Donald Trump has done the GOP a great service. Although his coup attempt failed to take control of the government, it provided the GOP with enough of a roadmap that they have worked out a plan for the next presidential election that will have a much greater chance of success. This plan no longer requires the leadership of Donald Trump, and in truth much of the GOP leadership will be happy if the January 6 committee tarnishes him beyond redemption (or better yet, sets him up for prison).
Make no mistake, Donald Trump, even with his narcissistic and self destructive personality, almost succeeded in coup attempt version 1. Think of what would have happened if the January 6 mob had caught Mike Pence or any member of congressional leadership. They would have killed him/them (maybe on live TV), thereby preventing the transfer of power from taking place as defined in the Constitution. In the ensuing turmoil, Trump would have invoked the insurrection act, retained power, and nullified the election entirely. It would have soon ended up at the Supreme Court, but with no Vice President, the Originalists may very well have decided that there was no legal way to transition to a new President, leaving Trump in control. Who knows what would have happened next – possibly true Civil War as the 81 million people who had been disenfranchised fought the 74 million people who voted for Trump.
The January 6 mob violence attempt was the only option left to Trump to retain power after all other potential coup options had been closed off. But the Trump administration identified many other options and the rest of the GOP took notes. The alternative that could have worked was to have the House of Representatives decide the contested election based on the Contingent Election process in which each state receives one vote. Because the GOP controls many more states in Congress, this would have given them a victory.
Version 2 of the coup will be much more thoroughly planned and will be executed much more deftly. The key is at the state level. In 2020, the Trump administration attempted to coerce multiple state Governors, Secretaries of State, and Legislative bodies to officially endorse alternative slates of Electors in states that were won by Joe Biden. Not a single state did. Although some state GOP parties endorsed alternative Electors, they were so obviously without any legal basis and therefore easily dismissed.
The GOP intends that 2024 will be different. The huge numbers of Ultra-MAGA election deniers already in place and those running for office in 2022 all have one goal in mind. They KNOW that the 2020 election was a fair fight, and they are not willing to not let that happen again. There are multiple elements in this plan:
- Increase the difficulty of early and absentee voting.
- Suppress the votes of those in minority groups and the young.
- Control the voting process so that many votes from the above groups can be disallowed.
- If needed, override the will of the people by declaring the results invalid.
Through the use of some or all these techniques, GOP officials intend to subvert election results in their states. In their best case scenario, they suppress/disallow enough votes so the the GOP candidate becomes the winner. But if that doesn’t work, the next best option is to declare that the result is in doubt and select an official alternate slate of Electors to send to Congress. If they succeed in doing so in most or all of the key battleground states in 2022, then their path to victory in 2024 is clear.
So here’s how version 2 of the coup works:
- Gain enough seats in Congress (and ideally the Senate) to win control.
- Gain control of battleground state offices.
- Using that control, suppress/disallow votes.
- If needed, sow doubt to justify selection of alternate slates of Electors.
- When votes are counted, use the doubts to object to the process, and throw the vote to the House.
- On the basis of one state, one vote, elect the GOP candidate as the next President.
The GOP leadership sees Donald Trump is a useful fool. The more he rants about the “stolen” 2020 election, the more he riles up the base, and the more cover he provides for the MAGA election deniers. They all (including Trump) know that its a Big Lie, but as long as they don’t admit it, their dupes (i.e. voters) will a) send Trump money, and b) vote for their authoritarian agenda. By no means do they want Trump to run for office again. They know he is completely unelectable. But as a martyr, self-proclaimed or for real, he is helping them achieve their goals. It would work out perfectly for them if, after the 2022 elections, he is convicted for one of the many crimes he committed while in office.
With Trump out, the GOP frontrunner for President in 2024 is clearly Ron DeSantis. DeSantis incorporates Trump’s base-provoking white nationalist instincts and authoritarian tendencies with the smarts of a graduate of Yale and Harvard Law School. He is a very dangerous man, because while he is every bit as amoral and evil as Donald Trump, unlike Trump he has proven over and over that he can and will accomplish his goals. Under DeSantis and the GOP, the United States will be transformed into an authoritarian white Christian theocracy with a bleak future.
Can the Democrats prevent the GOP MAGA DeSantis administration from becoming a reality? Yes, but it won’t be easy. That will be the subject of my next post.