We have reached an important turning point. John Diaz, the San Francisco Chronicle’s editorial page editor, wrote an op-ed in Sunday’s paper with the headline:
“Call it what it is: an attempted coup.”
This is the first time, that I know of, that the mainstream press has taken the position that Trump’s actions amount to a “coup.” (You can see a smaller “coup” above the Chron’s headline. That’s in The Progressive Populist, which I just subscribed to.)
Here is Wikipedia’s definition of a coup:
- “A coup or coup d’état is the removal of an existing government from power, usually through violent means. Typically, it is an illegal, unconstitutional seizure of power by a political faction, the military, or a dictator.”
All of Trump’s increasingly ludicrous lawsuits, trying to throw out millions of votes for Biden, are unprecedented in our country’s history. To me, that qualified as an attempt at “an illegal, unconstitutional seizure of power.” But that was not seen as a coup by the mainstream press. They construed it as using the system we have to steal the election.
But other aspects of Trump’s outrageous battle to overturn the election have become much more coup-ish.
When Wayne County, Michigan was last heard from in this blog, the two Republican members of the Board of Canvassers, first refused to certify the votes of that county, and then reversed their positions upon hearing from outraged citizens. They agreed to certify the hundreds of thousands of votes of mostly Black Detroit — reversing their “no” votes. But then Trump phoned these two GOP minions and pressured them to reverse their reversal. Can you imagine a Wayne County member of the Board of Canvassers getting a phone call from the President? So they agreed to reverse their reversal. However, it turned out that no procedure existed to do that, so they couldn’t.
So the certification went to the next level, the State Board of Canvassers, which ALSO has two Dems and two GOP members. And apparently, one of the Republicans was agonizing, absolutely agonizing about what to do. This Mr. Shinkle was getting many phone calls, texts and emails, pressuring him in both directions. All weekend, he could not make up his mind about the vote he would take on Monday. He said:
- “I’ve got many so-called conservatives saying bad things about me. I can’t let any other individual be involved in the decision. I just have to do the best that I can based on what’s ethical and legal.”
Gee, Shinkle, that’s a really tough call to make in this situation. What IS ethical and legal?? How long will you have to ponder this before you figure it out? The NY Times posed the question as “Duty or Party?” But that is absolute nonsense. The question was “Tyranny or Democracy?”
Shame on the New York Times for not calling Shinkle’s dilemma for what it is! This is not a complex choice between two Goods!
While Shingle agonized, Trump was busy. He flew two Michigan Republican state legislators to Washington on Friday. The legislators obediently risked their lives by taking planes to Washington, where Der Toddler talked with them personally about this awful crisis of the President being deprived of his right to continue in office despite the will of the people.
BUUUUUT… After meeting with Trump, the legislators said publicly that they would not interfere with the State Board’s decision!
- Phoning very low-level functionaries to pressure them…
- Flying legislators to Washington to pressure them, perhaps with bribes or threats or both …
— THAT is what finally made this a coup in the eyes of the Chronicle and also Seth Meyers, the late-night comedian.
Meanwhile, the national and Michigan GOP party chairs called for a delay in order to audit the ballots.
We’re talking 350 questionable ballots out of 250,000 cast in Detroit. So there is NO WAY that any kind of recount is going to give Trump a victory. But his intention was to delay the certification past the deadline, at which point the decision to certify would get kicked up to the majority-Republican legislature. But even THAT made no sense, because the governor, a Democrat, has the right to intervene if the certification doesn’t proceed in an orderly way
ALSO on Saturday in PENNSYLVANIA, the federal judge dismissed Trump’s lawsuit asking to throw out all of the state’s seven million votes because of rampant fraud. In a scathing decision, Judge Matthew Brann, a conservative Republican, compared Trump’s case to Frankenstein’s monster, which was “haphazardly stitched together.”
It sounds like the Judge wasn’t impressed with Giuliani’s very imaginative opening statement where he mentioned Mickey Mouse, the former mayor of Chicago, and the Mafia. It probably also didn’t help that, after alleging “nationwide fraud,” Giuliani changed his mind and said, “This is not a fraud case.”
According to the NY Times:
- “Given the almost total lack of evidence that the Trump campaign provided, Judge Brann seemed incredulous that he was being asked to toss the results of an entire state’s election. “In the United States of America, this cannot justify the disenfranchisement of a single voter, let alone all the voters of its sixth most populated state,” he wrote. “Our people, laws and institutions demand more.”
And fortunately, on Monday, back in Michigan, the other Republican on the State Board of Canvassers, Aaron Van Langevelde, figured out that his duty was to support democracy over tyranny, and voted to certify the Michigan votes! And after all that agonizing, Shingle abstained! What a coward.
And FINALLY, according to CNN:
- “Also on Monday, the General Services Administration informed Biden that the Trump administration is ready to begin the formal transition process, according to a letter from Administrator Emily Murphy obtained by CNN. The letter is the FIRST STEP the administration has taken to acknowledge Trump’s defeat, more than two weeks after Biden was declared the winner in the election.”
Biden has been waiting for this letter for two weeks!
Meanwhile, although the Administrator of the General Services Administration seems to realize that Biden is President-Elect, the President has still not conceded. And Trump campaign legal adviser Jenna Ellis said, “We are going to continue combatting election fraud.”
So this is a clown coup, an incompetent coup, a laughable coup — — but nevertheless an attempted coup.
Some may say it’s our system that derailed the coup. But the system is only as good as the people in it. Every single one of these decisions to stop Trump’s effort to overturn the election was made by an individual — often a white male Republican individual. And every single person could have made a different decision.
So the levees are holding this time. But many feel that our democracy has been irreparably damaged. Trevor Potter, former chairman of the Federal Election Commission (and a Republican) said:
- “What Trump is doing is creating a road map to destabilization and chaos in future years. What Trump is saying, explicitly, is if a party doesn’t like the election result, they have the right to change it by gaming the system.”
I guess time will tell if others use that roadmap.
I must say, I have always been so glad that Trump has done his best to alienate the military by routinely insulting them. As the Wikipedia definition says, violence is often a defining part of a coup. But the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has explicitly declared that the army will not be mobilized to determine who becomes President. So that’s a non-starter.
But what about all the armed Trumpers? So far, he has not called on them to support him with violence. Maybe he won’t go that far, stoop that low. But it’s always been a bad bet that Trump has hit bottom and won’t go any further.
In any case, the levees are holding.
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