If You Think the Coup is Over, You Don’t Know Trump
It is clear that over the past month since the election, our democracy has undergone a bit of a stress-test. It’s sort of like a cardiac stress test, but with fewer treadmills and more Rudy Giuliani press conferences in parking lots. Despite losing decisively, Trump has defied all traditions and norms by not conceding. But this was only the Phase I of a continuously ratcheting-up assault on our democracy.
Phase II involved lots of (approaching 50 now) frivolous lawsuits. I happen to believe that in the context of lawsuits, the word “frivolous” is used frivolously. Very few lawsuits without a good-faith basis are actually ever filed. Mostly the word “frivolous” has evolved into meaning “lawsuits that I don’t like”, or “lawsuits in which I’m a defendant”.
But just like Justin Timberlake brought sexy back (I feel it every day), Trump has brought true legal frivolity back. For example, I think it would be fair to call lawsuits alleging extensive fraud in a county that doesn’t actually exist frivolous. Same with or a lawsuit filed in Wisconsin demanding that Biden’s victory be thrown out because of hijinks that went on in Detroit, given that Detroit isn’t in Wisconsin. No…Really! Don’t take my word for it. Go there and check it out for yourself!
The Trump litigation express has obviously been a spectacular failure, losing in every court, state and federal, all across the country. Their cases have been dismissed and their petitions rejected by Democratic and Republican judges, including judges appointed by Trump himself. Further, there is no reasonable appeal that can be taken to the Supreme Court on any of these cases, in part because Trump’s all-stars didn’t create any viable record for a higher court to hang its hat on, and in-part because none of Trump’s lawsuits, even if successful, would actually make a difference in the final result.
But as we know, that didn’t end the matter. Trump just moved on to Phase III of his attempt to overthrow the will of the people. He started openly imploring Republican legislatures in states Biden won to ignore the actual results of the election and just appoint their own pro-Trump electors. This also appears to have failed. There are legal difficulties with this course of action in that while the US Constitution gives legislatures sole discretion to establish the method by which their states choose their electors, most states have already done that and specifically passed statutes directing that the electors reflect the outcome of the popular vote.
Beyond that, the optics are difficult for this course of action. It seems there are still at least some Republicans who feel that overruling the voters of their state is sort of icky. There are some in each state are in fact introducing resolutions which, in effect, say “Election, Eschmechtion. I want my guy to win!”. But these blatant rejections of the entire American idea don’t seem to be gaining much traction.
As all of this became clear, we started seeing media commentators, pundits and politicos saying “It’s Over!” or, “Democracy dodged a bullet” etc., But I’m here to tell you that this is premature. If you’ve been paying any attention to Trump (and how could you not? It would be like “not paying attention” to a hive of angry hornets in your underwear), you should know that he still has no intention of conceding, cooperating with the incoming Biden administration or giving up power voluntarily. And this leads us to Phase IV, what I like to call “open fascism”.
At the end of the day, when all of the softer versions of power-grabbing have failed, there is still one last card to play, and that is to simply declare the election void and call the troops out into the street. I’ve been raising this as a possibility since the summer, and many friends have said that I was “crazy”, although admittedly for lots of reasons. But let’s look at where we are.
President Trump has recently said that the “only way” Biden could come into the White House as President is if he “proves” (presumably to Trump’s satisfaction) that he won the election legitimately. Incidentally, history is not replete with presidents-elect having to prove that they really won the election to the person they beat. Even more ominously, we have those affiliated with the President now openly calling for armed interference with the transition of power. Within the last 24 hours, President Trump’s own former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn urging him to “declare a limited form of martial law and suspend the constitution ‘’. for the purpose of conducting a new election.
Trump’s sort-of former and sort-of not former attorney Sidney Powell has tweeted” “We will not stand by…Eighty million and more Americans have requested that you use the Insurrection Act, Suspend the December Electoral College vote and set up military tribunals immediately….Further we request that you suspend the January 6 GA Senate run-off race and the January Inauguration until this issue is resolved.”
A right-wing group which calls itself “We the People Convention” (catchy!) took out a full page ad asking Trump to declare martial law to prevent “a shooting civil war”. “Martial Law” was trending on Twitter earlier this morning, and officials involved with vote-counting are receiving physical threats in alarming numbers.
In the meantime, to the shock of exactly one person (whoever it was that thought that Detroit was in Wisconsin), President Trump has done absolutely nothing to disavow or tamp-down this talk of obviating democracy. On the contrary, he repeats or retweets every insane conspiracy theory any basement-troll can come up with. He constantly attacks the integrity of the very process of choosing our leaders democratically, and continues to ratchet up the rhetoric of sedition.
The trajectory of the President’s actions are heading in only one direction, which is the path of the dictator. I don’t think he will ultimately be successful, but I am not positive he won’t be. What I know for sure is that this effort to remain in power regardless of the will of the voters is not over, and to paraphrase American Icon Kimberly Gilfoyle, the worst…IS YET…TO COME!!!!!