The Ongoing Republican Plot to Steal the Election
While the 1/6 hearings are rightly focused on Trump and 2020, we can't lose sight of what the rest of the GOP is planning for 2024
I was more than a little impressed by the work of the January 6th Committee. Their presentation was articulate, concise and dramatic. They clearly thought about how to make the case in a digital media environment where getting attention is paramount — and really damn hard. Twenty million people tuned into the first Primetime hearing. To put that into perspective, that’s more people than watched the NCAA Final Four, the Oscars, or any of the NBA Finals games to date. A truly impressive feat. The hearings also drove the conversation on Facebook, where MAGA messaging reigns supreme. According to the FWIW newsletter, the top six performing Facebook posts in the 24 hours after the first hearing were from progressive pages.
The Committee is doing an excellent job of highlighting Donald Trump’s personal culpability in the criminal conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election. Hopefully, Trump and his co-conspirators will be held legally accountable for those actions. However, as the hearings proceed, it is essential they draw attention to the plot’s continuance after Joe Biden was sworn into office. There is ongoing collusion to steal the 2024 Presidential election; and this time, the entire Republican Party is on board.
They are All in on It
There is a general narrative within the mainstream political press that only the most-Trumpy Republicans believe the Big Lie. The idea is that Republican politicians afraid of the wrath of Trump, Tucker Carlson and others are doing MAGA-karaoke solely for political survival. The GOP winks and nods at Trump; and the press covering these Republicans winks and nods as well. It’s all a big joke.
This mentality was embodied by a quote given to the Washington Post after the election (but before January 6th):
What is the downside for humoring him for this little bit of time? No one seriously thinks the results will change. He went golfing this weekend. It’s not like he’s plotting how to prevent Joe Biden from taking power on Jan. 20. He’s tweeting about filing some lawsuits, those lawsuits will fail, then he’ll tweet some more about how the election was stolen, and then he’ll leave.
It wasn’t fear of a mean tweet that led Republicans to “humor” Trump. Control of the Senate was up for grabs in the two Georgia special elections. Mitch McConnell and others were afraid to anger Trump and deflate his base. Abiding by the Big Lie was the cost of possibly winning the Senate. In the end, this cynical dishonesty led to the assault on the Capitol and the loss of life.
However, no lessons were learned.
Despite a brief moment where most in the party condemned Trump, there was no impeachment, no accountability, and the party continues to stand by Trump. But it gets worse. If in 2020, the Republicans “humored” Trump in his efforts to steal the election, in 2022, they are actively helping him do it.
Across the country, the Republican Party is recruiting, backing, and funding candidates who push the Big Lie. According to an account in the Washington Post:
District by district, state by state, voters in places that cast ballots through the end of May have chosen at least 108 candidates for statewide office or Congress who have repeated Trump’s lies. The number jumps to at least 149 winning candidates — out of more than 170 races — when it includes those who have campaigned on a platform of tightening voting rules or more stringently enforcing those already on the books, despite the lack of evidence of widespread fraud.
In Michigan, a GOP candidate for governor was just arrested in their home for participating in the insurrection. Doug Mastriano, the Republican gubernatorial nominee in Pennsylvania, ran on a promise to award Pennslvania’s 19 electoral votes to the Republican nominee no matter whom the voters choose. The Republicans roaming the halls of Congress either openly question the integrity of the election or refuse to answer the question. Very few, if any, are willing to state the simple incontrovertible fact that Joe Biden is the legitimate President of the United States.
The emergence of Mastriano and his ilk is often portrayed as a victory for the MAGA extremists. A victory over the more staid and grounded Republican establishment. However, that’s bullshit. This is a difference in approach, not outcome. The Republican Party is perfectly comfortable with overturning the next election, but wish the MAGA-wing would be more subtle in their approach. McConnell’s view is that real insurrectionists move in silence (like lasagna).
Former Trump campaign consiglieri Steve Bannon promised to take over the “election apparatus” precinct by precinct across the country. Bannon is a bigoted blowhard infatuated with the sound of his own voice.
But Bannon’s threat isn’t empty. Based on video tapes acquired by Politico, the Republican National Committee is implementing his plan. According to the report:
Video recordings of Republican Party operatives meeting with grassroots activists provide an inside look at a multi-pronged strategy to target and potentially overturn votes in Democratic precincts: Install trained recruits as regular poll workers and put them in direct contact with party attorneys.
The plan, as outlined by a Republican National Committee staffer in Michigan, includes utilizing rules designed to provide political balance among poll workers to install party-trained volunteers prepared to challenge voters at Democratic-majority polling places, developing a website to connect those workers to local lawyers and establishing a network of party-friendly district attorneys who could intervene to block vote counts at certain precincts.
This isn’t some MAGA faction of the party or a grifting pro-Trump Super PAC. TheRepublican National Party apparatus, run by Mitt Romney’s niece, requires the full cooperation and support of Mitch McConnell, Kevin McCarthy, Republicans in Congress and statehouses. The Republicans are not only complicit out of cowardice, they are active participants in the plot to steal the 2024 election. Trump is a very specific threat to the country. He should be in a federal penitentiary not the White House, but he is also a potential distraction. As these hearings progress, we must look beyond Trump and January 6th. The threat is ongoing, and more grave than it was in 2020.