Former Democratic candidates Mayor Pete Buttigieg and entrepreneur Andrew Yang appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher Friday night and discussed a subject that, prior to now, would have seemed ridiculous in the United States of America: what happens if the President just won’t leave?
Citing that Fox News is now the most popular prime time channel (out of all channels, not just news), Maher suggested that the 63% of Americans who get their news from Fox may simply disbelieve election returns that show Donald Trump is the loser.
Chuckling-while-sighing, he said we’ve gone from joking that Trump “won’t leave” to just “baking it into the cake.”
Neither Buttigieg nor Yang appeared to think Maher’s scenario was that far-fetched. The former South Bend mayor, seeming wistful about the notion of an “orderly and peaceful transition of power” (a bedrock of American political philosophy), felt that the electorate had to be on the offensive when up against Donald Trump.
“An election of this president shouldn’t even be within arguing distance, it shouldn’t even be within cheating distance,” he said.
Maher, while not disagreeing, got all riled up, saying that a blow-out shouldn’t be required for a transition of power: that a vote should be fair and square. This led Buttigieg to reiterate his previous position against the electoral college, saying “if we want to call ourselves a democratic country, it’s gotta’ go,” and suggesting “we’re always going to be chasing our tail on election results” so long as winners of the popular vote don’t actually make it into the White House.
Maher then asked his two guests if they are worried about the increased popularity of “QAnon,” the unhinged conspiracy theory that sprung from trolls on 4chan.
Andrew Yang, indeed concerned, noted that “negative sentiment and conspiracy theories are spread more effectively” than other news, and added that “this is here to stay, we need to get our arms around it.”
The historically tech-friendly Yang warned about the increased power of “deep fakes,” and added that the Covid era where “we’re all interacting via video” could exacerbate the problem.
“We are decades behind the curve in figuring out what the rules are in terms of hate speech online,” he said, “and it’s getting more and more dangerous.”
Earlier in the week, John Nagl and Paul Yingling, both retired Lieutenant Colonels in the United States Army who served multiple tours of duty, wrote an open letter to General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It warned that in a few months time he may “may have to choose between defying a lawless president or betraying your Constitutional oath.” Both signers of the letter reminded him that “if Donald Trump refuses to leave office at the expiration of his constitutional term, the United States military must remove him by force, and you must give that order.”
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