I’ve recently found myself becoming increasingly agitated by the propensity of the media to treat Trump’s attempted Coup d’etat (is there another type of coup? Or another type of d’etat for that matter?) as if it were a thing we’ve defeated and is now in the past. This is wishful and dangerous thinking.
I’ve read the stories about how “our institutions held” and “if the election were just a bit closer, we may not have been so lucky”, etc. Anyone who thinks that Trump is done, or that he won’t use every means at his disposal to remain in power, hasn’t been following Trump. And not “following” Trump is like not “following” a hive of angry hornets in your boxers.
Trump’s greatest fear (other than a tan-in-a-bottle shortage) is being a “loser”. His entire psyche rages against the idea of a public defeat at the hands of Joe Biden. Add to that the fact that he quite correctly foresees a whole shit-ton of audits, lawsuits, indictments and criminal trials the minute he forfeits the protections of the presidency, and you see that conceding and moving on is not something he can begin to do.
As we all know, the first phase of the coup was to simply declare victory as the returns came in. Without putting too fine of a point on it, that effort did not catch fire. Then there was trying to “STOP THE COUNT!” (an actual POTUS Tweet), until Trump’s advisors explained to him that stopping the count when you are losing isn’t a very effective strategy if you want to win. So then we were treated to a more nuanced demand to Stop the Count in states where Trump was winning and “COUNT EVERY VOTE!” (another actual POTUS tweet) in states where he was losing.
When that also failed, Trump’s strategy evolved into demanding that state election officials refuse to certify the results, mostly in cities with lots of black people. And yes, heroic local Republican election officials stood up to pressure and even threats to do their jobs and certify results that reflected the express will of the voters. But Trump, and his particularly motley crew of “lawyers” (I think air quotes are statutorily required every time one refers to Rudy Giuliani or Sidney Powell as “lawyers”) were just getting warmed up.
The next step was to file, I’m not exactly sure of the number; one, two, three….sixty lawsuits demanding that the votes of millions of Americans be thrown away for the unforgivable transgression of voting the wrong way. And yes again, judges across the country, Democrats, Republicans, Trump appointees, etc., all did the right thing and dismissed these frivolous lawsuits as fast as they could be filed.
Not to be daunted, Trump then moved to meeting with, begging, cajoling and threatening state legislators to just call emergency sessions and declare “Election, Eschmmection! We don’t give a rat’s ass what our voters said, we are giving our electoral votes to Trump”. Again, many Republican legislative leaders in key states somehow decided that they didn’t want to have “Ended Democracy” on their resumes. And this is when the media declared victory over the coup. But this, dear reader, is way premature.
On January 6th, there will be an additional effort to have Congress reject the electoral votes from a number of inconvenient states. But given that the Democrats control the House and there aren’t even the votes to do this in the Senate, this effort is also doomed to failure. But rather than being a time for celebration, this will be perhaps our moment of greatest peril. For this is when all theoretical legal and constitutional remedies for Trump will be exhausted, and there will be only one remedy left. Physical Violence.
I know there will be some who say “Daylin, that’s crazy. It’s unhinged. And by the way, who dresses you?”. But does anyone seriously believe that there is some moral or ethical impediment to this in Trump’s cranium? The preparations for just this course of action are unfolding in plain view. Consider:
= We’ve seen some of Trump’s closest legal and political allies, such as former National Security Advisor Flynn, and “Kracken” “Lawyer” Sidney Powell and the My Pillow Guy all publicly call for the president to invoke “Martial Law”. To be clear, what Martial Law involves is thousands of troops being sent out into the street and the normal election and inauguration protocols suspended.
= There was a meeting in the White House Friday night where the President brought up the idea of “seizing the ballot boxes”. Again, this is not done by tweeting “Hey, can everyone with a ballot box drop it off at Rudy Giuliani’s office? Thanks a bunch. You’re a doll.”. No. It involves armed troops being sent out to states to take possession of the ballots by force.
= Trump has recently fired virtually every adult at the top level of the Department of Defense and replaced them with a bunch of MAGA-hat wearing toadies. Why would you replace the top military brass with four weeks to go in your administration? Great question!! It shows you are paying attention.
= On Friday there was a story in the New York Times about how Trump has openly discussed staging a “sit in” at the White House on Inauguration Day and refusing to leave. And other than when Herbert Hoover held his breath and refused to get up off the floor to go to FDR’s inaugural in 1933, that has never happened before. In fact, Hoover held his breath until he turned blue. That’s why they call the room where he did it the “Blue Room”. A lot of people don’t know that.
= There have been numerous stories just this weekend about how Trump’s top advisors fear that he is becoming increasingly unhinged. And given Trump’s behavior over the past four years, the word “increasingly” is doing a lot of work in that sentence.
This is what I fear the worst-case scenario will look like. A critical mass of Trump supporters will publicly call on him to declare Martial Law for the “good of the Republic”, to “Stop the Steal”. Trump will do so saying he has no choice. The Pentagon, and about 150 Republican members of Congress will back him up. He’ll say it’s temporary until we can “figure out” what really happened in the election. Thousands of troops will disburse around the White House.
Predictably, there will be mass protests across the country. These protestors will be met by “Proud Boys” and other right-wing fringe groups looking for a fight. Some acts of violence will occur and Trump will use these to justify the mass deployment of troops in most of our major cities. You know, “Law and Order” and “Stop the Looting”. Troops will surround Capitol Hill and not allow any inauguration ceremony to proceed.
I know this sounds extreme. But versions of this have happened in other countries throughout history. There is nothing in the laws of physics that prevents it from happening here, especially when our President has as much interest in democracy as a Hyena has in a copy of Supertramp’s Greatest Hits.
I write this because we cannot be complacent and think that the threat to our republic is over. We must be vigilant and call out even the smallest steps towards authoritarianism we see over the next 30 days, and have a plan for if the worse comes to be. This is when our democracy will truly be tested. Let’s hope that it continues to hold.