By Norma Adams-Wade
Politics is a dirty game, states a familiar expression. That expression surely must be racing through public minds as we watch aghast such blatant showmanship from Texas attorney general Ken Paxton. The latest foray into political fantasy is the lawsuit our state’s top legal adviser filed December 7. Paxton’s suit asks the U. S. Supreme Court to overturn the election results in four battleground states where voters picked Democrat Joe Biden as the nation’s President Elect. If granted, the ruling would throw out 10 million votes in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
Several days will have passed by the time you read this report and the rapidly-changing political maneuvers likely will be very different from this startling moment. But I was just thinking…, right now, it’s stunning to watch how power players pull rabbits out of hats and grapple, connive and scheme to stay in power. Then low-and-behold more shock. The stakes were raised December 9 when 17 other Republican-led states—and President Donald Trump—asked to join Paxton’s suit, a bid to get their man Trump back in office for another four years.
All this was posturing to block proceedings of the Electoral College scheduled, under the U. S. Constitution, to meet December 14 to certify election results. Law requires a winning presidential candidate to receive a minimum of 270 electoral votes. Biden received 306 to Trump’s 232, a Biden lead of 74 electoral votes. In popular votes, Biden amassed 81,282,896 to Trump’s 74,222,484—a Biden lead of more than seven million popular votes. The two contenders received the first and second highest vote counts of any candidates in U. S. history.
The vote results shenanigans of Paxton, Trump and their loyalist followers certainly boost Frederick Douglass’ memorable statement that “Power concedes nothing without a demand…The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.” So, if 10 million voters in four battleground states stand quietly by and allow their Constitutional voting rights to be trampled under-foot, the world truly is upside down. The political ramifications of the Paxton delusion are plentiful and include his own heavy legal problems. For five years he has been under a state securities fraud indictment that has not come to trial.
The FBI also is investigating allegations that Paxton abused his power in office to benefit a top campaign donor. Many political analysts surmise that by filing his suit, the Texas attorney general is seeking favor from President Trump. The president possibly could pardon Paxton as he leaves the Oval Office. Analysts say Paxton apparently knows he must act fast before the lame duck commander-in chief is forced to make way for the new Biden administration that includes vice-president Kamala Harris—the nation’s first female and first Black second-in-command.
All the legal hysterics to preserve the Trump presidency, including Paxton’s suit filed with the U. S. Supreme Court, is reminiscent of the 2000 election between Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore. Dispute centered around the vote count in Florida. The U. S. Supreme Court had to declare a winner by technicality in that long drawn-out contest because the twists and turns and back-and forth arguments threatened to push the process past the legal deadline for a final decision. Gore won the popular vote, but Bush was declared the winner. Bush is one of five presidents who lost the popular vote but became president: John Quincy Adams (1824), Rutherford Hayes (1876), Benjamin Harrison (1888), George W. Bush (2000), and Donald Trump (2016). Politics indeed is a dirty game.
Norma Adams-Wade is a veteran, award-winning Journalist, a graduate of UT-Austin and Dallas native. She is also one of the founders of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and was inducted into the NABJ Hall of Fame.