Donald Trump and his Republican Party have set the stage for the U.S. presidency in 2024, regardless of how the election results. If they decide to pursue this plan most of the conditions that they would need to achieve it are already in place.
If you think this sounds absurd, continue reading.
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These are the things that a politician needs to subvert the U.S. presidency election because of this peculiarity in our electoral process:
- You can control half of the state legislatures through partisan gerrymandering, self-serving redrawing.
- At least some legislatures in swing states are sufficiently radical to either a. To suppress voters enough to achieve their preferred outcome; b. replace the Board of Election if it doesn’t arrange for the preferred candidate to win; or c.) send a non-elected slate of electors for certification regardless of the election’s actual result.
- Control of the House of Representatives and, preferably, both houses of Congress.
- The ability to eliminate moderates who might not agree with the end or democracy.
- Total loyalty from one’s political party and a cult-like allegiance from voters.
- A compliant, complacent, or cooperative Supreme Court.
- Widespread doubt among voters about the notion that elections are fair (a skepticism which can be fed through the constant challenge of legitimate results by the winner of an election).
These are just a few of the additional factors that could assist a politician in stealing an election.
- Sufficient voter suppression to render the above-mentioned plan ineffective, or at most to close enough results to cast doubt on their legitimacy.
- Cynicism and confusion so deep that huge numbers of people don’t believe in facts of any kind.
- White nationalist militias of partisans that promote voter suppression and doubt the legitimacy of elections.
- A sizable minority of the population that believes deep down that Black people and immigrants are not “real” Americans, and that their votes should not determine the results of elections.
Now, let’s look back at these conditions for how a politician might subvert an election. Trump and his GOP all have most of these boxes already checked. Many others are well in the process.
The endless repetition of the Big Lie, the sham audit in Arizona, the new voter suppression laws in 19 states, the demonization of mass media through the “fake news” mantra, the packing of the Supreme Court with Federalist Society-approved right-wing justices, the purging of Rep. Liz Cheney, the encouragement of the Proud Boys… these are sometimes covered as random and disparate strands, rather than part of a plan that makes total sense once you know what the goal is.
Assuming Trump runs for president, he will likely make countless accusations of fraud — echoed by his supporters — between Election Day and December 16, 2024, the date electors in each state meet to formally vote for president and vice president.
Legislative bodies in at least some swing state that Democrats have won could use laws passed after the 2020 elections to invalidate the results, and elect Trump’s slate of candidates. Senate Bill 202, which is the Georgia law that banned water distribution to voters waiting in long lines, allows state officials to control local election boards. It’s less well-known but more sinister. This means that the radical right legislature which passed the law can legally and easily alter the result.
When Congress opens the envelopes on January 6, 2025 there will be either enough electoral votes to elect Trump or enough states with opposing slates of voters or other forms chaos to declare that neither candidate has received the required 270 electoral votes. At that point, each state would vote one. With Republicans having a majority of congressional representatives in a majority of states, and with moderates purged from the party, it’s hard to imagine the states doing anything but selecting Trump. Even if voter suppression is not sufficient to award Trump the popular vote, this scenario is plausible. It doesn’t matter how much he loses by if the state legislatures have the power to determine the electoral slate sent to Congress.
What can we do to prevent this from happening?
Electoral resistance The Democrats could mobilise to keep the majority of the House of Representatives.
Legislative resistanceThe Senate could pass federal voter legislation that would override some of the most problematic provisions in the current wave of state laws. The federal law would need to repeal the takeover provisions, which allow state legislatures replace or overrule local elections boards. This could be done by suspending filibuster and obtaining all 50 Democratic Senate votes or by gaining 10 or more Republican senators support it.
Judicial resistance:President Joe Biden could appoint four to five new Supreme Court justices to prevent this from happening in the inevitable litigation. The Senate could confirm them.
State-level resistance:Courageous secretaries in state in swing states could invoke the Section 3 of Amendment. This section prohibits anyone who has taken an office to defend the Constitution, from being elected if they have participated or threatened the U.S. These election officials could — and arguably would be obliged to — refuse to place Trump on the ballot.
Although these steps may seem extreme or even provocative, the U.S. faces serious danger of losing its democracy-shaking ability to hold free and fair elections without at least one of these. They all seem unlikely at the moment.
This is a five-alarm fire, yet right now no elected Democrat is consistently sounding the alarm — not Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, not House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, not Sen. Bernie Sanders, not Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and definitely not Sen. Joe Manchin. This is DEFCON for democracy and the president barely mentions.
Democrats must consider the possibility of this terrible scenario and take bold actions to stop it from happening.