I was neither surprised nor alarmed when Trump refused to concede the election and blubbered lies about election fraud when Biden won. Trump is a malignant narcissist, so his entire being is centered on collecting adulation and avoiding shame. He had to have an offramp when he submitted himself to a process whereby other people render a verdict because shame is an existential threat.
Anticipating a loss, Trump did the same thing during the 2016 campaign. He predicted in advance he’d be cheated out of a win. We all got a nasty surprise, including Trump.
In 2020, Trump telegraphed his strategy: 1) convince the mouth-breathers not to use mail-in ballots in the middle of a pandemic so as to delegitimize results that come in after Election Day, 2) tout Election Day results as a glorious victory, and 3) cry foul when his lead vanishes as mail-in ballots are counted.
It would all be a meaningless clown show but for one thing: the complicity of elected Republicans and Trump administration officials. They’ve demonstrated repeatedly that they’ll destroy this country to hang onto power, and hanging onto power requires appeasing Trump and his cult.
The Republicans who aren’t openly lying about the election along with Trump are indulging the liars by making anodyne mouth noises that leave open the possibility that the result is ambiguous. It is not. Biden won, and Trump lost.
Given the above, the behavior of elected Republicans like Marco Rubio, Rick Scott, Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell, etc., is disgraceful, conniving, destructive and cowardly but not surprising. The only meaningful question is, is it part of a larger effort that could be effective, i.e., could Republican officials conspire to steal this election?
I sure didn’t think so, given that vacating the election results would involve invalidating about a quarter of a million votes in multiple states, including those run by Republican governors and secretaries of state. But I’ll admit I was alarmed when Barr stuck his big fat thumb on the scale yesterday.
On the one hand, Barr’s move could be interpreted as a Durham investigation maneuver, i.e., the corrupt AG equivalent of sticking a pacifier in his degenerate boss’s gob. But:
Richard Pilger, director of the elections crimes branch in the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section, told colleagues in an email that the attorney general was issuing “an important new policy abrogating the forty-year-old Non-Interference Policy for ballot fraud investigations in the period prior to elections becoming certified and uncontested.” Pilger also forwarded the memo to colleagues in his resignation letter.
Is Pilger warning of an ongoing danger to the election results, or is he calling our attention to an outrageous impropriety perpetrated by the corrupt Barr that undermines democracy in a way that is similar to what elected Republicans are doing? I don’t know. Pilger deserves our gratitude in either case.
But I felt better after reading this summary of where the attempt to steal the election stands; it was posted on Twitter by Mark Stern, legal scholar at Slate:
Republicans are helping Trump create a harrowing atmosphere of very real, deep fear that he might stage a coup. I feel it, too. But there is no substance behind his theatrics. There are no remotely plausible scenarios in which he will prevail. He will leave office on Jan. 20.
I am intensely pessimistic about everything related to Trump. But none of his lawsuits stand a chance of overturning the outcome of this election. Yes, even with THIS Supreme Court. Trump’s delegitimization of the election may have horrific consequences. But he will leave office.
And to be clear, I absolutely believe there were scenarios in which Trump could steal the election. I wrote about them! But we are not in one. We aren’t even close. The recent actions of Trump and the GOP are truly odious—banana republic stuff. But they won’t work. He will leave.
I am very worried about the consequences of Trump and Republicans convincing their voters that Democrats rig elections through mass voters fraud! I’m worried about future elections that are within stealing distance for the GOP. But I am not worried that Trump will steal this one.
I offer this because it makes me feel more confident, so maybe it’ll make you feel less anxious too, if you’re worried. IMO, it’s not crazy at all to be worried since we’re dealing with a would-be autocrat and utterly corrupt, amoral henchmen who’ve infested every level and branch of government. As Stern implies, if the election had been closer, they might have been able to pull off a heist. But together, we stopped them.