If you really want to appreciate the insanity of what we’re witnessing right now, just play the alternative scenario in your head.
Had President Barack Obama lost to Mitt Romney in 2012 by over seven million votes, suffered a 306-232 Electoral college shellacking, yet insisted he was the rightful winner, accusing the Republican Party of a massive and fraudulent campaign to undermine him, all while refusing to concede the election, you don’t really need to think too hard to comprehend how this whole sorry episode in our country’s history would have played out.
If something so ridiculous and far-fetched ever occurred, Democrats wouldn’t have waited to remove him, they would have done it themselves. They wouldn’t have waited for the Republican Party to cry and scream about it. He would have been banished from political life and never spoken of again.
So despite the Supreme Court’s ruling, wiping out this latest attempt by the GOP to subvert and destroy our country, there’s really something unspeakably terrible about this moment. It’s bad enough as it is, but it’s actually getting worse, Supreme Court rulings notwithstanding.
By now many people have put their finger on what’s going on here. Basically, the Republican Party has shown its true colors. In a way, perhaps, we should thank Donald Trump for bringing this out in the cold light, for all to see.
As Adam Serwer, writing for The Atlantic, cannily observes, the message that is being sent by the Republicans here is that your vote was fraudulent if the person you voted for wasn’t Donald Trump. And more specifically, your vote was fraudulent if you are not white.
To Trump’s strongest supporters, Biden’s win is a fraud because his voters should not count to begin with, and because the Democratic Party is not a legitimate political institution that should be allowed to wield power even if they did.This is why the authoritarian remedies festering in the Trump fever swamps—martial law, the usurpation of state electors, Supreme Court fiat—are so openly contemplated. Because the true will of the people is that Trump remain president, forcing that outcome, even in the face of defeat, is a fulfillment of democracy rather than its betrayal.
The Republican base’s fundamental belief, the one that Trump used to win them over in the first place, the one that ties the election conspiracy theory to birtherism and to Trump’s sneering attack on the Squad’s citizenship, is that Democratic victories do not count, because Democratic voters are not truly American. It’s no accident that the Trump campaign’s claims have focused almost entirely on jurisdictions with high Black populations.
To Republicans, only white votes matter now. Are you wondering why you haven’t heard any accusations about voter fraud in the suburban counties surrounding Philadelphia, for example, which helped Joe Biden win Pennsylvania? There are no such accusations, because those areas are predominantly white.
Back to our imagined scenario: If Barack Obama had attempted this, the Republican Party would long since have lined up in unison, braying for his head on a platter. There would be no reticence in calling this exactly what it is: treachery, treason, sedition of the highest order.
Republicans wouldn’t be demanding hearings. From the top of the GOP leadership down, they’d be demanding an inquisition. They’d be urging all of their constituents to flood the streets.
But back in our real world, Democrats have been remarkably quiet about what is happening. Perhaps it’s an expectation that this will all blow over, once the Electoral College votes on Monday. Perhaps the thinking is, following the lead of Joe Biden, Democrats want to project an air of professionalism and capability while the Republicans make fools of themselves. Perhaps they’re inclined to just let the media do the castigating for them. Perhaps, as some have suggested, they feel as if their Republican counterparts are only behaving this way because they know their efforts will be unsuccessful.
I don’t understand this thinking. It seems ridiculously naive, particularly under these times of unprecedented crisis, where thousands of Americans are dying in hospitals every single day.
The Republicans have embraced fascism. I don’t know how many times it’s going to be necessary to say this. I don’t know how it can be said more clearly. There will not be any cooperation with these people. They’ve sold their souls. Fascists are impervious to reason, shame or argument. The only thing they understand is power when it’s used against them.
The Democratic Party represents the majority—by a considerable margin—of the American voting public. As diverse as our coalition is, it is in fact the majority, and it needs to behave like a majority. We—not the Republicans—were the millions who marched in the streets of Washington, D.C. in 2017. We—not the Republicans—were the millions who marched in every major city in the country—and practically every other place in the country—in opposition to racism and police brutality. We—not the Republicans—were the ones who flooded the polls in 2018, and again in 2020, finally throwing this abomination out of office.
A majority has power, and it knows when to use it.
What the Republicans are doing has been, and is, intolerable. Any Republican—at the state level, the federal level, or in any other capacity—should be made to understand that they have betrayed the country. They need to know that they will be viewed and treated like people who have betrayed their country—for the rest of their political careers. They need to be made to understand that they will face the consequences of their 2020 treachery for the rest of their lives.
Unless and until that happens, they will continue to mock us, to disenfranchise us, knowing that we will sit back in fear, relying on our fragile “institutions” to protect us. And then they will try it again.