Left-leaning states may consider secession if President Trump wins the electoral college but loses the popular vote as he did in 2016, a columnist for the New York Times says in a new podcast.
Michelle Goldberg, an op-ed columnist for The Times and a contributor to MSNBC, made the comments during the Oct. 8 edition of The Argument, a podcast hosted by her and fellow columnist Ross Douthat. Much of the podcast focused on what would happen if Trump loses the election and refuses to leave office, but Douthat proposed a different scenario: What if America experiences a repeat of 2016, but “with an even bigger gap between the popular vote and the electoral college”?
Douthat suggested in his hypothetical: Trump wins Pennsylvania, Texas and Georgia narrowly and wins the electoral college but loses California “in an unprecedented blowout” and the popular vote to Biden, 53-45 percent. Douthat continued his hypothetical: “John Podesta, sort of embodying the Biden campaign and refusing to concede and literally urging California and other blue states to threaten some kind of secession if there isn’t some kind of negotiated deal that gets Trump out of office.” (Podesta served in the administrations of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.)
Goldberg said calls for secession in such a scenario would begin in the states.
“It’s not going to come from John Podesta. It’s not going to come from Biden,” she said, referencing a push for secession. “I think, in that circumstance, you would see a more serious movement than you’ve ever seen for secession in some of the blue states. And frankly, I think I would be part of it. I don’t think it would happen overnight. But I think it would start the processes that turn the break-up of the United States from something completely far-fetched to something that would gradually start to seem more plausible and perhaps eventually even inevitable.”
Columnist David Brooks, who also appeared on the podcast, said he doesn’t think secession is feasible, even if desired by some in an electoral college-popular vote split.
“The federal government and the state government of the people of California are so interwoven,” Brooks said. “Think about what it’s like to cut all those ties – just housing aid, education aid, agricultural subsidies – it would just be completely disrupted. So I don’t think people are going to go for that. … I would be stunned if there was a fundamental non-cooperation with the process, even as much as people may hate the process.”
Douthat proposed another outcome in such a scenario: Democratic governors of states won narrowly by Trump may want to certify a different slate of electors.
“There would be pressure to say – especially if the states have a voter ID law or something – to say, ‘Well, Joe Biden really won this state. Voter suppression probably made the difference.’ And so if the state has a Democratic governor, he should certify an alternate slate of electors which – Pennsylvania has a Democratic governor, Wisconsin has a Democratic governor. I don’t know how far this would go,” Douthat said. “But I think you would have a search for some set of actions in between secession and business as usual that could lead to some, at the very least, unexpected developments.”
Photo courtesy: Pexels/Johnmark Smith
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.