Jonathan Freedland*1 “Trump’s forces are preparing for the next storming of the Capitol. This time, they plan to win” https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/jun/10/donald-trump-storming-capitol-democracy-6-january
(,,,,,,) those around Trump knew that the animating cause of this violence was a lie. They knew that Biden had won and Trump had lost. Trump’s attorney general, William Barr, testified that he regarded the claim that the 2020 election was stolen as “bullshit”. Trump’s daughter Ivanka agreed. Plenty of those Republicans in Congress who went along with the lie knew it was garbage – and they knew that they were breaking their oath in indulging it. The investigators revealed that “multiple” Republican congressmen had hastily sought presidential pardons from Trump for what they did, namely trying to overturn a legitimate election.
The most obvious proof is Trump himself. He’s had some setbacks in this primary season, where his favoured candidates in internal party contests have not always prevailed, but his dominance of the Republican party endures. Most assume that if Trump wants to be the Republican presidential nominee in 2024, he will be. Of course, he remains utterly unrepentant about the events of 6 January. On the eve of Thursday’s hearing, he posted on his new social media site that that day “represented the greatest movement in the history of our Country to Make America Great Again”.
But even if Trump does not regain, or attempt to regain, the presidency, he is still part of the US’s future. Whatever his next moves personally, Trumpism is now the defining creed of the Republican tribe. Polls find hefty majorities of Republican voters believing the lie, adamant that Trump was the real winner in 2020. Whether the nominee is the former president himself or a more disciplined politician – the likes of Florida governor Ron DeSantis – Trumpism, with its commitment to permanent culture war and its contempt for democratic norms, is now a central feature of the American landscape.
But here’s why these current hearings should be regarded less as a past judgment than a future warning. On 6 January, the determination of the pro-Trump forces to subvert a democratic election was not in doubt. They failed only because enough restraints were in place to thwart them, whether it was state-level election officials determined to count the votes, and count them fairly, or a court system that threw out wholly groundless claims of electoral fraud. But 2024 will not be the same as 2020. Because Republicans have been busy.
Methodically and across the US, Republicans have been working to dismantle the guardrails that keep American democracy on track. In 2021 alone, at least 19 Republican-ruled states passed measures whose official purpose was tackling (nonexistent) voter fraud but whose practical effect will be voter suppression, making it harder for low-income and minority Americans in particular to cast a ballot – and those efforts are continuing*2.
More alarmingly, several Republican state legislatures have sought to put themselves or their allies in charge of what used to be non-partisan election machinery, installing Republicans – including “stop the steal” Trump loyalists – in the offices where votes get counted and certified*3. Worse, there are moves to make state legislatures the sole authority over elections, cutting out the courts altogether: so the Republicans who dominate, say, the Wisconsin legislature could decide that they and they alone will allocate the state’s electoral votes, regardless of who Wisconsin’s citizens actually voted for. Rerun 2020 in this new, altered environment and states that held firm in 2020, giving Biden the victory he had legitimately won, could hand power in 2024 to the loser.
*1:See also https://sumねんita-m.hatenadiary.com/entry/20050720 https://sumita-m.hatenadiary.com/entry/20050731 https://sumita-m.hatenadiary.com/entry/20130429/1367212008 https://sumita-m.hatenadiary.com/entry/20140923/1411443853 https://sumita-m.hatenadiary.com/entry/20161121/1479707976
*2:See Brennan Center for Justice “Voting Laws Roundup: December 2021” https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/voting-laws-roundup-december-2021
*3:See David Daley “Seven ways Republicans are already undermining the 2024 election” https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/jan/10/republicans-election-democracy-seven-ways-trump