Historians still debate whether JFK really beat Richard Nixon. But what’s clear is that it was close and skulduggery was involved.
CHICAGO – SEPTEMBER 25: NIXON KENNEDY DEBATE John F. Kennedy, left, and Richard M. Nixon at the first televised presidential debate. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)
On the eve of the 2020 presidential election, even those who are confident in the final result are timid to publicly put all their eggs in one basket. Democratic nominee Joe Biden leads by a healthy margin in both national polls and early absentee voting, while President Donald Trump hopes his in-person barnstorming of swing states has orchestrated a late surge of support. Both sides acknowledge that America will likely not know the winner by Wednesday morning.
After a year of pandemic, state-imposed lockdowns, an economic crisis, and widespread rioting, the most destructive development of the presidential election would be an unclear result and a loss of public confidence. Both parties have laid the groundwork to possibly dispute the outcome.
Since the summer, Republicans have cast aspersions on mail-in ballots, the use of which will break all previous records this year. The allegation is that mail-in ballots are open to fraud, forgery, and outright elimination. Most discomforting is Donald Trump’s repeated refusal-for over a month-to state that he would concede a defeat and consent to a transfer of power.
The Democrats haven’t been much better. Despite an assurance given during the first presidential debate (“If I lose, that will be accepted”), Joe Biden has contradicted himself on the campaign trail, saying, “The only way we lose is by the chicanery going on with regard to polling places.” Democratic operatives have spent months discrediting the mail-in ballot system, with accusations of voter suppression, conspiracies about Post Office manipulation, and sensational tales of people stealing mailboxes on neighborhood corners.
There is a not-improbable possibility that the United States will be rocked by a political crisis-either a stolen election or, more likely, an election accused of being stolen by the disadvantaged party. How both Donald Trump and Joe Biden choose to react to that scenario may decide the legitimacy of the American government for years to come.
Not since 1960 have party leaders been faced with such a difficult choice-investigate fraud and abuse to the hilt or let sleeping dogs lie and carry on. The legendary presidential election that year, between Vice President Richard N