The ways in which Donald Trump has threatened our republic over the past three and a half years are legion.
Yet, every day, he adds more evidence the country he took a bible oath to protect and defend is slipping into fascism.
As if we weren’t already paying attention, Trump whipped out a bull horn Wednesday to announce he fully intends to lead us down fascism’s dark, deceitful road.
“We’re going to have to see what happens, you know that. I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster….Get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very peaceful—there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There will be a continuation. The ballots are out of control. You know it. And you know who knows it better than anybody else? The Democrats know it better than anybody else.”
Get rid of the ballots.
Out loud, the president of the United States admitted to a room of reporters that not only will he refuse to respect the unique changing of the guard the framers of our Constitution interpreted as one of the most sacred duties a democratic republic can possess; he also said “Get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very peaceful–“.
We don’t need him to finish the sentence.
In other words, rig the election so he remains in power and no one gets hurt.
But try to hold a fair election in which there is an overwhelming chance he will lose, and…?
Four years ago that would have been thrust into the realm of alarmist conspiracy theory.
Today, though, it’s more real than ever.
As Amanda Marcotte wrote in Salon:
“It’s no secret that Trump plans to do whatever he can to steal the election. But by openly demanding that ballots be thrown out, Trump confirmed publicly what many activists, historians and legal experts have been warning may be coming: An actual attempted coup against democracy.”
If ever there was a “break-glass-in-case-of-fire” moment, this is it.
How can you watch this and not see democracy being discarded for fascism? https://t.co/z7PMhBTPqa
— Rep. Mark Pocan (@repmarkpocan) September 24, 2020
“Trump has lined up his legal team to fight this in the courts. He’s indicated that he expects his nominee to fill the Supreme Court seat left by the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg to join a conservative majority to rule in his favor. He’s also been stoking the paranoia of well-armed angry white men, encouraging them to join up with militias that can be leveraged in the upcoming fight over whether all the ballots will be counted.”
Trump comes with more than just a craven desire for total power.
He comes with an obsequious Republican party apparatus prepared to do everything–legal or not–to maintain its hegemony.
As Barton Gellman wrote in The Atlantic:
“The worst case…is not that Trump rejects the election outcome. The worst case is that he uses his power to prevent a decisive outcome against him. If Trump sheds all restraint, and if his Republican allies play the parts he assigns them, he could obstruct the emergence of a legally unambiguous victory for Biden in the Electoral College and then in Congress. He could prevent the formation of consensus about whether there is any outcome at all. He could seize on that uncertainty to hold on to power…It is the strategy of a man who expects to be outvoted and means to hobble the count.””
That’s why he and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are so laser focused on replacing the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg in record time.
Again, Trump blurted it right out.
Trump openly says that he wants to approve RBG's replacement before the election so SCOTUS will have his back when he challenges mail voting
"This scam that the Democrats are pulling … will be before SCOTUS, and I think having a 4-4 situation is not a good situation." pic.twitter.com/8d08UjzrZK
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 23, 2020
"We need 9 justices. You need that. With the unsolicited millions of ballots that they're sending … you're gonna need 9 justices." — Trump suggests he's counting on SCOTUS to have his back when he makes claims of election fraud following November's election pic.twitter.com/Ju8ShMe8MN
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 22, 2020
In one day, Trump refused a peaceful transition of power and urged the confirmation of a Supreme Court justice to hand him an election if the results are contested.
This is fascism, alive and well in the Republican Party. https://t.co/UZ5lGjtrnS
— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) September 23, 2020
In their Newsweek piece, “How Trump Could Lose the Election–and Still Remain President,” CNBC founder Tom Rogers and former Senator Tim Wirth (D-CO) explain:
“This is how it happens, Biden wins. I don’t just mean the popular vote, he wins the key swing states, he wins the electoral college. President Trump says there’s been Chinese interference in the election. He’s been talking about Biden’s soft on China—China wanted Biden to win so he says a national emergency; the Chinese have intervened in the election.”
This is particularly ironic considering Trump’s former National Security Adviser, John Bolton, documents in his new book that Trump, during trade negotiations with China, pushed Chinese President Xi Jinping to agree to purchase American agricultural products as a means to bolster popularity with U.S. farmers to help with 2020 re-election prospects.
