Texas Republicans want to make Trump’s coup enjoyable and legal
Last weekend, former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn appeared on the For God & and Country Patriot Roundup, a right-wing conclave in Texas, where he endorsed a military coup. “I want to know why this happened in Minamar [sic]- QAnon believers focused on Myanmar’s military junta as the forerunner of a similar event here – “can’t it happen here?” a member of the public, who identified himself as a Marine, asked Flynn. “For no reason. I mean, it should happen here. No reason. It’s true,” Flynn replied. (Flynn later denied saying this, but it was captured on video.)
At the same time that Flynn casually endorsed the military’s cancellation of the election and the relocation of the defeated president, the state’s Republican legislature was rushing through a set of voting restrictions that would advance the same agenda Flynn advocates. , but in compliance with the law.
One of the cheap and easy tools of political rhetoric is to rob one of the most extreme members of the opposing party and deceptively present him as representative. To be clear, Michael Flynn is not representative of the Republican Party. He is an outlier in the full extent of his paranoia and willingness to advance the party’s cause through unlawful large-scale domestic violence.
But Flynn’s beliefs are not isolated and, as the Texas drama indicates, they are closely tied to the mainstream party agenda. A clear majority of Republican voters believe the 2020 election was stolen, and nearly a quarter support QAnon’s deranged fantasies. (Specifically, they agree that “the government, media, and financial world in the United States are controlled by a group of Satan-worshiping pedophiles who run a global child sex trafficking operation,” that “there is soon a storm that will sweep away the ruling elites and restore the legitimate rulers ”, and“ because things have gone so wrong, true American patriots may have to resort to violence to save our country. ”)
The proportion of Republicans who believe Joe Biden legitimately won a majority of the vote in an Electoral College majority is also around a quarter. All this to say that people like Flynn are no more marginalized within the GOP than those who believe Joe Biden won the election. If Flynn is an outlier, so are Republicans who accept election results. Within the Republican Party, Michael Flynn is no crazier than Mitt Romney.
The mainstream party has therefore positioned itself between the pro-military pole of the coup and the pole accepting the elections. This consensual Republican stance avoids engaging in internally divisive issues like the legitimacy of Biden’s election (the official talking point, when asked if Biden won the election fairly, is to avoid the question and simply note that he is the current president). Republicans also prefer to avoid the topic of QAnon by deflecting questions and pivoting to talk about other extremist groups.
But Republicans can’t afford to completely alienate their pro-coup wing. This is why the position of the consensus party is to act on the majority Republican belief that Biden stole the election, by imposing a general regime of voting restrictions, as well as legal provisions that will allow Republicans to challenge and vote. more easily cancel the next Democratic victory in the presidential election. .
In Arizona, Republicans stripped the secretary of state (who is currently a Democrat) of any role in election disputes, while giving all authority to the state attorney general, who is currently a Republican. Tellingly, the provision expires in January 2023, when the tenure ends for the two officials. Why? Because the Republican-controlled state legislature wants to make sure it can cede control of a contested election to a Republican, and doesn’t yet know which office will be controlled by which party.
In Wisconsin, the Republican-controlled state legislature hired former cops to investigate the 2020 state election. “Is there a lot of smoke or is there really a fire ? We just don’t know yet, ”Speaker Robin Vos said. “My hope is that they come back and build the case to show Governor (Tony) Evers and Democrats who are in ‘Casablanca’ mode – ‘nothing to do here’, ‘everything is fine’, ‘they just want to delete the vote. No. They are professional investigators.
The Texas bill, which state Democrats temporarily delayed by fleeing the legislature to deny it a quorum, is the most egregious measure ever proposed in a state. That wouldn’t just impose the now common clawbacks of voting access: limits on early voting, drive-thru voting and other conveniences that have allowed the state to register higher turnout. This would crack down on volunteers who drive more than two people to the polls (so if you don’t have a car and want to vote, you might be out of luck). And it would make it easier to disqualify mail-in ballots by comparing signatures, a notoriously unreliable method of verifying identification.
Republicans fully understand that government does not always run efficiently and that bureaucracy can slow it down. This is precisely their intention. In addition to a storm of new restrictions on voting access, they are creating unilateral sanctions, all on the side of reduced voting access.
The bill would also increase fines and criminal penalties for election officials who sin on the voter access side. Officials who send postal ballots to voters who have not requested them face prison terms; there is no equivalent increase in penalties for officials who deny eligible voters the opportunity to vote. The new structure, by design, strongly encourages officials to prioritize restriction over access.
Even more alarming is a combination of procedures apparently designed to create a crisis if Democrats win a statewide election. The measure creates protections for election observers and criminal penalties for state officials who hinder or in any way impede their “free movement” in voting areas. Recall that in 2020, Republicans deployed thousands of poll watchers, many with brains muddled by Fox News and overflowing with absurd allegations of fraud.
At the same time, the state has also lowered the bar of evidence for judges to declare elections fraudulent. The two aspects work in tandem: one generates more potential rule violations and more people claim to have witnessed rule violations, and the other makes it easier for these allegations to overturn the election.
After Donald Trump rejected the election result and began his efforts to overturn it, Republicans calmly insisted they just wanted to allow the “legal process” to unfold, as if the normal way to go. the election was a series of hysterical and baseless accusations. lawsuits. The Texas bill says this “process” will become routine, at least with any election victory for the Democrats.
What should be remembered from the republican state’s counter-offensive against the vote is that, within the limits of party opinion, it is a compromise. Stacking the legal package against voting, and in favor of post-election Trump-style court challenges, is hardly controversial on the right. the Wall Street Newspaper The editorial page, which has occasionally advertised criticizing Trump’s communication style and unruly personal conduct, gives the Texas bill full approval. (The Newspaper set the stage to fend off yet another Georgian-style backlash by running column after column warning companies to stay out of the democracy issue.) Liz cheney refused to condemn voter suppression, or even admit any connection between these measures and Trump’s lies about the election.
The Republican Party, like all parties, is trying to hold a coalition. This coalition includes people like Flynn, who simply want to seize power at gunpoint. The accommodation they have achieved between their violent and nonviolent wings is a legal regime designed to ensure that the next time a Trump rejects the election result, he doesn’t need a crowd for the carry.