Treat the Coup Differently

Imagine Trump’s anti democratic efforts being successful, and act accordingly.

Illustration by Peter Ramirez.

We are all guilty.

Not of a crime, no. Of something else. Guilty of permitting an injustice in broad daylight. Blameworthy of allowing history’s dumbest and slowest-moving coup to drip downhill uninhibited.

We have given the president a pass because we know, at the end of the day, his efforts to steal the election will be futile. But the fact that Trump won’t be successful shouldn’t mean his actions are any less deplorable, reprehensible, and frankly, illegal.

What is the current state of the defense of American democracy from the hands of outgoing President Trump? Are we mobilizing, indicting, or protesting? Are we even angry? No. Instead, we collectively poke fun at the president squirming in delusion and drowning in conspiracy, as if we were watching a zoo animal flailing about from the safety of being behind the plexiglass.

Here is my challenge to my readers: treat the president’s attempts to subvert the election as if they could be successful. Not because they are, but because what we are defending — democracy itself — demands it.

If there were some loophole in the constitution, some backdoor, saving-face maneuver Trump could evoke, wouldn’t we be more vigilant? Let’s be more vigilant. I’m asking you to take what Trump is trying to do personally, because it is personal.

Biden has been wary of appearing confrontational with Trump. How Democrat of him. Only the Democratic Party can be handed a resounding mandate and still be afraid that some mythical silent majority judges their every move. You just defeated the very man who now attempts to undermine democracy by seven million votes, act like it!

The Trump administration has explored the possibility of delaying the Biden inauguration, even though the constitution specifically says the president is to be sworn in on January 20th. Michael Flynn and other Trump associates are waging a shadow campaign for the military to declare martial law to “rerun” the election in the swing states that Trump lost in. A group of former secretaries of defense signed an open letter this week pleading that the military not get involved in this election matter.

And that’s just the beginning. Trump is now pressuring the vice president to disqualify electors from states that Biden won, despite the vice president having no such power. This comes after Trump attempted to delay the November election, and refused to commit to the peaceful transition of power that our democratic system is accustomed to.

There is also Trump’s meddling at the state level. In his taped phone conversation with Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Trump is heard pressuring officials to “find” the exact number of ballots needed for him to flip the state. When Raffensperger declines, Trump threatens vague repercussions. The president interfered in the Michigan and Pennsylvania election results by pressuring officials there as well.

It doesn’t matter if Trump will be successful, act as if he will be. Organize, protest, call, mobilize, indict, any peaceful, legal action that can be done must be done. Contingency plans need to be activated.

Maybe I’m alarmist. Or maybe I hate people messing with our democracy.

political science researcher. former valedictorian. reader/writer. host of “Politics Mostly” podcast.

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