Merkley, Wyden urge calm if Trump is re-elected
Oregon's U.S. senators, both Democrats, expect that many Oregonians will be unhappy if President Donald Trump wins reelection and will want to demonstrate their displeasure publicly.
But Sens. Jeff Merkley, who himself is up for election to a third six-year term Nov. 3, and Ron Wyden said they hope any public displays of that displeasure will remain peaceful.
They spoke during an event Friday, Oct. 30, sponsored by the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization in Portland.
Both have been outspoken critics of Trump during his four-year presidency. Both spoke out against Trump's latest cap on refugee admissions, announced earlier in the week. Both voted against Trump's nomination of Amy Coney Barrett, but the Senate voted mostly along party lines to confirm her to the Supreme Court just eight days before the presidential election.
"In my opinion it would be a very dark moment for our country should President Trump prevail, because his policies have been systematically undermining the checks and balances of our Constitution," Merkley said. "He has been fulfilling the worst fears of our founders of an individual who would try to be an imperial president — more like a king rather than the leader of a democratic republic.
"My deep hope is that there will be such a wholesale repudiation of Trumpism that this will be the case. If that is not the case, I do worry about the role of the courts."
Trump has said he may not go along with the results of the election — and 20 years ago, a divided Supreme Court blocked a partial recount of ballots cast In Florida, effectively giving the state's electoral votes and the presidency to Republican George W. Bush despite trailing Democrat Al Gore in the national popular vote.
Although only two justices remain from the high court in 2000 — Clarence Thomas and Stephen Breyer — the number of current justices appointed by Republican presidents outnumber those by Democratic presidents, 6-3.
Trump himself won a majority of state electoral votes four years ago even though Democrat Hillary Clinton won almost 3 million more votes cast in the election.
"I do think people will turn out in the streets," Merkley said. "But it is my fervent wish that every leader insist that any demonstration be absolutely peaceful."
When Wyden was elected to an open U.S. Senate seat in January 1996, his was the first conducted entirely by mail ballots for a member of Congress. Oregon was the first state to adopt mail ballots for all elections, starting with the 2000 campaign, and four other states have followed suit. Others have expanded the use of mail ballots during the coronavirus pandemic.
Wyden has pushed legislation to take mail balloting nationwide.
"Our system is again proving its worth with record returns across the state," he said of the more than 50% of Oregon's 3 million registered voters who have already returned ballots.
Trump got 39.1% of Oregon votes four years ago, compared with 50.1% for Clinton — although Wyden ran more than 100,000 votes ahead of Clinton statewide in winning his fourth full term. Trump is likely to lose Oregon's popular vote again against Democrat Joe Biden, who as vice president on the ticket led by Barack Obama won Oregon in 2008 and 2012.
Wyden also said he hopes that if Trump were to win nationally, street protests would not descend into violence anywhere in Oregon.
"My guiding principle is to welcome any peaceful expressions of the First Amendment, but reject violence from any quarter, he said. "Violence is unacceptable from any quarter."
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