ismagine attacking Versailles with a herd of bulls. You probably won’t go through the gates, and you certainly won’t end up king of France, but you would have irreparably trampling on the gardens and could well erode the foundations. This is more or less how I see Donald Trump’s current assault on the elections.
Let’s start with the obvious: Joe Biden will become the 46th President of the United States on January 20, 2021. As Benjamin Wittes recently explained, “It is extremely difficult to steal an election in the United States.” I encourage interested readers to browse his review, which in my opinion is perfect. I will quickly summarize the legal arguments.
Trump’s lawsuits will not award him the presidency. To win, Mr. Trump must prove systemic fraud, with illegal votes in the tens of thousands. There is no evidence of this so far, and evidence of widespread fraud is unlikely to come forward in an election that Trump’s Department of Homeland Security has just called “the safest of all.” American history ”. His lawsuits are, as one commentator aptly put it, “too absurd to even be worthy of frivolity.” As of this writing, he’s a 0-12 record in court, a batting average that would put even a little league baseball player to shame.
His pursuits are also mathematically unnecessary. He focused on 2,000 ballots in Michigan where, as of this writing, Biden leads by 148,645 votes. He is contesting a whopping 180 ballots in Arizona, a state that recently called Biden with a 11,434 lead. Georgia’s short-lived trial aimed to shave 53 ballots out of a 14,057 vote lead. Elsewhere, the calculation is much the same.
No recounting will move the needle either. The biggest recount change in history – the Florida recount in 2000 – only changed 1,247 votes. The recounts currently underway in Wisconsin and Georgia are expected to be more like the Wisconsin recount in 2016, where the margin was shifted by 571 votes. Neither even comes close to Biden’s margins.
More exaggerated scenarios are, well, exaggerated. State and local election officials, who do not report to Trump, are on track to certify Biden voters in the coming weeks. State legislatures are understandably reluctant to bypass their own voters by certifying Republican voters, which would be ineffective anyway and may well be unconstitutional. And the possibility of Trump mobilizing military resources to barricade himself in the White House on January 20 is almost certainly fanciful.
Many Americans laugh at Trump, joking that he will take the fight from the Four Seasons Total Landscaping building next to a porn store all the way to Marriott’s Supreme Court. The man is a clown and deserves every ounce of ridicule thrown in his path.
But Republican leaders are not laughing. Not even close. They support the president step by step frivolous. What started as urges to let lawsuits run their course appears to be escalating, with Mike Pompeo chuckling about a “smooth transition to a second Trump administration” and the parliamentary minority leader saying he unclear if Biden will be president on Jan.20.
Most disturbing is a memo from Attorney General Bill Barr that opens the door to politically motivated federal investigations. The note lowers the bar for new investigations, allowing the DoJ to investigate “irregularities” rather than being limited to “potential crimes.” It also explicitly allows for inquiries before election results are certified, which departs from the ministry’s long-standing practice of avoiding electoral interference. Barr’s memo promises a constant drop of misinformation to cover up Trump’s legal claims with a veneer of plausibility.
Consciously undermining democracy by elected officials should be shocking. Surprisingly, this is not the case.
Republicans have spent four years engaged in some sort of performance art to stroke the fragile ego of their “dear leader” and appease his base. This time around, Republican politicians are dancing at Trump’s order to secure control of the Senate in the January runoff and expand their majorities in 2022 and 2024. Perhaps some Republicans are feeling stuck, unable to do anything more play with Trump’s latest illusion and hope that federal justice is a bulwark against tyranny, saving them from themselves. It’s an uncomfortable position, but not unexpected in a party that data shows have taken a tough turn towards authoritarianism in recent years. (To Republicans bristling with characterization: You know you’re leaning overbearing when Turkey’s strongman recognizes the results of an American election before you do.)