Tom Rogers adds:
“Just ten days ago [June 23] he [Trump] tweeted, he actually tweeted, ‘rigged 2020 election,’ millions of mail-in ballots will be printed by foreign countries it will be the scandal of our times. so he’s laying the groundwork for this. So he does an investigation and [Attorney General Bill] Barr backs this up with all kinds of legal opinions about emergency powers that the president has.”
“Then what happens is it’s all geared towards December 14th. Why December 14th? Well, that’s the deadline when the electors of the states have to be chosen. Why is that key? Because that’s what the Supreme Court used in Bush v. Gore to cut off the Florida counting. They keep this national emergency investigation going through December 14th. Biden, of course, challenges this in the courts and says, ‘hey, we won these states, I want the electors that favored me named. The Supreme Court doesn’t throw the election to the Republicans as it did in 2000; instead it says, ‘look, there’s a deadline here.’ If they can’t be certified in these states because of this investigation going on, there’s a constitutional process for this.”
“If no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice.”
Republican are already running full-tilt voter suppression ahead of November.
All it takes is for only a couple of states–say, Texas and Florida–to cast some doubt over the election’s integrity for it to be tossed to the House of Representatives.
That may appear on the surface to be good news since Democrats hold the majority in the House.
But they won’t be the ones to certify the election.
Remember, the 12th amendment stipulates, “The votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote.”
With more Republican-controlled legislatures than Democratic, this means Trump can legitimately lose both the popular vote as he did four years ago and the electoral college, securing re-election.
If Trump is trying to bypass the election & work with GOP state legislatures to ignore electoral results that would be a flat-out coup. Make no mistake, our democracy is under grave threat – not from abroad but from the White House. https://t.co/sfSAPqAtcW
— Senator Jeff Merkley (@SenJeffMerkley) September 24, 2020
There is already a precedent for this.
It happened back in 1876.
It could happen again.
“On election night, Trump is ahead in many battleground states based on the votes of those who voted in person on election day. All across the television screens people see Trump ahead before they turn in for the night. But as more and more mail in ballots are counted, Trump’s lead falls. Trump then announces, with no proof, that there has been massive mail in ballot fraud and that these votes should not be counted–and that he has won the election.
“In other words, Trump may well announce that he has won the election before all of the votes are counted and that large numbers of mail in ballots should be discarded.
“Furthermore, in states where Republicans control the legislature, it is possible that the election results will be ignored because of false accusations of voter fraud and that the legislature itself will use its power to appoint electors pledged to vote for Trump, overriding the will of the people.”
Sanders then delineates the steps we must take to prevent this from becoming a fait accompli:
“First, it is absolutely imperative that we have, by far, the largest voter turnout in American history and that people vote as early as possible.
“As someone who is strongly supporting Joe Biden, let’s be clear: A landslide victory for Biden will make it virtually impossible for Trump to deny the results and is our best means for defending democracy.
“Second, with the pandemic and a massive increase in mail in voting, state legislatures must take immediate action now to allow mail in votes to be counted before Election Day–-as they come in.
“In fact, 32 states allow for the counting or processing of absentee ballots–-verifying signatures for example–before Election Day. All states should do the same. The faster all ballots are counted, the less window there is for chaos and conspiracy theories.
“Third, the news media needs to prepare the American people to understand there is no longer a single election day and that it is very possible that we may not know the results on November 3rd.
“Fourth, social media companies must finally get their act together and stop people from using their tools to spread disinformation and to threaten and harass election officials.
“Fifth, in the Congress and in state legislatures hearings must be held as soon as possible to explain to the public how the election day process and the days that follow will be handled. As we count every vote, and prevent voter intimidation everything possible must be done to prevent chaos, disinformation, and even violence.
“Lastly, and most importantly, the American people, no matter what their political persuasion, must make it clear that American democracy will not be destroyed. Our country from its inception and through the sacrifices of millions has been a model to the world with regard to representative government. In 1863, in the midst of the terrible Civil War, Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg stated that this government ‘of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.’”
But as the avuncular senator has asserted in the past, “Despair is not an option.”
He concluded his speech:
“Regardless of what Donald Trump wants the American people will preserve democracy in our country.”
But it’s going to take all of us.
We need to have, as Sen. Sanders insisted, the largest voter turnout in American history.
There is no more time.
This is our time.
If Trump wins another term, we may not get another chance.
Image credit: fabiusmaximus.com