Republicans plot to overturn elections on every level
President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, (White House photo by Shealah Craighead.)

Mike Allen of Axios, one of D.C.'s most venerated purveyors of conventional wisdom, dropped a big bomb last week when he wrote that Democrats who study polling are panicking over the possibility that Donald Trump could win the trifecta in 2024 and end up with a "compliant filibuster-proof Senate majority in January 2025" courtesy of what data analyst David Shor, best known for his "popularism" theory, predicted would be "a minority of the vote.

How's that for a cherry on top of a shit-sundae?

Allen pointed to a piece by Yale's Simon Bazelon who accuses Democrats of "sleepwalking into disaster, noting that a close presidential election in 2024 might take out Democratic Sens. Jon Tester in Montana, Joe Manchin in West Virginia, Sherrod Brown in Ohio, Bob Casey in Pennsylvania, Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin, Kyrsten Sinema in Arizona, Debbie Stabenow in Michigan and Jackie Rosen in Nevada. Allen writes, "in all those states, hardcore liberalism is a tough sell," as if the Democrats are unaware of that and these candidates know nothing about the states they will be running in.

The sword of Damocles is hanging over our entire democracy at this point

Yes, of course, it will be a tough map for Democrats in 2024 because all those incumbents are up for re-election in what are, with the exception of West Virginia, battleground states which by definition are well ... battles. Of course, that also means these same states are tough for Republicans. After all, they all lost in 2018.

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The assumption in Allen's piece, and others like this one from Ross Douthat, is that not only is the midterm election this November going to be a rout for Democrats because of an inevitable backlash against media-hyped "hardcore liberalism," 2024 is already in the bag for the GOP as well.

This November is a lot closer and the usual midterm dynamics are apparent, so it's not ridiculous to be worried about the Democrats losing control of Congress. But to assume Donald Trump has already won the 2024 election because of the party's alleged "hardcore liberalism" is the predictable stale beltway dogma about politics in "Real America" which has never been an accurate analysis of why people actually vote. We should, however, be concerned that the Democrats will lose the 2024 election for an entirely different reason, and, in fact, every Democrats' hair should be on fire. There is an excellent possibility that they will be shut out in 2024, but it won't be because they lost the vote.

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We have all heard about Trump's followers in various states making moves to strike Democrats from elections boards and run for secretaries of state to oversee future elections. We know that Trump himself is still obsessively pushing the Big Lie that he actually won the 2020 election — and that nearly 70% of Republicans believe him. We have learned recently that members of Congress were actively involved in helping him do that, even in one case, asking the White House chief of staff for talking points to help make the case. The result of all this is to make the majority of Republican voters accept election results, as Trump openly declared back in 2016, only if the GOP wins.Additionally, I think everyone is rightfully concerned that there will be another insurrection and that it will be much worse if that happens. It's the sword of Damocles hanging over our entire democracy at this point and it's hard to see how that problem can easily be fixed.

Unfortunately, that's not all. The New York Times reported this week that Trump's failed coup of 2020 is ongoing with action in various states to decertify the 2020 election and re-install Trump into the White House. Yes, it is preposterous, but it's happening in a number of states with tremendous pressure being brought to bear on candidates and legislators to back up the idea that this is a legitimate process. The reporting indicates that many of these state officeholders understand that it is ridiculous but they are signing on to the idea as another way to curry favor with Trump and his henchmen.

Everyone is rightfully concerned that there will be another insurrection.

This effort is being led by John Eastman, the lawyer who proposed that the vice president can simply refuse to accept the electoral college votes and send it to the House of Representatives where a quirk in the Constitution would allow Trump to be certified for a second term. The judge who is overseeing the production of emails subpoenaed by the January 6th Committee referred to Eastman's plan as "a coup in search of a legal theory" and proclaimed that the documents show Trump and Eastman "more likely than not" engaged in a criminal conspiracy to obstruct Congress. Apparently, Eastman remains undeterred and is still at it. According to the Times:

The fringe legal theory that Mr. Eastman and Mr. Epshteyn are promoting — which has been widely dismissed — holds that state lawmakers have the power to choose how electors are selected, and they can change them long after the Electoral College has certified votes if they find fraud and illegality sufficiently altered the outcome. The theory has surfaced in multiple states, including several that are political battlegrounds.

The Times characterized this project as being a way for some of the Trump grift crew, like Steve Bannon, Boris Epshtyn and Michael Flynn to remain relevant, but also as a way to keep the fervid True Believers agitated and engaged. All this handwringing over the 2020 election serves to reinforce the notion that the election system is entirely corrupt and untrustworthy, which is a real problem.

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But that isn't the most concerning aspect of this project.

The article quotes formerly highly respected conservative judge Michael Luttig making the most salient observation about what this is all about: "Trump and his supporters in Congress and in the states are preparing now to lay the groundwork to overturn the election in 2024 were Trump, or his designee, to lose the vote for the presidency." He calls it "the clearest and most present danger to our democracy." Lutting is anything but a "hardcore liberal" so you would think that the Republican establishment would be a bit nervous to hear something like that from a bonafide arch-conservative like him. But they aren't. They are letting this happen because it benefits them.

There are many things they may not like about Donald Trump, but this isn't one of them. After all, if for some reason, Donald Trump doesn't legitimately win in 2024 and therefore has no coattails, the congressional elections in all those battleground states could be very close. If people believe that presidential elections can be overturned by state legislatures, there's no reason that other races shouldn't have the same privilege. So sure, Democrats should be worried about 2024 but they need to worry about what the Republicans will do if they lose just as much as what they'll do if they win.