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What matters now. A publication from Medium about politics, power, and culture.

Your Paranoid Questions

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YOUR PARANOID QUESTIONS

January 6 is going to be unprecedented, but Biden will still become president.

Donald Trump’s refusal to concede defeat in the presidential election has made the ceremonial counting of electoral votes by Congress on January 6 a consequential event for the first time in modern American history. Is there anything that can happen on Wednesday that would allow Trump to actually remain in office for a second term? Let’s look at the precedents — and what will be unprecedented about January 6, 2021.

Joe Biden is still going to be president, right?

Yes.

Then why is this happening?

Because everything is unbearably dumb.

There have been presidential elections so narrowly decided that they spawned full-scale political crises. There have been presidential elections that have fallen just within…


YOUR PARANOID QUESTIONS

Spoiler: The president pretty much has free rein to pardon whomever he wishes

With weeks to go before Joe Biden enters the Oval Office, speculation is running rampant around whom President Trump will decide to pardon. Trump has several family members and allies under investigation, and the list of names ranges from Jared Kushner to Rudy Giuliani to the president himself. But are there any limitations on Trump’s presidential pardon power, or does he have the ability to bestow Get Out Of Jail Free cards to whomever he chooses?

Can Trump pardon anyone?

Yes, the presidential pardon power is very open-ended. Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution provides that the president “shall have Power to Grant…


YOUR PARANOID QUESTIONS

Joe Biden will become president on January 20, 2021

Donald Trump’s refusal to concede and accept the results of the presidential election has sparked anxiety from many about the state of American politics in 2020. Despite it now being mathematically impossible for Trump to win 270 electoral votes, the incumbent’s insistence that only massive fraud has prevented his reelection has led many to question the stability of American institutions.

But, is there anything Trump can actually do to change the result of the elections, or will his 18 Brumaire simply be an extended tweetstorm and scurrilous litigation?

Will Donald J. Trump be president on January 21, 2021?

No. Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. will be.

You sure?

Yes.

So what’s the point of this piece?

It’s that things could…


Rumors of War

A lot can go haywire in the months before a new Congress and president are sworn in

In most countries, power changes instantly after an election. The winners take it, and the losers cede it. That’s not the case in the United States. Instead, because we have a presidential system where executive officials hold discrete terms and the legislative branch is never dissolved — as it is in most parliamentary systems — there is a lengthy period after a federal election occurs before the winners are seated.

In fact, in the United States, a new Congress isn’t seated until two months after Election Day, and the president remains in office for 10 long weeks. This means bills…


Your Paranoid Questions

What in Ye’s name is he doing?

Kanye West speaking at a meeting with President Donald Trump in the Oval office on October 11, 2018.

Since Kanye West announced his presidential bid on Twitter last month, questions have been raised about the rapper’s actions and intentions. He held a bizarre rally in South Carolina in mid-July where he criticized Harriet Tubman and then went on to try to file for the ballot in a seemingly random collection of states. This third-party campaign by West, who was an ardent supporter of Donald Trump — he famously held court in the Oval Office in 2018 while wearing a Make America Great Again hat — has drawn attention for its ties to a number of Republican operatives and…


YOUR PARANOID QUESTIONS

What happens if Donald Trump refuses to accept the results of the election?

Can Donald Trump continue as president even if he loses the election in November? Trump’s refusal to say that he would accept the results of the election during an interview with Chris Wallace of Fox News comes as the president continues to fearmonger about the use of vote by mail in the 2020 election and raise questions about its legitimacy.

This rhetoric is not new from Trump. He falsely claimed in 2016 that Ted Cruz “stole” the Iowa caucuses and refused to commit in advance to accepting the result of the general election against Hillary Clinton. Now that he’s in…


YOUR PARANOID QUESTIONS

If the 2020 election is canceled, a Vermont senator (no, not that one) could become president

A voter casts his ballot during early voting at the King County Elections processing center on March 9, 2020 in Renton, WA.

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted life across the United States, forcing more than 297 million people into obeying stay-at-home orders. As the death toll mounts and the disruptions to the economy become ever clearer, it’s worth considering how the virus could affect the most fundamental aspect of our society: our democracy. The contested, confused, last-minute postponement of the Democratic primary in Ohio in March raised real concerns about what happens if the entire nation has to go to the polls amid the coronavirus outbreak. Saturday’s contests in Alaska and Wyoming, followed by Tuesday’s controversial election in Wisconsin, will represent the…

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