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Trump rattles the political world as he puts the whole establishment of government at risk

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President Donald Trump is in a tight spot, behind in national polls and barely ahead in Texas, where no Democrat has won a presidential race since 1976. When he said the other day that “nobody likes me,” nobody disagreed with him.

His situation sets the environment for Republicans and Democrats up and down the November ballot in Texas. If the Republican president does well, that’s probably to the benefit of other Republicans on the ballot, even if the state doesn’t have straight-ticket voting anymore. If he does poorly, it could spell a good day for the Democrats. And in an election where a half dozen seats in Congress and the Republican majority in the Texas House are at stake, the top candidate’s performance is critical.\

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On Thursday morning, the president retreated to his safe space — Twitter — where he ruminated on the impending election that could make him the first one-term president in almost three decades.

“With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???,” Trump tweeted.

That sent a shudder through the political world. Democrats predictably started hacking away — or continued hacking away — at Trump. But Republicans, who’ve been very cautious about creating any distance between themselves and a president with strong support from their party’s voters, made room for themselves this time.

You can’t delay an election with a tweet, and you can’t delay one from the White House, either. That’s not what this is about. Trump is feeding doubts about the reliability and trustworthiness of U.S. elections, leaning on urban legends about the frequency of voter fraud — yes, it exists, and no, it’s not pervasive. Those doubts support the notion that any election that doesn’t reelect the incumbent is illegitimate.

But doubts like that don’t start and stop with the presidential race. Everybody on the ballot — winners and losers — agrees to accept the results when they enter the contest.

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Trump isn’t proposing to get rid of mail ballots. He casts them himself. He’s making a false distinction between absentee ballots, which are cast in the mail, and universal voting by mail, which is a version of the same process, with different rules about who is eligible.

But this is clearly a threat to the system we use to choose the people who represent us. Want to knock over a building? Destroy the foundation. Want to tear down a democracy? Destroy confidence in free elections.

It’s disquieting when the kooky stuff in politics comes straight from the top.

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There are always people like U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler, who thrive on flagrant nonsense and outlandish skylarking; he’s the congressman who speculated that wearing a mask is what infected him with COVID-19. But he’s also just one of 535 members of Congress, and hardly the only one saying strange things all the time.

But the system almost always sorts seeds from stems on the way to the top. The 2016 election, starting in the Republican primary, didn’t do that. One refrain from that contest — that here, finally, was a candidate who wasn’t afraid to burn it all down — was dead on.

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The voters who wanted to kick the establishment aren’t upset about the president’s tweeting.

The voters who thought any Republican at all would be better than Hillary Clinton kicked their problems down the road and now confront the consequence.

If Trump were to lose the general election while successfully planting widespread doubts about the results, he’d be leaving the country in shambles for his successor — and for anyone elected to Congress or a state legislature in what could then be framed as a shady election that put illegitimate officials in place.

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If he’s not winning, nobody’s winning. He’s willing to risk the whole establishment of government to prove it.

That’s not a new story in history, but it’s new to us.


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2020 Election

Morning Joe busts Trump for trying to scam the public with a fake tax cut proposal

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Taking up the executive orders signed by Donald Trump on Saturday, MSNBC "Morning Joe" co-host Joe Scarborough pointed out a big loophole in the president's proposal for a tax cut, saying he is hiding the fact that voters will be on the hook for deferred taxes after the election.

After first pointing out the president's contempt for Americans struggling to make ends meet during the coronavirus pandemic that has crippled the economy.

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2020 Election

Lawmakers demand removal of Postmaster General DeJoy over ‘nefarious’ efforts to ‘aid Trump re-election’

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"He is working to dismantle a fundamental institution of our democracy. He needs to resign or be removed, now."

On the heels of a "Friday Night Massacre" at the U.S. Postal Service that deeply alarmed lawmakers, activists, and ordinary citizens nationwide, two House Democrats are demanding the immediate removal of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy over his sweeping operational changes to the beloved government service that have slowed the delivery of essential packages and jeopardized mail-in voting.

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2020 Election

Trump isn’t a king — he may be worse

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With each passing day, it seems, the Trump administration seems intent on replaying the lead-up to the English Revolution.

This article first appeared in Salon.

Like King James I of England (aka James VI of Scotland), Trump believes that he, to quote James' tract of 1598, "The True Law of Free Monarchies," "is above the law," accountable only to God. He asserted in a July, 2019 speech that Article II of the Constitution means "I have to the right to do whatever I want as president." Like James' son, Charles I, who ruled England for 11 years without a parliament, Trump is increasingly governing through executive orders rather than making laws with the House and Senate.

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