Theoretically, the next effort to destabilize a national election may not be considered a coup. It will depend on subterfuge rather than violence, but both will play a role. If the conspiracy is successful, Liberal democrats’ votes will not determine the president in 2024. Thousands, if not millions, of votes will be discarded in order to achieve the desired result. The loser will be deemed the winner. The loser will be declared the president-elect.
The possibility of a constitutional breakdown is not improbable. People with a desire to see it happen are creating the resources. They will attack if given the chance. They’ve already started acting.
Today, it is unclear who or what will protect our democratic principles. It’s not even clear who will attempt. Democrats, big and little D, are not acting as if the danger is serious. Some of them, like President Joe Biden, have taken a passing interest in the discourse, but their attention has wandered.
They are making a grave error.
“The democratic emergency is already here,” Richard L. Hasen, a law and political science professor at UC Irvine, stated in late October. Hasen takes pride in his prudent nature. Only a year ago, he was warning against exaggeration. He now talks matter-of-factly about the demise of our political body. “We face a serious risk that American democracy as we know it will come to an end in 2024,” he said, “but urgent action is not happening.”
State Republican operatives have been creating an infrastructure of election fraud for more than a year, with implicit and explicit assistance from their party’s national officials.
Elected authorities in Arizona, Texas, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and other states have investigated Donald Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election. They have identified the points of failure and taken meaningful efforts to prevent failure in the future.
Some have changed legislation in order to take political control over choices such as which votes to count and which to trash, which results to certify and which to reject.
They are forcing out or removing authority from election officials who refused to participate in the conspiracy last November, with the goal of replacing them with proponents of the Big Lie. They are honing a legal case that would empower state legislatures to overturn voters’ decisions.
As a foundation for everything else, Trump and his party have persuaded a frighteningly large number of Americans that the essential workings of democracy are corrupt, that fabricated claims of fraud are true, that only cheating can nullify their electoral victory, that tyranny has usurped their government, and that violence is a valid response.
These maneuverings might help any Republican, but let’s not pretend there’s any anticipation. Unless nature intervenes, Donald Trump will run for and win the Republican presidential nomination in 2024. He has enslaved the party. Nobody can shatter it, and few will attempt. Trump will not be deterred from running if he suffers a setback outside of politics, such as an indictment or a bad business turn. If anything, it will strengthen his desire for power.
As the anniversary of January 6 approaches, investigators are still tracing the origins of the insurgency that trashed the Capitol and forced members of Congress to escape for their lives. What we now know, and could not have known at the time, is that the pandemonium created that day was part of a larger strategy. In hindsight, the insurgency seems to be a rehearsal.
Even in loss, Trump has acquired momentum for a second run at the presidency when the polls close on November 5, 2024. It may look otherwise—after all, he no longer leads the executive branch, which he attempted and mostly failed to recruit in his first coup attempt. However, the balance of power is changing in his favor in increasingly important sectors.
In the one political environment that matters to him, Trump is effectively defining the narrative of the insurgency. The initial shock of the incident, which momentarily caused several top Republicans to abandon him, has given way to an almost universal acceptance.
No one foresaw a year ago, that Trump would force the whole party to accept the Big Lie and remake rebels as martyrs. Today, the few Republican rebels are being expelled. “Two down, eight to go!” Trump gloated at the retirement announcement of Representative Adam Kinzinger, one of ten House Republicans who voted in favor of Trump’s second impeachment.
Trump has reclaimed his party’s support by lighting it on fire. Tens of millions of people in the United States see their world through the darkness of his rhetoric. His greatest source of strength is Republican supporters’ intense resentment that they lost the White House and are losing their nation to foreign forces with no legal claim to authority.
This is not a fleeting or haphazardly committed population. Trump has created the first American mass political movement in a century that is willing to fight for its goal by any means necessary, even violence.
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