Donald Trump is at war with democracy itself


trumpintimidationDonald Trump’s call for his supporters to be vigilante poll observers on election day — remember, RNC warns its members not to engage in poll watching or any other so-called ‘ballot security’ measures — is all about depressing Democratic voter turnout among “those people” with the prospect of voter intimidation.

Already, “Many of the schools across America that house polling booths will not be open on Election Day for the first time after parents raised fears over violence.” Election Day Safety Fears See Schools Cancel Classes or Move Polling Places.

A USA Today/Suffolk University poll conducted this month finds that Half of likely U.S. voters say they are concerned about violence on Election Day:

Half of likely voters say they are at least somewhat concerned about violence either on Election Day or after.

One in five likely voters say they are very concerned, about the same number who said they were not terribly confident that the United States would “have a peaceful transfer of power after the election.”

And then there were the Trump supporters, i.e., potential vigilante poll observers:

[T]wo out of three Trump supporters said they thought the election’s results would be manipulated rather than be accurate. Trump supporters were also more likely to say that if he lost, it would be due to corruption and therefore the outcome would not be legitimate.

Exactly what Donald Trump has been programming his supporters to believe for months.

The New York Times reports today Some Donald Trump Voters Warn of Revolution if Hillary Clinton Wins:

cartoon_57[A] new emotion is taking hold among some Trump supporters as they grapple with reports predicting that he will lose the election: a dark fear about what will happen if their candidate is denied the White House. Some worry that they will be forgotten, along with their concerns and frustrations. Others believe the nation may be headed for violent conflict.

Jared Halbrook, 25, of Green Bay, Wis., said that if Mr. Trump lost to Hillary Clinton, which he worried would happen through a stolen election, it could lead to “another Revolutionary War.”

“People are going to march on the capitols,” said Mr. Halbrook, who works at a call center. “They’re going to do whatever needs to be done to get her out of office, because she does not belong there.”

“If push comes to shove,” he added, and Mrs. Clinton “has to go by any means necessary, it will be done.”

I’m guessing this fool has already received a visit from the Secret Service. Here’s another:

Mr. Swick considers himself a “Bible Christian” and “Thomas Jefferson liberal,” and said he hoped to beat Mrs. Clinton “at the ballot box.”

But Mr. Swick, by his own estimation, also owns “north of 30 guns,” and he said Mrs. Clinton would have trouble if she tried to confiscate the nation’s constitutionally protected weapons. (Mrs. Clinton has said she supports the Second Amendment, but she favors certain restrictions, like tighter background checks for gun buyers.)

“If she comes after the guns, it’s going to be a rough, bumpy road,” Mr. Swick said. “I hope to God I never have to fire a round, but I won’t hesitate to. As a Christian, I want reformation. But sometimes reformation comes through bloodshed.”

Donald Trump is also at war with the Republican Party which he putatively represents. It’s all about exacting his revenge against those who did not fully support “The Donald.” Jeff Greenfield writes, Can’t Wait for It to Be Over? Don’t Kid Yourself:

[Consider] the most likely result of the elections: a comfortable Clinton win, a very narrow Democratic majority in the Senate, and a reduced Republican majority in the House. Mix in the optimistic assumption that there’s at least some desire for a working relationship among Clinton and (current) GOP leaders Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan.

EddieMunsterStart with the speaker of the House. He is already facing calls for his head from the most fervent supporters of Trump, like talk show host Sean Hannity and the Breitbart News Network [running his campaign]. When the new House convenes, the Republican caucus will be even more militantly conservative than it is now, since the GOP incumbents most likely to lose are relative moderates. (Of the 22 most endangered Republicans, according to the Cook Political Report, all come from blue and purple states). Now look at how a speaker is chosen: To win, you need a majority of all House members, not just your party’s. Democrats, with a possible few exceptions, will all vote for their leader, Nancy Pelosi. If the Republicans lose 20 seats in November, they will have about 225 members. (It’s 246 right now.) If only eight or so refuse to vote for Ryan—and remember, the “no-compromise” House Freedom Caucus has some 40 members—then Ryan will not have the 218 votes he needs to hold his position.

