The damage Trump would do

On Thursday afternoon, when lawyers for the president of the United States were alleging (wholly without evidence) that Democrats stole the presidential election for Joe Biden with a combination of fraudulent mail-in ballots and voting machines rigged by Venezuela’s deceased left-wing populist autocrat Hugo Chavez, a new YouGov poll of 1,500 registered voters revealed that 88 percent of Republicans think Donald Trump was the rightful winner of the 2020 election.

There is no sign whatsoever that Trump will ever concede the election or cease trying to discredit it. How likely is it that this will “work,” in the sense that he will succeed in preventing Biden from taking the oath of office just past noon on Jan. 20, 2021? Almost none, as several informative articles have explained in detail.

Yet for me the past couple of days have begun to feel a little bit like those weeks in the winter of 2016 when a range of pundits insisted, in the face of an avalanche of polls showing Trump solidly leading the pack of candidates in the GOP primary field, that he couldn’t possibly win the Republican Party’s presidential nomination. Back then, my stock response to these denialists was to ask naively, “Why not?” The answers, pointing to mysterious inner workings of party institutions, never succeeded in persuading me that it couldn’t happen. As long as Trump had the voters behind him, he would win — because in reality there was no institutional or legal mechanism to prevent it from happening.

Thankfully, there is such an institutional and legal mechanism standing in Trump’s way this time. So he won’t be able to ride a wave of outrage among his supporters to a second term.

  Biden laid out his first 100 days in office and said he won't use DOJ as his personal 'vehicle' to investigate Trump

But that doesn’t mean that Trump isn’t doing enormous, potentially long-lasting damage to American democracy. He is, and precisely through the same means by which he seized his party’s nomination nearly five years ago. Then as now he won over the voters through a potent mix of demagoguery, flagrant lies, and anti-establishment fury. Then as now he used his popular support to force the capitulation of most of his party’s elected officials and bureaucratic functionaries, leaving only a handful of dissenting politicians and conservative opinion journalists to stand (impotently) against him. (Most would eventually come around to accepting him as the party’s nominee and then president.)

The main difference today is that to stay in power, Trump needs to win the capitulation not just of his own party but of the American electoral system as a whole. That’s why, although he will almost certainly fail at reversing the results of the 2020 election, he could well succeed at sending American democracy into a tailspin from which it could not easily recover.

There are two possible paths forward from the present perilous moment, both of which have potentially terrible consequences for the future of the country.

The first is the one that experts continue to assure us will almost certainly not happen. That’s a scenario in which Trump succeeds in persuading …read more

Source:: The Week – Politics


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