One tactic used by people who are likely to be accused of wrongdoing is to claim that it is the critics who are really the wrongdoers. And so the president of the United States launched his campaign by insisting that his opponents would “steal” the election.
President Donald Trump focused on absentee voting, expected to be substantial in the era of the coronavirus pandemic. He mocked warnings from experts that the virus poses a grave threat, insisting that it would soon disappear. But millions of voters took the warnings seriously and voted absentee. Trump pointed out, correctly, that he was leading in the polls on election night and insisted that he could lose only by absentee ballot fraud. But by then, in keeping with the laws in several states, only in-person ballots were counted.
Ofﬁcials in all 50 states certiﬁed results showing that Democrat Joe Biden had won with 306 Electoral College votes to 232 for Trump, which the Electoral College endorsed, along with 81 million popular votes to 74 million.
In normal times, it would be all over and Biden would be sworn into ofﬁce as a matter of course. Trump opened a frontal, sustained attack on the results, especially in the courts – a long-time favorite maneuver. He has lost all of the 57 lawsuits due to of lack of evidence, including in the U.S. Supreme Court whose members include three justices whom he appointed with the stated intention that they would support him in an election dispute.
The most astonishing lawsuit came from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton urging the high court to void the results in four other states: Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Paxton was indicted in early August on securities fraud charges and there was suspicion that he was actually ﬁshing for a pardon from Trump. Still, the attorneys general of 18 other states, including Florida, and more than 100 Republican members of the House of Representatives, joined his lawsuit.
Trump also tried to strong-arm the governors and secretaries of state of the four “battleground” states. Now he is calling on Congress to reject the results during the ﬁnal afﬁrmation on Jan. 6. Senator-elect Tommy Tuberville of Alabama has said he will do so and a handful of congressmen may follow suit. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and several other senators acknowledge Biden as the president-elect and Democrats control the House, so that is another dead end.
So what to do? The New York Times reported that some Trump aides last week discussed in the White House a proposal by retired Army lieutenant general Michael T. Flynn that the president declare martial law. Flynn, who served briefly as Trump’s national security advisor until he was ﬁred for lying about his contacts with the Russian ambassador, twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. Attorney General Bill Barr sought to shift his trial into federal jurisdiction, effectively ending it, but the judge objected. So Trump pardoned Flynn, who seems to be returning the favor by urging that troops seize voting machines and do a “re-run” of the election. The Times reported that Trump expressed an interest in the suggestion but Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley stated in August and again this month that the military “does not get involved in domestic politics.” Still, Flynn’s behavior raises the specter that there may be other high-ranking ofﬁcers who share such a view.
What Trump will come up with next is uncertain. But he has inflamed sentiments enough to spark violence, even if he has not explicitly called for armed rebellion by the militias and white supremacists standing by.
Why take America down the road which tiny Guyana traveled earlier this year when the government refused to leave ofﬁce after losing the election, until President David Granger reluctantly stepped down? Is it really about not wanting to lose? If so, he risks going down in history as a bitter politician who, as some observers have said, cannot accept that the essence of democracy is that he can lose an election.
Is it that he desperately wants to continue enjoying immunity from lawsuits? Is it that there is an unknown relationship with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin?
This much remains certain: The totally acquiescent Republican Party is desperately afraid that this could be a watershed moment in its contemporary history of election rigging to entrench itself in power. The Census projects that by 2045, whites will be a minority, at 49.7 percent of the population. The target of the party’s electoral malpractices has always been African Americans. There is a straight line from the white supremacy that overthrew Reconstruction and Trump’s attempts to cancel the votes in counties where they are a majority.
“Take the ballot from the ignorant vicious negro and you will do more to restore the old before-the-war-feeling between the white man and the colored man than anything else that can be done,” white supremacist Julian Carr declared more than 100 years ago, as Adam H. Domby notes in his book “False Cause.”
Nation columnist Elie Mystal, a Harvard Law graduate, writing in mid-December, brought it home: “Saying that our democracy proved resilient against Republican attempts at subversion is like saying the fences at Jurassic Park proved resilient against raptors. Yes, technically Trump kept getting zapped on the electriﬁed fence that is the federal judiciary. But the willingness of large swaths of the Republican Party to help him shows that if the guardrails give way for even a moment, Republicans will break out and start eating the votes of Black people.”
All of that is involved in Trump’s unpatriotic efforts to subvert the will of the people.