They Were Going to Bulldoze the American Republic for This Guy

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Photo credit: Douglas P. DeFelice - Getty Images
Photo credit: Douglas P. DeFelice - Getty Images

You ever think about how they were going to bulldoze the American republic for this guy? A rich-kid failson who inherited all his daddy's cash and squandered it many times over before clawing himself back into putative solvency through a game-show hosting gig where he pretended to be a businessman, all the while treating people—especially women—like absolute dog shit everywhere he went for his entire life? It's almost like the aggressive mediocrity was part of the appeal, a statement of power, that a guy who knew nothing about anything and nodded along as someone called his own daughter a "piece of ass" on the radio could still become president if he said the right things about the right people. Of course, it was only possible through the absurd technicalities generated by our system of electing our presidents.

It was that same system that Trump's people tried to exploit when, in 2020, he lost the Electoral College vote in addition to the popular vote he'd also lost in 2016. They just could not accept that, while the College had allowed Trump to get way closer to re-election than anyone who loses by 7 million actual citizens' votes ever should, he'd come up short. Joe Biden's win was illegitimate to these folks because, at this point, any Democrat winning and wielding power is illegitimate. That's why every election is declared "rigged" now before it happens. That's why right-wingers are going on TV to laugh at the idea a Democrat could legitimately win an election in California(?). That's why Republican state legislatures have repeatedly moved to strip offices, including governors, of their power before a Democrat who won an election is installed. Donald Trump could not have lost because the Real Americans voted for him. Everything works backward from there, including John Eastman's memo.

Photo credit: Douglas P. DeFelice - Getty Images
Photo credit: Douglas P. DeFelice - Getty Images

Eastman was one of the many lawyers aiding Trump in his campaign to overturn the results of a free and fair election, and seems to have taken an integral role in the final act: stopping Congress from certifying the election results on January 6. Eastman drew up a detailed plan for Vice President Mike Pence to stop the election certification singlehandedly—for one man to wield his power in order to seize it from the people, a comfortable majority of whom voted for Joe Biden and imbued in him the democratic legitimacy of the people's will. In Eastman's second bullet point, there's just a frankly astounding phrase: "This would be the first break with the procedure set out in the Act." There are some structural weaknesses to the Electoral Count Act, on the books since 1887, but it seems clear enough that the law was not a concern anyway. Trump had to be installed as president for another four years. Everything else was an obstacle or window dressing.

They were just going to make their guy—that guy—the president even though the other guy won. That's where we're at. For some of the True Believers, there probably really was "fraud," if only as a kind of defense mechanism against the notion that millions more of their fellow citizens were interested in Not Trump than Trump. For others, it may well have been a means to an end, a way to cling onto the power and influence and money that you get while lurking around the splash zone of those more powerful than you are. But the fact remains that for a sizable constituency in this country, the outcome of the legal democratic process is a sideshow to the main event of who has power. The latter question can be settled by means other than who gets the support of a majority of citizens, including using the same laws meant to organize the democratic process to undermine it. Gerrymandering, voting restrictions, wielding power through the courts. We're in a whole new place now. Do even the Democrats understand?

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