Sunday, November 01, 2020

Unbreaking the election that could break America

 Reading The Election That Could Break America will turn your stomach. I think even Barton Gellman thinks none of his three main scenarios are likely to occur, but just the risk that our democracy could go from being deformed as it was in 2000 and 2016 to truly broken is bad enough.

So I want to think about what to do about it. His third scenario is the most likely so I'll deal with it for now. In this scenario, even with dubious challenges of individual ballots, Republicans look like they'll lose the necessary states to win the Electoral College. However, they control the state legislatures in those states. The Republican legislatures therefore make up a bunch of lies about voter fraud, claim the Republicans won their state, and on that basis appoint Republican electors, and not the Democratic ones chosen by the ballot. As the article outlines, potential legal chaos ensues, possibly ending with Biden, Trump, and Pelosi all having plausible claims to the presidency, and factors other than the law may take over. The Republicans are already exploring this, at least in Pennsylvania.

So, first things first: false claims of fraud are themselves fraudulent. Legislatures using false claims of fraud to overturn the choice of the people are no different from ballot-stuffing, or from hacking software to change the results. It's not "republic not a democracy" bull, it's banana-republic turned dictatorship. 

 I've previously and recently condemned some Lawyers Guns and Money bloggers and commenters for their enthusiastic support of violence (usually done by others, not themselves) to beat up Americans they despise. In this case, I won't take a violent response completely off the table, although it should only be the last response to violence by the dictatorship. So yes, kind of a big deal.

Unbreaking this means stopping the Republican legislatures from making it happen, and I see several weak points. First, the Republicans haven't laid a lot of groundwork. They certainly haven't talked to dozens of legislators in three or four states or we'd be hearing a lot more about it - these people leak like sieves. So the Republicans don't know what support they will actually get from legislators. Those Republicans legislators have to decide if they're going to support a coup or not. Getting them on the record ASAP might help make it difficult.

Two other factors might also help. First, unless I misunderstand this, the Republican legislators can claim the vote count is fraudulent and therefore they'll choose electors themselves for the presidential election, but they can't do the same thing for their own election. I think it will be hard to claim the same votes that are fine for seating the Pennsylvania legislature are invalid for choosing Pennsylvania's electors. The fact that Republicans are running the electoral process themselves will also make it hard to claim it's inaccurate.

The second overlapping factor is more about self-interest: some Republicans might be losing shortly after Nov. 3, and still hope the late votes might end up in their favor. Probably not, but not definitely, so it's in their interest for those votes to count on the outside chance they'll win. Again I suppose they could say that somehow the late votes are only legitimate on the state level, but that gets pretty thin.

One last thought - Dems should make it pretty clear to key Republican legislators who do the right thing that despite whatever happens to them in the legislature, they won't suffer. Jobs can be found for them. Doing the right thing shouldn't require rewards, but this is not the time to get up on a pedestal.

7 comments:

David B. Benson said...

That, Brian, is most frightening.

Snape said...

Thanks, Brian

Your posts mean a lot right now. Misery loves company, I suppose.

Unknown said...

Thanks! I feel a little guilty about not posting about climate, but I'll get back to it....

Tom said...

General strike if things go south.

Barton Paul Levenson said...

Amen, Tom.

THE CLIMATE WARS said...

THE PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN !
https://vvattsupwiththat.blogspot.com/2020/11/the-people-have-spoken-biden-carries.html

Snape said...

I might need to take advantage of the new law:

https://katu.com/news/your-voice-your-vote/oregon-becomes-first-state-to-legalize-psilocybin-for-therapeutic-use