Cartoon_19Then what, assuming he does not say “the hell with it” and leave the post? He could try to cut a deal with the House Freedom Caucus, giving them more seats at the leadership table, or a promise not to abolish the Hastert rule (which requires a majority of Republicans to sign on to any bill before it moves to passage). He could agree to disdain any compromise with the new president on any significant legislation. He could, to push the scenario one step further, agree to deploy the full “power of the purse”—including refusing to raise the debt ceiling—as a bargaining chip to force Clinton to abandon her legislative agenda.

Alternatively, he could try to find votes across the aisle, hammering out a deal with enough Democrats to give him the majority needed. (We’ve seen such tactics in state legislative chambers, including New York.) But that would almost surely ensure a spate of party challenges against any Republican House member who went along with so “corrupt” a bargain. Remember, a significant share of Republican voters—maybe a majority—will already have decided that Clinton won the presidency only through a “rigged” system, and polls will show how more party members see Trump as the legitimate voice of the party, not Ryan. So the speaker’s maneuvering room is, to put it mildly, limited.

Note: Scott Wong at The Hill also reports Ryan has little margin for error in Speaker vote. Martin Longman at the Political Animal blog has written a series of posts predicting Paul Ryan’s Speakership Will End.

Now look at the Senate. The most likely losses in the Senate will, as in the House, come from the ranks of the relative “moderates”: senators like Kirk of Illinois, Ayotte of New Hampshire, Burr of North Carolina. The most conservative senators—Cruz, Lee, Sessions—will all be there, and the idea that they are going to support compromise on matters like judicial nominees is ludicrous. (It’s also why, if the Senate remains Republican, President Clinton is likely to see just about all of her judicial nominations filed away in deep storage. Indeed, Arizona Sen. John McCain already promised as much, before stepping back from that position.) This does not augur well for any kind of “reaching across the aisle” atmosphere—especially when you remember that the Republicans see 2018 as an all but certain year when they will recapture the Senate, given how many incumbent Democrats from red states will be on the ballot defending their seats.

In fact, the GOP’s unprecedented blockade of  judicial appointments is becoming an article of faith among the right. Ilya Shapiro at The Federalist is saying that it would be “in keeping with the Senate’s constitutional duty to vote against essentially every judicial nominee [President Clinton] names.” The Senate Should Refuse To Confirm All Of Hillary Clinton’s Judicial Nominees. He also says “if a majority of senators refused to confirm anyone to any offices, or pass any legislation whatsoever, that’s their prerogative. As a matter of constitutional law, the Senate is fully within its powers to let the Supreme Court die out, literally.”

partyofnoThe Neo-Confederate secessionists of the GOP want to take their “interposition and nullification” theories of GOP obstructionism to the most extreme, in what would amount to an insurrection and rebellion against the U.S. Constitution and the federal government, not necessarily by armed civil war, but by paralyzing the federal government from within.

Donald Trump is also using the alt-right crypto-fascist media he is developing to attack the Republican Party. The GOP civil war is coming, and Trump will continue to destroy the party:

The New York Times reports that Trump allies are actively laying plans to punish the GOP leadership for failing to fully embrace Trumpism — and, crucially, to keep Trumpism’s legacy very much alive as a malevolent and disruptive political force inside the Republican Party. The Times notes that Trump campaign CEO Stephen Bannon is intent on forcing out House Speaker Paul Ryan, while other leading congressional supporters of Trump are warning the GOP leadership not to dare moderate on immigration, which could stir the great Trumpian masses to rise up in rage.

In other words, the battle lines will roughly divide between GOP leaders, party strategists, and establishment figures who are urging one set of lessons to be drawn from the defeat (that the party needs to make peace with cultural and demographic change), and Trump supporters who are urging that a very different set of lessons be drawn (that the party must embrace Trump’s species of ethno-nationalism and xenophobic, America First populism). As one congressional expert puts it: “I expect civil war within the GOP after November 8th, as party elites inside and outside of Congress jockey to assign blame and claim the GOP mantle going forward.”

