A growing number of Americans feel the blatant attempts to ignore the Constitution and our nation’s democracy. as exemplified in he Jan. 6 riot that trashed America’s Capitol and almost restored a fraudulent president to the office he lost in last November’s election are not a last attempt to bring out nation down but is just the beginning.
“The United States faces a serious risk that the 2024 presidential election, and other future U.S. elections, will not be conducted fairly, and that the candidates taking office will not reflect the free choices made by eligible voters under previously announced election rules,” wrote law professor and election law expert at the University of California, Irvine School of Law in a paper published this month.
Nearly nine months after rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol to stop the certification of the 2020 presidential election, a question still lingers over how to place it in history: Were the events of Jan. 6 the doomed conclusion of an unusually anti-democratic moment in American political life, or a preview of where the country is still heading?
It could be a bloodless coup, he warns, executed not by rioters with nooses but “lawyers in fine suits”: Between January and June, Republican-controlled legislatures passed 24 laws across 14 states to increase their control over how elections are run, stripping secretaries of state of their power and making it easier to overturn results.
Hansen sees three clear threats that continue:
State legislatures, purporting to exercise the authority of either the Constitution or an 1887 federal law called the Electoral Count Act, swapping in their own slate of electors for president, potentially with the blessing of a conservative Supreme Court and a Republican-controlled Congress.
Fraudulent or suppressive election administration or vote counting by norm- or law-breaking officials.
Vigilante action that prevents voting, interferes with ballot counting or interrupts the legitimate transfer of power.
At The Washington Post, Robert Kagan says “the stage is thus being set for chaos. Biden would find himself where other presidents have been — where Andrew Jackson was during the nullification crisis, or where Abraham Lincoln was after the South seceded — navigating without rules or precedents, making his own judgments about what constitutional powers he does and doesn’t have.”
The challenges for American democracy were on stark display almost exactly two months after Election Day, on Jan. 6, when a violent mob of Trump supporters mounted a deadly insurrection on the U.S. Capitol. And the challenges have been clear in the eight months since the riot, as Trump and his allies have intensified false claims of election fraud and the former president has remained the Republican Party’s most popular leader.
Now, as Trump looks and sounds increasingly like he intends to mount a presidential campaign rerun, Democrats and democracy experts are grappling with what such a campaign — and a potential second Trump presidency — would mean for the country.
“For me, the scary part is, in 2020, this was not a particularly sophisticated misinformation or disinformation campaign,” Matt Masterson, who ran election security at the Department of Homeland Security between 2018 to 2020 told Parker. Referring to some of the outlandish conspiracy theories of ballot fraud posited in the wake of the 2020 election by Trump’s allies, he added: “We’re talking about bamboo ballots and Italian satellites and dead dictators.”
Parker points to a dangerous move advocated by a right-wing lawyer who has Trump’s ear:
Newly revealed details of a memo written by John Eastman, a prominent conservative lawyer who worked with Trump in the weeks before the Jan. 6 insurrection, show that efforts to subvert the results of the 2020 election were more brazen than previously known. In the memo, first disclosed in “Peril,” the new book by Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, Eastman described the vice president as “the ultimate arbiter” of election results and argued that Vice President Mike Pence had the authority to simply toss out the electoral college votes of certain states, thereby clearing the way for a Trump victory. “Pence then gavels President Trump as re-elected,” Eastman wrote.
Harvard professor Daniel Ziblatt, warns that “We often think that what we should be waiting for is fascists and communists marching in the streets, but nowadays, the ways democracies often die is through legal things at the ballot box — so things that can be both legal and antidemocratic at the same time. Politicians use the letter of the law to subvert the spirit of the law”