As the clock runs out, Donald Trump is engaged in a desperate attempted end-run around the legitimate election that will remove him from power on January 20, 2021.
By Anatole d’Ecoptopia
And the Republican Party is helping.
That aid and comfort begins with scores of elected Republican officials who refuse to acknowledge Joe Biden as the President-elect, proceeds rapidly to those like Florida Representative Matt Gaetz or Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who are actively working to support Trump’s attempted coup. Along the way, it is joined by millions of GOP voters who looked at the last four years of Trump’s flaccidly ineffectual “leadership”, decided they liked what they saw — and continue to pour dollars and their ability to distinguish truth from falsehood into the limitless black hole of Trump’s conspiratorial nonsense of a “fraudulent” election.
In no small measure, the Republican Party’s fealty to a failed approximation of a Banana Republic dictator is due to the fact that the one thing Trump has actually accomplished over the last four years is the reinforcement and credentialization of the petty grievances and vile prejudices that have come to define the modern Republican Party. The GOP may not completely be the “Party of Trump” — but for every elected Republican who has stood up for American Democracy, there are a dozen more who have remained silent, an additional dozen who lend their voices to discrediting that democracy. For every Republican voter who remains loyal to the party out of belief in the party’s one-time core principles, there are a hundred more for whom the caged children and executions are not an unfortunate by-product of the Trump Presidency… but its fundamental purpose.
In its fealty to Trump and its inability to separate itself from his attacks on democracy, the Republican Party is taking the country down a dangerous road. At the very least, they are destabilizing and delegitimizing the two-party system. At worst… they are endangering the continued unity of the country itself.
The two-party system is no particular loss: The Constitution says not one word on the subject of political parties, the Founders themselves had plenty to say– very little of it anything good. But that system is cemented into place by a network of local laws and institutions so myriad and complex that removing it all but requires a Constitutional Amendment. But those laws and institutions are based on the assumption of two majority political parties that — even when they differ on matters of policy — have a shared commitment to the democratic institutions of the country itself.
And that is no longer the case.
As for the country, we may have dodged the fatal bullet of an immediate second Trump Administration — but we are by no means clear of danger. Trump has made it clear he intends to remain in politics, has hinted at the possibility of a second run for the Presidency. Under present circumstances, it is hard to imagine him not securing his party’s nomination — given that it effectively is his party. It is impossible to imagine a second presidential race that would include Donald Trump and not include endless challenges to any outcome other than a Trump victory. As previously observed, Trump may have already destroyed the ability to hold uncontested elections in this country. The prospects of midterm elections conducted with either civility or honor are dim.
If the GOP remains the party of Trump and remains uncontested as part of the American political duopoly, the long-term prospects for the system itself are equally dim. Regardless whether Biden succeeds or fails, it may finally be time to face the impending end of the American experiment — and wonder what, if any, other options any of us have.