For students of Latin American history, or for that matter immigrants from Latin-America, what President Donald Trump is attempting is awfully familiar. Sources have told CNN, among others, that this is coming from a place of revenge. He wants to do to Democrats what they did to him, never recognize his election in 2016. It does not matter that Democrats did, and we had a peaceful transfer of power.
These facts do not matter, because for Trump and his allies what happened next never allowed them to have legitimacy. It does not matter that the impeachment came from actions from the executive (to try to get a foreign power to help subvert an American election.)
The president also cannot afford to see himself as a loser. This is not a minor thing with Trump. It is at the core of who he is. He has told us for months that no election would be valid unless he won. Otherwise, it was fraudulent and he will never accept the results. If this was all he did, it would be bad form, though classic Trump. But it would not be more than that.
Let me be clear. Trump does not have to concede in order for his successor to be sworn in. There is no legal requirement to do so. We may wish this to be done for moral and established norm reasons. But over the last four years, Trump has violated so many norms that one more is really not going to change things. However, what we are seeing is well beyond this. What we are experiencing is not just delegitimizing the election, but this is an attempted self-coup where the strong man does not recognize the results of an election. Worse, he refuses to leave power and gets support from enough corners of society to enforce this. It usually includes both the military and police forces, as well as some in the courts.
Trump has never made this a secret. He expects his claim to reach the Supreme Court where he has gone judge shopping. It is not just the president, since Republican leadership has been busy confirming judges, while Americans go hungry. They already left for the Thanksgiving break, but Leader Mitch McConnell is still busy confirming judges for lifetime appointments, some of who are hardly qualified for the job. Well, unless one considers ideological purity. These judges could be the key to maintaining power for the president, as long as the cases get in front of them. So far Rudy Giuliani is 29–1, and likely these cases will continue to fail
Republicans Refuse to Stand to Trump
With the exception of a few Senators, two to be exact, and one Congressman, what we have are profiles in cowardice. Unlike 1974 when a delegation of Republicans marched to the White House to tell Richard Nixon it was time, they are behind him. Why? This is not just Donald J Trump. It is not just because they are afraid of his base, though there is some to that. They fundamentally agree with the president that any democracy where the undesirable get to vote is not good for Republicans. Granted, they did better than any of us expected from polling information. Now we all know better, do not trust the polls. But fundamentally, the party is a White Supremacist nationalist party that is authoritarian to the core.
This is what the media has yet to point to, in more than just the edges. It is easy to think once Trump is gone from the White House the party will regain any sense of self. They won’t because this is now the party of Donald Trump. We also have another aspect to this. Trump’s daughter in law Lara Trump may be the next one on the ballot. According to the New York Times:
As Mr. Trump attempts to subvert the election to remain in power, Ms. Trump, three allies said, has been telling associates she is considering a run for Senate in 2022, in what is expected to be a competitive race for the first open Senate seat in a very swingy swing state in a generation. Senator Richard Burr, an unobtrusive Republican legislator who was thrust into the spotlight as chairman of a committee investigating the president’s ties to Russia, has said he will retire at the end of his term. Despite expanded turnout in rural areas, Mr. Trump won North Carolina by a smaller margin than he did four years ago, just 1.3 percentage points, a sign that overall the state is trending blue and that the race for the Senate seat will be tightly contested by both parties in the first post-Donald Trump election.
But not, perhaps, an entirely post-Trump election, if Ms. Trump proceeds.
Ms. Trump, 38, a former personal trainer and television producer for “Inside Edition,” wed Eric Trump at the family’s Mar-a-Lago estate in 2014 and worked as a senior adviser on the 2020 Trump campaign. Now, the daughter-in-law whom Mr. Trump had often joked to donors that he “couldn’t pick out of a lineup” is floating herself as the first test of the enduring power of the Trump name.
His son Donald Trump Junior may be considering this. We know that the president has said already he is considering a second run in 2024. However, his niece Mary has already explained he cannot deal with losing twice, so this may be more of a threat. However, there is a base that he still has. It is far more of a cult than a pure political base.
We are at an interesting crossroads at this point. For those of us who know Latin American history, the present administration is more like any strong man than the United States. This includes a dirty war and going after both the press and the opposition. Will Trump manage to reverse the elections? Yes, if all we do is think it cannot happen here, and we refuse to act on it. For those of us who have seen these movies before, we know it is critical to become quite active and believe it can happen. Moreover, there is another critical detail here. Even if Trump goes, his party has embraced this. So don’t believe for one second this is over on January 20th.
We all need to remain alert, for the changes may be more permanent than we wish.