Or maybe the Republicans just wanted a distraction. The fact that the Senate made unqualified judicial appointments has been pushed back below the fold. Trump’s recent purge of senior civilian leaders in the military, while worrying to some, has only sparked fierce discontent from Republicans determined to support his electoral posture. Commentators predict that Trump is hoping to shield himself from future federal lawsuits or selectively declassify information that undermines the Russiagate investigation with his new Pentagon staff. And stoking the electoral conflict provides cover for the White House con artist to once again defraud his loyal supporters. A fundraising campaign promised to “stop the theft” but actually lined the pockets of Trump’s personal Super Pac.
As one commentator put it, Trump is orchestrating “not a coup, but a cover-up and a game of scam.”
Republicans may be successful in maintaining Trump’s base. They could confirm a few more judges and retain control of the Senate and succeed in seizing Magaphiles. But they are playing with fire and we are all at extreme risk of getting burned.
History shows: “When politicians break democracy, it is wrong to think that they are in control of what comes next.”
One might think that the modern Republican party would have learned this lesson. After the election of Obama, the neo-conservatives sold their souls for tax cuts. They welcomed the midwives and fanatics into their large white tent. They expected Paul Ryan to take the Republican coat. Instead, they got Trump. Even the most disgusting Republicans hated him. After Trump denigrated Ted Cruz’s wife, the brave senator retaliated, calling Trump a “cowardly whiner” and swearing that he “would not go like a servile puppy” and would not support the candidate at the time. Trump.
Fast forward this week: Cruz rushed to the president’s defense after Don Jr publicly shamed “GOP 2024 hopes” for not licking his father’s boots. Ask Ted if he’s running the party or if the party is running him.
If the Republicans say to themselves that “this time it will be different”, what they now know how to harness the explosive cocktail of economic displacement and racial anxiety, they are dead wrong.
The Biden administration will likely be the first thing burned. By forcing the federal government to delay the presidential transition, Trump and Republicans denied the president-elect access to transition funds, barred incoming staff from processing security clearances, and barred Biden from receiving briefings on information. While Biden and some of his senior executives know how to run a White House, they still need a smooth transition to get down to the ground at full speed.
Republicans don’t seem to appreciate how the country as a whole might suffer. Early stumbles in an administration can be catastrophic. The 9/11 commission found that delays in President Bush’s transition prevented him from hiring national security personnel, which in turn made us vulnerable to attack. President Biden needs every waking moment by January 20 to prepare for the known challenges: a raging pandemic, a booming economy and a fractured country. The stubbornness of the Republican Party will amplify these threats and possibly create new ones.
This denial of the elections also erodes national security in the immediate future. With America’s attention directed inward, our allies are restless and our adversaries are emboldened. This president spread classified information and authorized Russian bounties on the heads of the American military. The harm he does to the nation’s defenses as he withdraws the elections, and the even greater harm he is capable of doing as long as he has his fingers on the nuclear codes and his hands on the instruments of the executive power, is incalculable.
The damage he and Republicans do to democracy can be even worse.
Our system requires legitimate government, which requires legitimate elections. Like Senator Chris Murphy Put the, if Republicans convince half of the country that “the people who were elected were illegitimately chosen, then the actions they take once in power must be chosen.”
America has a long history of violent disobedience to allegedly illegitimate governments, ranging from the Revolution through secession to the recent plot to kidnap and execute the Governor of Michigan for “treacherous” restrictions on Covid-19.
Even if violence does not drive this electoral cycle – and I sincerely hope it does not – the degradation of democracy will reverberate in the years to come. Democratic autonomy is not a condition, it is a practice. The colonies practiced for over 150 years before forming a union, and even then they only succeeded on the second attempt. We practiced badly for a century before we liberated our fellow citizens, and it took another 50 years of effort to liberate American women. We were not perfect, but we have constantly strived to embody our ideals, to ensure that government of the people, by the people and for the people will flourish in our great nation.
When we start to doubt this government Is to reflect and represent people, we begin to doubt that it ever can.
Republicans are sowing these seeds of doubt. And if we let them sprout and grow, we will soon find a thorny disunity where our well-tended garden of democracy once flourished. No, the doors will not be crossed and yes, the Biden administration will take office on January 20.
But we should all ask ourselves if this will be enough. To Republican Leaders: Democracy needs your help to flourish. Please put patriotism above party loyalty before it’s too late.