* * *

The big question underlying all of this: whether defeat might crush or at least marginalize Trumpism as a force inside the party, by driving home to most mainstream GOP lawmakers, particularly in the House, that the party is staring in the face of long-term demographic doom, and that only cutting loose Trumpism can change that. . . You’d think a large enough defeat could accomplish that. But conservative writer Philip Klein makes the case that, paradoxically enough, Trump’s loss could actually strengthen the hold on GOP voters of the arguments some Trump supporters will make about his loss, making moderation even harder.

* * *

A recent Bloomberg poll found that 51 percent of Republicans and GOP-leaners say Trump better represents their view of what the GOP should stand for, while only 33 percent picked Ryan — meaning they might be open to the argument that Ryan, not Trump, was the problem that led to the latter’s inglorious defeat.

And here’s a scary scenario to contemplate: the U.S. Constitution does not require the Speaker of the House to be a member of the House (although every Speaker has been). Conceivably Trump supporters could make Donald Trump Speaker of the House, second in line of succession to the presidency. That would paint a target on Clinton and Kaine for those “Second Amendment solutions” that Trump encouraged.

Dana Milbank of the Washington Post has the right prescription for this creeping Trumpism (fascism): Trump can’t just be defeated. He must be humiliated.

Donald Trump is running against democracy itself.

Here, in the land of Barry Goldwater, democracy is fighting back.

* * *

As a matter of math, Arizona is irrelevant: If Clinton is doing well enough to win here, she will already have locked up the election elsewhere. But if Trump is to be denied in his bid to subvert democratic institutions by claiming a rigged election, he needs to be defeated resoundingly, removing all doubt. Clinton needs to run up the score.

The need to deal Trump a humiliating defeat has a sociological basis in the “degradation ceremony,” in which the perpetrator (Trump) is held by denouncers (officeholders and others in positions of influence) to be morally unacceptable, and witnesses (the public) agree that the perpetrator is no longer held in good standing.

Psychologist Wynn Schwartz, who teaches at Harvard Medical School, explained to me that what’s needed to have a successful degradation of Trump is an epic defeat. “If it is lopsided enough,” he said, “you don’t have critical masses of people who feel disenfranchised” or “who feel justified in saying that it was stolen.”

* * *

Arizona would offer an ideal rebuke. Carolyn Goldwater Ross, granddaughter of the conservative icon, introduced Obama on Thursday by saying, “I come from a long line of Republicans and I’ve stayed independent. . . . But this time it’s different.” She submitted that Trump violates her grandfather’s “basic values.”

* * *

The first lady, in her [Phoenix] speech, reached out to Republicans offended by Trump’s disregard for the democratic process. “Our democracy is revered around the world, and free elections are the best way on Earth to choose our leaders,” she said. “This is how we elected John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, two George Bushes, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.”

That’s right. This isn’t Trump vs. Clinton but Trump vs. Democracy. And the way to degrade the threat is to defeat Trump, convincingly.

The best way to hand Trump an epic defeat is to vote a straight Democratic ticket. Make all of those enablers of Donald Trump in the GOP pay the consequence for their cowardly actions by voting them out of office. Defend democracy or lose it.


  1. Interesting perspective. The problem for me is I would have to vote for Hillary, which I just cannot do. Good plan, otherwise.

    As to violence at the polling places, I have to laugh at that. So far, all the violent acts have been carried out against Trump associated offices and icons, not the other way around. As for the two nut cases talking armed revolution, you can find those guys anytime, anywhere. Having a lot of guns hardly makes you more dangerous…you can only shoot one at a time and they are very heavy to carry around so you can’t carry more than a couple, either. I would bet you could find some democrat supporters who talk the same way if you looked for them. Armed revolutions take a lot of effort and Americans are too lazy and ill prepared to carry one out.

    Anyway, AzBM, this is one of your better postings. Very thought provoking.

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