Trump sort of endorses Stacey Abrams

It makes sense. They’re the two biggest sore losers in American politics.

And if she wins next year, it won’t be the first time Trump has handed a seat in Georgia to the Democrats.

I’m impressed by his commitment to turning that state blue. That’s another thing he and Abrams have in common.

From last night’s rally in Perry:

That wasn’t the only moment when he endorsed Abrams over Brian Kemp. “Stacey, would you like to take his place? It’s OK with me,” he said elsewhere during his speech. (He also called on David Perdue to challenge Kemp at one point.) Watching that and remembering how narrow Kemp’s victory over Abrams was in 2018, you’re left to wonder how the governor can possibly win the general election next year even if he survives his primary. All it would take is a few percentage points’ worth of hardcore Trumpers to stay home in order to send Abrams to victory, and here’s Trump himself all but encouraging them to do so.

The personality cult is becoming a political death cult for the party. Local Republicans are irate:

Some Trumpers insisted on social media last night that he was joking. Was he? It’s a half-joke at best. He won’t formally endorse Abrams over Kemp next year, I assume, but it’s a cinch that he won’t endorse Kemp either. Ironically, he’s landed in the same place as his antagonists, the Never Trumpers, by being willing to condone Democratic victory for some greater good. For Never Trumpers, the greater good is convincing Republican voters that MAGA-style illiberalism and authoritarianism is a political loser.

For Trump, the greater good is taking personal revenge on Republicans who refused to help him stage a coup last fall. He’s still lying about the election results to justify that coup attempt, going so far last night as to also lie about the outcome of the audit conducted in Maricopa County that was supposed to verify that fraud occurred but didn’t:

Only Trump knows whether his continued lying is strategic or a simpler case of a supreme narcissist being unable to cope with losing a popularity contest, but it has a strategic benefit to him even if there’s no strategic intent. He’s making Republicans’ willingness to overturn an election on his behalf a basic litmus test of party loyalty, so much so that he’s willing to quasi-endorse a loathed progressive like Abrams over a conservative like Kemp. Other GOP officials have gotten the message. Jody Hice, who’s primarying Brad Raffensperger, said of Raffensperger last night, “He has opened wide the door for all sorts of irregularities and fraud to march into our election system, and it’s time we take charge of this.” That’s an Orwellian inversion of the truth, which is that Raffensperger refused to tamper with the election results in Georgia in the interest of handing the state to Trump. What Hice is really saying when he wheezes about “fraud” is that, if he’s elected secretary of state, he’ll tamper with the vote to facilitate a Trump-led coup in 2024 if it comes to that.

And if it does, he won’t be the only one.

Robert Kagan sees the crisis coming:

[T]he amateurish “stop the steal” efforts of 2020 have given way to an organized nationwide campaign to ensure that Trump and his supporters will have the control over state and local election officials that they lacked in 2020. Those recalcitrant Republican state officials who effectively saved the country from calamity by refusing to falsely declare fraud or to “find” more votes for Trump are being systematically removed or hounded from office. Republican legislatures are giving themselves greater control over the election certification process. As of this spring, Republicans have proposed or passed measures in at least 16 states that would shift certain election authorities from the purview of the governor, secretary of state or other executive-branch officers to the legislature. An Arizona bill flatly states that the legislature may “revoke the secretary of state’s issuance or certification of a presidential elector’s certificate of election” by a simple majority vote. Some state legislatures seek to impose criminal penalties on local election officials alleged to have committed “technical infractions,” including obstructing the view of poll watchers.

The stage is thus being set for chaos. Imagine weeks of competing mass protests across multiple states as lawmakers from both parties claim victory and charge the other with unconstitutional efforts to take power. Partisans on both sides are likely to be better armed and more willing to inflict harm than they were in 2020. Would governors call out the National Guard? Would President Biden nationalize the Guard and place it under his control, invoke the Insurrection Act, and send troops into Pennsylvania or Texas or Wisconsin to quell violent protests? Deploying federal power in the states would be decried as tyranny. Biden would find himself where other presidents have been — where Andrew Jackson was during the nullification crisis, or where Abraham Lincoln was after the South seceded — navigating without rules or precedents, making his own judgments about what constitutional powers he does and doesn’t have.

Liz Cheney lost her leadership position in the House Republican caucus and will lose her House seat next year because, it was said, she couldn’t “move on” from the election. But that was never true. It’s Trump who hasn’t moved on. Cheney simply refused to stop calling him on it, as nearly every other member of her party has, because she sees the next coup attempt on the horizon and is doing what little she can to avert it. He lost, he can’t get over it, and he wants to know that if he loses again his party will end democracy in the United States next time before it allows him to lose power. There’s ample reason to believe that they’ll try.

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