitner quotes Patrick Henry, revered for his “Give me liberty or give me death!” cry in the pre-Revolution Virginia legislature, saying “It would be a great injustice if a little colony should have the same weight in the councils of America as a great one.” Henry was governor of Virginia – then the largest American colony – when he said this before adoption of the Constitution, which actually gives small states disproportionate clout both in the Senate and in choosing presidents.

In California, the Yes, California group on July 3 filed a proposed initiative that would demand a popular vote on whether to leave the Union. The measure, if it qualifies, would reach the state ballot in November 2022.

Says Marcus Ruiz Evans of Fresno, leader of the separatist group, “People are saying “Hey, I used to think Calexit (the nickname for secession) is a fanciful idea and I still do, but I’m coming around; we need a government that works and I don’t believe America can anymore.”

Evans notes that after Trump’s 2016 election, polls indicated one-third of Californians would at least consider secession. Sure, many issues would need to be worked out if this state departed peacefully, like which federal properties in California would belong to the new entity and how much California should be compensated for its huge financial contributions to infrastructure in the rest of America, from highways to military bases.

The devil, of course, would be in those kinds of details. A larger question might be whether nearby states like Oregon and Washington, which disapprove Trump almost as strongly as California, would join and help form a new, large country. Perhaps British Columbia, always uncomfortably married to French Canada, might also join.

          That’s all fantasy for now, pending the November vote. But it doesn’t hurt for Trump, who refuses to repudiate the Wirth scenario, to remember that for every action there can be a reaction.

    Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough, The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It" is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit

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