Update: SCOTUS has shut down Republican efforts.
Unless you have been under a rock you have seen the attempts by President Donald Trump to overturn the results of the election. This is not just the lame-duck president, but large numbers of his party. At this point over one hundred members of Congress have written Amicus Briefs to the United States Supreme Court and the Texas suit was joined by 17 red states Attorney Generals.
I wrote a few weeks ago that this was an attempt at a self-coup. It remains at that stage, since the courts, including the Supreme Court, have shown resilience under these attacks. Ken Paxton, the Texas DA may be bucking for a pardon. He was indicted in 2018 for securities fraud. He allegedly has committed an abuse of power while in office. Eric Erikson is one of the conservatives who have come up with this reasoning.
Seventeen other Attorney Generals may think they need to do this, so they will have a political future. Again, Erickson thinks this is the reason. While accurate, most likely, this is alarming. If you are not paying attention to even the attempt and what it means, there is a problem. However, this is not limited to these reasons, at least in my mind.
Let me make this clear. The Supreme Court will likely reject this, just like they did the other day with a similar Pennsylvania lawsuit. They have even less standing since this is not about water or border disputes. However, there is more to this than just legal. I must also add this, none of this is surprising to me. I am not a prophet. I have simply followed certain sewers of the internet for over two decades and know that the Party of Lincoln is a shadow of itself. This did not start with Donald J Trump. He is the logical conclusion to this.
This began with Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh in the 1980s and 90s. This was organized to get revenge over the events of two decades ago when a Republican president was forced to leave the office. Watergate is at the heart of this crisis. Also the lack of real punishment after the chaos that came from a president doing all he could to remain in office. That was what Watergate was. It was anti-democratic and dangerous. And until now, it was the worst abuse of power we had seen.
Fox News came from that as well. Roger Ailes knew that the media was one reason Americans turned on Richard Nixon. In his mind, it was the liberal media. This is the origin of the far-right media system that has become an alternate reality. This is so bad that news in legacy media at times is radically different from Fox, or the rest of right-wing media. This includes the same exact event. Most of the time Fox, and the rest of the right-wing media, will not cover certain things. Or if it will, this will be just in passing. Some of what they say is indistinguishable from propaganda. This is one reason we have resistance to mask-wearing and the reality of the pandemic.
Most dangerously, they are all in with the effort to overturn an election.
The effect of this is clear. We live in a society where people are not necessarily in agreement as to what the facts of anything are. This chaos is good if you are part of a fascist movement, where the state is in charge of what you think. Remember, Ailes wanted a media outlet that would defend Nixon since none did. During Trump’s impeachment, we saw exactly how that would have worked if Fox had been around during Watergate. Let's just say, I doubt we would have seen Nixon leave the office.
A Functional Democracy Require Civic Minded People
We come into the next problem we are watching unfold. We are a people who claim to self-rule. And for the last 270 years, or so, we mostly have. No, the franchise was not available to all from the beginning, and there are some people in the United States who want to limit it. Incidentally, it is the same far-right that watches Fox and suffers from severe status loss fear. This is also why increasingly we have members of Congress who do not accept the election of the president-elect.
Why? Because in our highly frayed civic culture one statement of fact is that the far-right does not accept the right to govern from a center-right party (mostly, it has its own internal fights) to run the country. In fact, they do not accept this at any level of government. You can see the upset from this far-right whenever a Democrat gets elected to any level of government. They accuse them of the worst things and project their own intent on them.
The list above is that of the Republican members of Congress who have joined the Texas lawsuit in Amicus briefs. All these people will not accept Joe Biden as president on January 20th. This is exactly how Democracies fray and die, and this is not a phenomenon of the Donald Trump era. This is a result of forty years of rejection of democratic norms.
For many Republicans, and let’s be clear, people who accept these norms increasingly have left the party, the only acceptable solution is a permanent Republican majority by hook or crook. They believe in gerrymandering as much as possible, and will not recognize the election of any Democrat to high office. This started during the Bill Clinton administration. Or at least became very obvious. This is where the former Speaker of the House Gingrich comes in. In some ways, he is the man who broke American Democracy and started us down this road to norm-breaking on a massive scale. One of his first dictates to his party was to stop going out with their Democratic Party counterparts for rest and relaxation. If they did not go to family parties, first communions, bar-mitzvah, or just a simple drink after work, it would be easier to see them as the enemy.
To say that this has worked beyond expectations is to tell the truth. Many modern-day Republicans will not even consider going out for a nightcap with a Democrat. This is worse the higher the office is. I suspect this is not that much of a problem in a city council, where most are theoretically non-partisan. But in Congress, it is rare that Democrats and Republicans will share dinner after work. This helps to deepen the partisanship, the self-sorting, and the hate. This is not healthy for democracy. And this is also the reason for the series of fact-less lawsuits to reverse the result of an election,
Republicans have no civic-minded people anymore. Nor is this limited to the highest levels of government. This tweet from the Arizona Republican Party is a textbook of how radicalized it has become.
This is hardly limited to Arizona. We see this all over the country, as the party increasingly becomes a radical organization, with an aggrieved membership that resits good citizenship. This is no longer getting ready for the presidential context four years from now, but not accepting the current result.
But Democrats in 2016! I can hear them now. While some Democrats in the base never accepted Trump as their president, Hillary Clinton conceded within hours, and the party leadership accepted the presidency of Donald Trump. Yes, there was an impeachment, over abuses of power, not whether he was president. You cannot impeach a non-president. Republicans at all levels, not just the base, are refusing to accept the president-elect. It is not just Texas v Democracy. It is deeper than just AG Paxton and 17 other Attorney Generals. It is the Republican Party v Democracy and this is the end result of a process that started in the 1980s.
In my mind, the reason for this is the fact that Richard Nixon never faced the music. Yes, he was pardoned. But that signaled that the president was above the law. The theory is now one that makes the president (as long as he is a republican) akin to a king. At this point is whether we will see violence? I think we sadly, will because we already have seen some limited violence.