Keep a List of Coup Makers
Terry H. Schwadron
Jan. 2, 2020
The only good thing we can see in next Wednesday’s planned stage set of Trump v. Democracy is that the challenge finally will put the names of Republicans who believe in a coup on the record.
In any normal world, that should mean that they have signed a political death warrant; who wants to stand election in a world where elections are declared null and void.
But in these divided United States, these Republican plotters may well emerge as some kind of patriotic if zany Donald Trump loyalists worth of a return to office when they come up for election. After all, it has been widely reported that a huge majority of the 74 million who voted for Trump believe, without evidence, that the election for president, not Congress or local dogcatcher, were fraud-filled, and the election was stolen by Joe Biden’s radical leftists.
We can expect that more than a few will not accept any resolution here, and turn to the streets, even to violence, to keep Trump in office.
Now that Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri has provided the single required senator to step up to the formal election challenge, joining with scores of Republicans in the House, we are facing a formal operetta to delay declaring Biden the next president-elect. Still, it tickled me to hear that Senate Majority Leader had railed on against Hawley on a telephone call with his Republican caucus for several minutes, demanding an explanation for defiance from Hawley, without realizing that Hawley had not been on the call.
Set aside that Hawley likely motivated by early recognition of his own presidential hopes for the next election, and even set aside that it is numerically impossible to see a successful vote to overturn the election results. It will still be a slap to the country’s most central traditions.
What We Face
What we will get is another airing of baseless accounts — some made up, some just legally incomplete — that selected results from contested states like Pennsylvania were swayed by “suitcases” of votes suddenly appearing late at night, by reliance on mail balloting that Democrats used for recruiting in a time of pandemic, by machinery that magically changed votes only in districts with higher Black and minority population.
From Hawley’s statements, his challenge to automatic acceptance of receiving the Electoral College results — the ritual that is scheduled before the incoming Congressional session — is only a call to get focus on the actual Trump complaints about the election, despite procedural and substantive rejection by scores of state and federal courts all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The only three election fraud cases to be prosecuted this year have involved individual Republicans seeking to vote for Trump. Hmm.
For once, we may find ourselves in agreement with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that Republicans should just drop this nonsense and move on, this act of public Trump loyalty is more than a ceremonial call. McConnell believes that it will hurt Republican political fates to have to split his party members on whether to publicly appear to back Trump even through election fantasy or stand for realism.
As a vote-counter who holds his own idea of a Senate caucus as the controlling arm of government, McConnell clearly hates anything that seems to weaken his position.
Trump, of course, cares only about Trump, and McConnell is a temporary obstacle, and Hawley is this week’s hero, preempting incoming Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville, who previously had offered to launch the formal challenge.
Meanwhile, we keep hearing about another loony lawsuit by Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert, among the pure-bred Trumpists, filed seeking a legally strange and strained argument that Vice President Mike Pence, the titular presiding officer of Wednesday’s session, to act in a way to hold up acknowledging election results, or insisting that votes of alternate slates of electors be the ones accepted. And this has prompted Pence’s lawyers to go to court to argue that the lawsuit that ostensibly asks to give him more power be thrown out. It’s weirdness that seems so last year now.
Throughout, we keep hearing the alarmed tone of academics, legal experts, election officials, journalists and pundits as they intone that a judgment on democracy itself is being served up here. They are not wrong, but they keep missing the point that this is all for show towards creating an aggrieved Donald Trump — and for guaranteed future fund-raising.
Here’s Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post columnist: “There is no irregularity or evidence of fraud that justifies this move. It is pandering to a party’s base which has lost touch with reality and fidelity to our Constitution. . . Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro called the lawsuit “seditious abuse.” That’s an apt description for Hawley’s latest move.”
When looked at that way, these unfolding events need a different filter — like looking at political showmanship and advertising.
Trump himself finally seems engaged enough by the developments to come off the golf course long enough to oversee the staging of a pretend coup — or to be present for coronation should an actual coup somehow emerge from all the chaos being sown.
We can even add in the dramatic almost-certainty that the two Senate races in Georgia on Tuesday won’t be resolved in time to seat any of the four candidates on Wednesday.
My advice: Keep track of those voting to dump the votes of 82 million Americans who voted for Joe Biden to insist that the only votes that count come from Republican districts.
And then get rid of them all: They don’t believe in American democracy.