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The function of criticism at the present time


I have zero sympathy for Liz Cheney: she did everything she could to help re-elected the man who said over and over again that he would not recognize the legitimacy of any election he lost, so getting tossed because she objected to Donald Trump doing exactly what Donald Trump always said he would do doesn’t make her even a cut-rate martyr.

But that’s not the issue here. The issue is that the various local, state, and national organs of the Republican party are going to steal the 2024 presidential election, unless they are stopped.

Here’s how they’ll do it:

(1) Simple voter suppression. The state-level laws now being passed in places like Georgia and Florida are designed to disenfranchise enough Democratic voters to ensure the “legitimate” victory of the Republican candidate. This is just straight up Jim Crow revisited, and passing the VRA is utterly crucial in regard to combatting this. I don’t know what needs to be done for/to Manchin and Sinema to make that happen, but the urgency of making them see the light can’t be overstated.

(2) Republican state legislatures refusing to certify Democratic slates of electors post-election. This is arguably legal because of our ridiculous Constitution. What needs to happen here is an all-out assault on those arguments, that will ideally lead to federal legislation making it clear that state legislatures can’t ignore the results of presidential elections in their own states. Again, this requires the Senate voting to get rid of the filibuster, which at this point is simply identical to voting to maintain some tenuous semblance of democracy in this country.

(3) A Republican-controlled Congress uses the Electoral Count Act (which is a complete mess of a statute btw) to throw the election to the individual state delegations in the House of Representatives, which would of course then choose the Republican candidate, despite that candidate losing both the popular and the Electoral College vote.

The Republican party is going to do this if it can. It will do this if Donald Trump is its 2024 presidential candidate, and it will do it if a Trump-anointed successor is instead. (As for the possibility that the candidate will be somebody who isn’t part of the Trump cult, forget it Jake).

One delusion that needs to be dispensed with is that there’s some sort of “civil war” happening now in the party, between the Trumpers and anti-Trumpers. Even an establishment figure like Jeff Greenfield sees clearly that stories in the elite mainstream media to that effect are just evidence-free wishcasting, very similar in this regard to how no Important Person could believe that Ronald Reagan could actually get elected president.

And again, it’s irrelevant whether Trump himself is the Republican candidate. In this regard, Trump’s embrace of anti-democratic ethno-nationalist authoritarian Christianism is symptomatic, not causal. Donald Trump exists because if he didn’t, it would have been necessary to invent him.

Stopping the Republican party from openly stealing the 2024 election is first and foremost a matter of making it as clear as possible to the American public that this is what they are planning to do. We need to pass laws to help stop this from happening, but we also need to prime other institutions, such as the courts and the military, to use what power they have to stop it from happening.

This is, needless to say, problematic. Commenter CP put the matter well yesterday:

The problem is, if Biden quite clearly wins but Republicans refuse to certify it, it’s no longer quite clear that Biden wins. Our shit-show of a constitution is murky enough that Republicans will argue that the states have the right to select their slate of electors, tell them how to vote, or whatever, and if the Supreme Court sides with them, then as far as a big chunk of the country and certainly the military is concerned, that’s the ball game.

It would be fundamentally illegitimate in the same way that all dictatorships are, but it would be legal under the existing system, or at least close enough to it that counting on the military and civil service to refuse to enforce the decision is a mug’s game. And trying to keep Biden in the White House in the face of that would be viewed by the 10% or so of the swing vote, not to mention a fair amount of “too broad minded to take their own side in a quarrel” Democrats themselves, as identical to Trump trying to stay in the White House despite all the T’s being crossed an I’s being dotted for Biden. “Both sides do it,” after all.

That’s the problem right there, or one of them anyway, and there’s no easy solution to it, because there’s no easy solution to how to deal via legal means with a party that is willing to use all legal, semi-legal, and illegal means to stay in power. But that is what we’re dealing with in the United States today.

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