Joe Biden fuels election conspiracy theory while the media keeps quiet

If there are two words that have been the mantra in the media during the last three years with President Trump, they would be “conspiracy theory.” That label is a wonderful device to attack political opponents. It not only suggests something is objectively untrue but that the person responsible for it is unhinged and unreliable. When Republican members of Congress had suggested that the coronavirus might have come from a research lab in Wuhan, for instance, it was widely denounced as a conspiracy theory, even though some intelligence officials believe the theory is credible.

It is a term that is almost exclusively reserved in the media for Trump and his supporters. That was evident this week when the ultimate conspiracy theory was declared by the presumptive Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, who warned that he was certain Trump plans to delay the election this fall. It is a conspiracy theory utterly without factual or constitutional support, yet his warning was deemed a “prediction” by Politico in a recent article. It has been peddled by various Democratic officials and commentators for months and is all the rage on the internet, even though it should be sold as a set including a tin foil hat and an electromagnetic ghost detector.

Biden left little doubt of such a plan by Trump. He said, “Mark my words, I think he is going to try to kick back the election somehow, and come up with some rationale why it cannot be held.” It is just the type of thing that a crazed guy in a tightly buttoned raincoat whispers to you on the subway. But Biden was not finished. If you attended a recent online fundraiser, you saw Biden grow uncomfortably close and go on to explain that it was the Postal Service which actually revealed the conspiracy theory to him.

Biden alleged that the administration is pressuring the Postal Service to make changes in its operations as a condition for coronavirus relief. So as he explained, “Imagine threatening not to fund the post office. Other than trying to let the word out that he is going to do all he can to make it very hard for people to vote, that is the only way he thinks he can possibly win.” However, the other way would be that his opponent flees to the desert to live inside a bunker and protect his mail and “precious bodily fluids.”

Let us address the mail connection. For years, Trump has been a critic of the Postal Service as being an institution that repeatedly required bailouts due to running huge deficits. He wants the Postal Service to agree to raise fees for mass shippers before it asks for another subsidy. That would have no impact on voting, including mail voting, in the election. Any change in its operations would not impact such things as regular mail this year.

Now for a constitutional reality check of this conspiracy theory of Biden. Elections are indeed managed by states and not the federal government under Article Two. The date of the presidential election is set by federal law and not subject to an executive order. Even war or martial law does not suspend the date of the presidential election. Since 1845, Congress has mandated that the presidential election be on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November every four years. In order to change that date, Trump would have to have both chambers of Congress vote to do so.

Finally, any delay in the election would collide with the 20th Amendment, which extinguishes the power of the president at noon on January 20. So even if Trump somehow persuaded Congress to delay the election after then, his term constitutionally ends on that date unless he is reelected. If Trump tried to stay in office past noon on January 20 if he loses, he would have to join Biden on the subway and whisper to people that he is still the president. Of course, this conspiracy theory is tame compared to other several conspiracy theories voiced by some critics of the president.

Yale University professor Bandy Lee said that Trump plans for more than an effective coup and instead plans for a massacre. I have criticized her for calling for such nonexistent actions as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “putting a medical hold” on Trump. Such nonsensical views are pushed without the type of scrutiny they normally warrant. Today Lee believes Trump is using subconscious techniques to send “armed troops in the streets,” a technique that she explains is used with “child soldiers.”

Lee details how Trump is now testing people for “loyalty to the laws of his mind over the laws of nature, or even impulse for survival” and “the more he abuses them, the greater their devotion grows.” Why exactly is Trump preparing this army of millions of amoral zombies? Like Lee warned, “We would be mistaken to believe he will leave, or even let any losing election happen in the first place.” He is not just preparing them for his notorious brag about a shooting on Fifth Avenue but for a “whole massacre.”

Her bizarre views were featured in a recent interview with Salon without a hint of skepticism. A professor who matter of factly described a president refusing to give up office and preparing for a massacre was perfectly fine to publish. The media also reported that Lee has also briefed Democratic lawmakers on the need to remove Trump as being mentally ill and wildly insisted that if Trump were not president, his “out of touch responses to reality warranted hospitalization or transfer to a nursing home.”

Yet somehow Lee and others apparently do not believe hospitalization is needed for the candidate who thinks there is a conspiracy to control the Postal Service in order to block the next election. In their minds, that is not an “out of touch response to reality.” It is simply a “prediction.” But none of this will help if you encounter Biden and he is still pushing the Postal Service conspiracy theory. In that event, it is better to avoid eye contact, nod in agreement, and say that you use Federal Express.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University. You can find his updates online @JonathanTurley.

Tags Congress Constitution Donald Trump Election Joe Biden Politics President

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