About an hour before Trump said this on TV, a friend who’s worked on analyzing elections for a long time emailed with the subject header “We’ve had a good run as a country.”
I didn’t even need to read the message to know what he meant. I knew.
I’m not sure much needs to be added to what Ken White said either:
Even under a best case scenario, we’re not coming all the way back from this.
— CoronaInItalyHat (@Popehat) September 23, 2020
That’s correct. My earnest advice to anyone who’s not bound to stay put here in the U.S. because of family or employment ties from which they simply can’t extricate themselves is to think seriously about leaving. And I don’t mean “think seriously of leaving if Trump wins.” I mean think seriously of leaving, period. Because even if he loses by 250 electoral votes, more than 60 million people will have watched him say stuff like this for months, insisting repeatedly that any defeat can only be explained by cheating, and will vote. for. him. anyway.
There’s no coming all the way back from that, even though Trump will eventually leave the political scene one way or another. Anyone who’s willing to look the other way at what he says here is willing to look the other way at much worse, and that’s an enormous population. That’s the reason to leave.
The President is asked to commit to a peaceful transfer of power and his answer falls incredibly short pic.twitter.com/y8XbL8ci9k
— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) September 23, 2020
By tomorrow, the right’s anti-anti-Trump faction will have long forgotten this clip, assuming they noted it at all. They’ll be right back to the task of confirming Amy Coney Barrett followed by a glorious November victory in which Trump will once again get millions fewer votes than his opponent and then govern as if his approval rating is 80 percent.
Speaking of which, he explained earlier today why it’s so important for him to have a ninth justice on the Court before November. Interestingly, this wasn’t a concern for the GOP in 2016, when they preferred an eight-person Court to one with Merrick Garland in Scalia’s seat. Trump wants a full house this time, though, for a specific reason:
.@POTUS: "I think this will end up in the Supreme Court. & I think it's very important that we have 9 Justices. & I think the system is going to go very quickly. I'll be submitting at 5 o'clock on Saturday, the name of the person I chose for this most important of positions." pic.twitter.com/v1veiqU2Mm
— CSPAN (@cspan) September 23, 2020
He wants his nominee to be the fifth vote for him in invalidating contested ballots that might give Biden the presidency. He made the same point yesterday in another gaggle with reporters. Why any fan of Amy Coney Barrett would want her placed in that horrendous situation, knowing what it would do to public perceptions of her and of the Supreme Court if she cast that vote — or if she refused to cast it — I can’t imagine.
If it does happen, with Trump’s eleventh-hour bizarro-Garland appointee becoming the deciding vote that assures him a second term, we’ll be in a new era in American history. I’m not trying to be dramatic in saying that. It just is what it is. The country will be ungovernable.
The Atlantic has a worst-case-scenario piece out today about what Trump might conceivably try to do in the name of clinging to power. Some were scoffing at it this morning on political Twitter as resistance fanfic but I don’t know why. Go watch the clip above again. Why would anyone put anything past him at this point?
According to sources in the Republican Party at the state and national levels, the Trump campaign is discussing contingency plans to bypass election results and appoint loyal electors in battleground states where Republicans hold the legislative majority. With a justification based on claims of rampant fraud, Trump would ask state legislators to set aside the popular vote and exercise their power to choose a slate of electors directly. The longer Trump succeeds in keeping the vote count in doubt, the more pressure legislators will feel to act before the safe-harbor deadline expires…
The Trump-campaign legal adviser I spoke with told me the push to appoint electors would be framed in terms of protecting the people’s will. Once committed to the position that the overtime count has been rigged, the adviser said, state lawmakers will want to judge for themselves what the voters intended.
“The state legislatures will say, ‘All right, we’ve been given this constitutional power. We don’t think the results of our own state are accurate, so here’s our slate of electors that we think properly reflect the results of our state,’ ” the adviser said. Democrats, he added, have exposed themselves to this stratagem by creating the conditions for a lengthy overtime.
Far-fetched? Maybe. Righties countered by noting a report last month that Democrats had wargamed a scenario in which John Podesta, in the role of Joe Biden, simply refused to concede the election after losing the electoral college narrowly to Trump and convinced the governors of Wisconsin and Michigan to send pro-Biden electors to the electoral college. (The scenario ended with talk of secession.) That’s a hair-raising reminder that, for all of their talk of norms, Trump’s enemies are often too eager to abandon norms themselves in the name of dealing him a blow. But I don’t recall high-level GOPers wargaming secession scenarios in case Obama refused to hand over power, nor do I remember high-level Democrats wargaming secession outcomes in case Dubya refused to go. There was no question with either that they’d follow tradition and hand over power to the other party. It’s the fact that the current guy cares nothing about traditions, and palpably cannot psychologically tolerate losing a national popularity contest, that stuff like this is now being gamed out. He’s capable of anything, so his adversaries feel pressure to be capable of anything too. He’s been a chaos agent from the start. We elected him anyway, and now we get our reward.
Here’s your exit quotation from a Times article last month after the convention, when people like me were complaining about him trashing another norm, using the physical symbol of his office as a campaign prop. This is who he is, and this is why we’re now facing a national emergency.
— Isaac Chotiner (@IChotiner) August 29, 2020