Trump’s Coup Failed This Year, but It Might Not in 2024

Trump Republicans don’t care about politics or people — just power, at any cost

Trump Supporters Rally in Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC
Trump Supporters Rally in Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC

Who could have ever imagined that the political party that’s largely maintained power over decades by employing Jim Crow-like voter suppression efforts and appeals to the lingering racism of the electorate would defecate on democracy like this?

The short answer is anyone paying attention to the Republican Party. Alternatively, anyone who realizes that in a functional democracy, all eligible voters should be able to vote — even the Black ones.

Shocking as it is for all Americans to have to bear witness to a coup attempt this week (in the middle of a plague, no less), it should be noted that this country has only sort of had a legitimate democracy for 55 years now with the passing of the (now-decimated) Voting Rights Act. Republicans have tried their damndest to put Black voters back in their place ever since, so what’s happening now isn’t so much of a new tactic as it is an escalation of their favorite one.

Still, if you’re going to be so fucking brazen about trying to do away with the will of the people, at least be bold enough to acknowledge exactly what you’re doing.

Republican Senator Josh Hawley, the first senator to announce that he would challenge today’s traditionally mundane Electoral College certification process (a dozen Republican senators have since joined him), had the opportunity to do just that in a recent Fox News appearance — but opted instead to play dumb.

“I just want to pin you down on what you’re trying to do,” anchor Bret Baier said to the Missouri senator. “Are you trying to say, that as of January 20th, that President Trump will be president?”

“That depends on what happens on Wednesday,” Hawley answered. “I mean, this is why we have the debate.”

Baier cut him off to explain that whatever happens on Wednesday does not matter; the states have already certified their respective results, and Congress doesn’t have the constitutional right to overturn them. But Hawley would not cede the truth, only offering the noncommittal, “This is about taking a stand where you can take a stand.”

I see it more as falling to your knees in order to please the mad king, but either way, fuck this clown.

If you’re going to be brazen about trying to do away with the will of the people, at least be bold enough to acknowledge exactly what you’re doing.

Many in the media have been stumped by Hawley and others like Ted Cruz because they went to Ivy League schools, which to them means they ought to know better. For more than a week now, I’ve been hearing about how “smart” Hawley and Cruz are. So smart that they’re following the lead of the dumbest and most selfish president in American history? Tuh.

For all their education, one would assume that all of these wannabe presidents would know by now that Donald Trump is only out for himself, and in terms of presidential politics is likely only willing to share the stage with one of his offspring. Ivanka Trump is obviously his favorite for reasons that gross me out, but there’s reporting to suggest he’s now opened up to Donald Trump Jr. if for no other reason than his popularity. Regardless, the Trumps want a political dynasty, no matter how it is attained.

So considering the only heir to the Trump cult is either Donald Trump or one of his kids, watching these senators once again debase themselves by rhetorically fellating that big orange glob almost makes me laugh — until I recognize that even if this coup attempt fails, we’re at grave danger in the coming years.

Republicans have never been about democracy, but power. The GOP may indeed now be the party of Trump, but long before his hostile takeover, they were no strangers to cheating and have expressed an affinity for fond minority rule. After all, it was mere weeks ago that Senator Lindsey Graham, the current chairman of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, asked election officials to throw out legally cast ballots. And that the person he asked this on behalf of, the sore loser President Trump, had already purposely attacked the U.S. Postal Service for the sake of making it harder for Democrats — especially the Black ones, presumably — to vote for Joe Biden in the general election.

I usually hate typing all caps, but for the sake of making the point stick: THESE REPUBLICAN HOES HAVE ALWAYS BEEN ABOUT CHEATING. Trump merely wants them to up the ante, and is abandoning pretense to do so.

It’s happening on the local level, too. In Pennsylvania, state senate-controlling Republicans refused to seat Sen. Jim Brewster of Allegheny County, a Democrat whose election was certified by the state but is being contested by his Republican challenger, Nicole Ziccarelli. Worse, Republicans in the state also voted to remove Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman as the presiding officer, for insisting that Brewster be seated with the other senators. Republicans refused and said they don’t know how long they will take to review Ziccarelli’s challenge.

In response, Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat, blasted the move in a statement: “Sen. Jim Brewster rightfully won the 45th Senate District, but Senate Republicans are ignoring the voters in the district and refusing to swear him in as Senator. This is a shameful power grab that disgraces the institution. It is simply unethical and undemocratic to leave the district without a voice simply because the Republicans don’t like the outcome of the election. Voters, not Harrisburg politicians, decided this election, and Sen. Brewster is the rightful winner.”

Wolf added that Republicans have no “precedent” and “no legal rationale” to do any of this. It’s because they could care less about either. What makes this all the more maddening is that even with Brewster being seated, they would maintain a majority. So really, this is just them showing that if they have the power to deny the will of the people, they will do it.

Maybe that’s why Hawley isn’t as bold with his efforts as the Republicans in Pennsylvania are being with theirs: He can’t get away with it yet.

That ought to make everyone terrified of what could happen in the next presidential election. While Donald Trump may not get to stay in power this week, if he continues to control the Republican Party in the coming years, he will not only become the most powerful ex-president in recent memory, but he’ll remain a threat to democracy as well. Just look to last Saturday, when Trump was caught on tape trying to punk Georgia’s already voter-suppression-loving election officials to “find” him just enough votes to retake the state.

He is a strongman who employs strongman antics. Trump may be too stupid for words, but even that dummy understands how craven and power-hungry most politicians are. All they need is a little push along with their own self-serving delusions to follow his lead — even if that means the end of American democracy as most know it. And if he or his offspring find their way atop the national ticket in four years, they’re going to try this all over again.

The courts stood up for democracy this time, but my fear is that if next time around Republicans control more state legislations — or both houses of Congress — their second shot at a coup will be a lot more successful than this one.

Author of “I Can’t Date Jesus” and “I Don’t Want To Die Poor.” Houstonian.

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