The next coup will not be televised | Editorial

Published: Jan. 06, 2022

Americans have been conditioned to see coups as violent takeovers featuring tanks and soldiers, who seize buildings and kidnap opponents and take marching orders from men wearing berets and Ray-Bans.

More recently, the most vivid image is a horde of disaffected white men charging a cathedral and pummeling cops with metal poles, all in service of a psychotic bully who sold them a lie about a stolen election.

But as we mark the first anniversary of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, it’s the next coup that we ignore at our peril.

It will bear no resemblance to the 2021 riot, which even freaked out Sean Hannity, though it is imperative that everyone in that criminal conspiracy galvanized by Donald Trump is held to account.

But the next coup is already underway, and its weapons are forged by Republican legislators and other lickspittles who will overturn the will of voters and shred the remaining fibers of an electoral system, until democracy itself falls to pieces in the presidential race of 2024.

Since their failed attempt to overturn the 2020 results, GOP operatives have crafted legislative workarounds that would allow them to steal the 2024 election in virtually every swing state, as Barton Gellman outlines in the Atlantic this month.

In Arizona, multiple recounts and an audit funded by Trump allies confirmed President Biden’s victory in that state in 2020, but the Legislature has since passed a law forbidding its Democratic Secretary of State to take part in elections. It is also moving a bill that grants lawmakers the authority to “decertify” electors; and a big-lie spouting candidate for governor -- chosen by Trump -- hopes to unseat incumbent Doug Ducey, a Republican who committed the sin of certifying Biden’s victory.

In Georgia, where Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger had the courage to resist Trump’s arm-twisting to “find 11,780 votes” after Biden’s 2020 victory, the decision has been wrested from his control. The Georgia legislature has removed his power to certify the next election, and he is being primaried by a candidate – also chosen by Trump – who said he wouldn’t have certified the 2020 result. The Legislature has also given itself the power to fire any election administrator, and they can be turfed out on a GOP whim.

And on it goes, across Republican-controlled swing states that have passed more than 30 laws, most of them voter restrictions. They will not risk getting laughed out of 60 courts again.

“They have noted the points of failure and have taken concrete steps to avoid failure next time,” Gellman writes. “They are driving out or stripping power from election officials who refused to go along with the plot last November, aiming to replace them with exponents of the Big Lie.”

All this is being done under the Orwellian rubric of “election integrity,” and it is what the GOP needs to stay politically relevant. But the ethos of Trump devotees is no longer in question. Their accepted doctrine is that Biden is an illegitimate president, with 68 percent of all Republican voters believing that the 2020 election was stolen.

That doesn’t mean the Proud Boys have disappeared, or that physical terror has been dropped from the Trump toolbox. Another poll found that 30% of Republicans agree with this statement: “Because things have gotten so far off track, true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country.” But it’s 40% for those Republicans who cite Newsmax and One America News as their most trusted news source.

Still, Democracy’s existential threat may be dressed as an angry camo clown with a confederate flag, but it’s really a thousand guys in gray suits crafting election subversion techniques into law.

The only way to stop that is for Democrats to use the last shred of their authority, change the filibuster, and pass voting rights legislation that prevents this subterfuge and ensures that majorities can actually govern.

The next coup will not be televised. But the collapse of our democracy is hardly an abstraction.

Do you like this post?

Showing 1 reaction

published this page in News and Politics 2022-01-07 03:38:46 -0800