by Akim Reinhardt
It’s still a year away, maybe three, but you can see it coming.
A majority of Republican voters think we’re all paying too much attention to the attempted coup of January 6. Only a quarter of them think it’s even worth finding and prosecuting the rioters who stormed the Capitol, sent elected politicians scurrying for the lives, and attempted to reverse the election.
That is not surprising, perhaps, given that nearly two-thirds of Republicans have gulped the entire propaganda load and believe that Donald Trump actually won the 2020 election and is not president today only because Democrats “stole” the election.
The Republican Party leadership has enabled all of this, passively playing along with The Big Lie. It has done almost nothing to challenge the propaganda that infects its constituents, remaining silent about some of the lies and actively promoting others. The GOP power structure, it seems, is quite willing to trade constitutional government for its own political power. Indeed, when one of their own number, ultra-conservative Cheney family scion Lynn Cheney dared to publicly defend the U.S. constitutional system against the January 6th insurrection, House Republicans punished her, stripping taking away her official leadership position. Meanwhile, behind the scenes Republican state governments are advancing a subtler mechanism for electoral corruption. In one state after another, Repubican governments are undermining local election commissions by removing Democratic members or stripping commissions of power.
As the situation deteriorates and American constitutional government is increasingly imperiled, it’s easy to focus and place onus on Donald Trump. Too easy, perhaps. He is of course the tinted face and gaping mouthpiece of modern American electoral corruption, and aside from fomenting The Big Lie, he is more recently urging Republican legislatures to violate federal law by appointing loyal electors after the elections instead of on Election Day. But in truth, Trump is at best the catalyst that ignited an inferno amid the dry kindling of naked power grabs that the Republican Party has been stacking for decades. The GOP was primed to receive Trump when he emerged six years ago, and in retrospect it is unsurprising that Republican parties at the national, state, and local levels have exploded into real and potential corruption. GOP voters and politicians alike have embraced or at least made their peace with it, the masses believing The Big Lie and various party leaders happy to profit from it.
But if the Republican party has been building to this moment for 40 years, then this moment is also a reaction to an unusually clean and honest period of American democracy.
Republican attacks on American democracy may seem new since most of us do not personally remember it, but serious electoral corruption in the United States is hardly unprecedented. In fact, there is a long history of it. Read more »