In a damning and treasonous call, President Trump laid out his game plan to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger: "So look. All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have because we won the state."
The Republican Secretary of State did his job and did not budge. Such acts of conviction mean Trump is not going to get the coup he wanted. (We've always said pro-Democracy creates unusual bedfellows and this is the case — Brad Raffensperger has been solid on preventing Trump from stealing the election, though he's still very bad on voter access.)
The transcript, released by the Washington Post, shows Trump as a man convinced he cannot lose ("There's no way I lost Georgia. There's no way."). He repeats myths and easily debunked conspiracy theories.
The most likely outcome remains: President Trump will vacate the White House on January 20. He will take with him a significant portion of the public who will believe he is the legitimate President, but we do not believe he is close to changing the outcome of the election.
Many major pillars of society have moved on. Ten former defense secretaries have urged acceptance of the election result. The current military has continued to reiterate that it will not step in to resolve a political dispute. Notably, 170 business executives sent a public letterurging Congress to quickly accept the election results. Other business groups concurred, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The courts have reduced Trump's attempts to legal ashes.
Outside of a loyal base and a torn Republican party, there are no significant pillars of society supporting Trump's claims.
All that is left is the typically boring approval on January 6 of the election results. To throw out state's electors would require a majority of the House and the Senate — a political impossibility.
A statement of ten bipartisan senators noted the political math does not get near overturning the results. The signatories included Republicans Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Mitt Romney of Utah. Their votes alone would be determinative.
But stalwart Trump backers like Mitch McConnell have found Trump's actions finally a bridge too far. Mitch has been trying to corral the Senate away from a public fight. Many Republican Senators have slammed this dangerous political stunt (Axios and AP both quote the extensive Republican opposition to Trump).
Still, 140 members of the House of Representatives may go along with Trump's attempt to decertify certain states, and rumors suggest upwards of a dozen Senators say they may join, too.
Those numbers remain very far from a tipping point to overturn the election. But this actually may be why the number of objectors is growing. It's a way to appeal to an angry, radical base without changing any outcomes.
In a scathing Facebook post, Republican Senator Ben Sasse said: "When we talk in private, I haven't heard a single Congressional Republican allege that the election results were fraudulent — not one. Instead, I hear them talk about their worries about how they will 'look' to President Trump's most ardent supporters."
The danger isn't a successful coup. We won that battle. The danger is that public trust in our democracy is being degraded by blatant lies and an echo chamber devoid of fact-checking.
Here we're in different territory than stopping a coup. We're seeing blistering splits in the Republican Party. We see a rise in a right-wing media echo chamber's ability to create myths like a "stolen election" out of thin air, devoid of hard facts and unwilling to self-correct. We see polarization that makes it harder to interact and engage meaningfully with each other. If unchecked these could prove fatal to democracy; it certainly means we will have more political instability and uncertainty in the future.
These shameful ploys do not merit the kind of national mass mobilization to stop a coup. Those could severely backfire by giving Trump an excuse to call in the troops.
The deeper work of preserving and expanding our democracy remains ahead: fighting for greater voter access, working to transform the media landscape, and pressuring politicians to reform the electoral system. Contact your House and Senate representatives — especially if you live in a Republican district — to send a message that Trump supporters are not the only ones they have to worry about in the next election.
It's not a miracle that Trump's coup won't work. It didn't work because we built a context that made it harder (and yes, some of their own lack of planning and incompetence played a role).
We think in the coming days we'll be able to breathe easier about a peaceful (if ungracious) transfer of power, but the work of Democracy very much lies ahead.
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