American Coup

Is there a more definitive image of an irreparably broken GOP than watching members of the base calling for the hanging of Republican Vice President Mike Pence as they stormed the U.S. Capitol (where Pence was presiding over the electoral count)? It seems like a pretty strong contender.

After years of Donald Trump undermining our democracy with the enabling of the Republican Party and conservative media (including Fox News) providing the platform for their lies, last Wednesday’s attempted coup was the inevitable culmination.

Credit: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times

The “March to Save America”/anti-democracy rally, organized by a pro-Trump group, featured a rogue’s gallery of Trump allies inciting the crowd to go to the Capitol and stop (based on a series of debunked, baseless lies that the election was stolen) the certification of 2020’s electoral votes. Rudy Giuliani called for “trial by combat.” Donald Trump Jr. warned “we’re coming for you and we’re going to have a good time doing it.” President Trump himself joined in the seditionist circle jerk: “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”

News stations carried the ensuing terror attack live as Trump’s supporters swarmed Capitol Hill like locusts and carried out an attempted coup that would leave five people dead (including a police officer). It could have been far worse.

In the aftermath, you’ve likely seen the photos of insurgents carrying zip ties or flex cuffs. You may have read the report of another man who had 11 homemade bombs in his truck. Maybe you saw the court documents for another insurgent who had texted he was “Thinking about heading over to Pelosi C*NT’s speech and putting a bullet in her noggin on Live TV” or you read about the bombs left at the RNC and the DNC. In the coming days, we’ll likely learn of more atrocities that were discussed and/or thwarted last week.

Credit: Win Mcnamee/Getty Images

You can probably imagine what the White House damage control response was on white domestic terrorism. (The white supremacist component of Wednesday’s attack and the GOP push to toss out votes – the overwhelming of which belong to Black Americans – deserves its own separate piece.)

As the coup continued, Trump released a Twitter video repeating the lie that the election was “fraudulent” and telling the mob to “go home,” that he “loved” them and they’re “very special” (ouch, he doesn’t even tell Don Jr. or Eric this). In the meantime, daughter and advisor Ivanka Trump referred to the terrorists as “American Patriots.”

Twenty-four hours later, Trump made a second video admonishing the terrorists (whom he incited) in a tone that could only be described as “I don’t really want to do this”:

“The demonstrators who infiltrated the Capitol have defiled the seat of American democracy. To those who engaged in the acts of violence and destruction, you do not represent our country”

Trump told aides he regretted releasing the second video (I imagine he agreed to it to distance himself from an incitement charge; it doesn’t look like that’s going to work).

Trump wasn’t the only Republican who lied about the election and then condemned the coup they inspired. Texas Senator Ted Cruz had to get in on this shit: “Everyone who attacked the Capitol should be fully prosecuted and they should spend a long, long time in jail.”

On December 9th, Ted Cruz accepted Trump’s request to argue before the Supreme Court a Texas lawsuit to toss out the results from 4 battleground states (Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin) won by Joe Biden on the basis that they didn’t properly implement their mail-in ballot procedures in response to the pandemic. The majority of House Republicans (126 in all, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy) signed in support of the lawsuit. It was tossed out by SCOTUS because it was fucking dumb.

Ted Cruz had one more (certain to fail) play to overturn the election. On Wednesday, Cruz and 11 other senators attempted to toss out millions of legitimate votes by blocking the electoral vote certification of multiple states Joe Biden won. As terrorists breached the Capitol, Cruz and Rep. Paul Gosar had just objected (with the support of 121 House Republicans) to certifying Arizona’s votes.

Credit: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

As senators were being moved to an undisclosed secure location, POTUS and his Nosferatu lawyer were STILL attempting to stop Biden’s victory by calling and encouraging Alabama Sen.Tommy Tuberville to “slow it [the certification] down.”

After the senators returned to the floor later that evening, Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley condemned the violent attack on the Capitol and then proceeded to continue falsely validating the lie that inspired it by objecting to the certification of Pennsylvania’s votes. His objection had the support of 138 House Republicans. It’s not that the Republicans haven’t learned a thing from their actions; they just don’t care.

During his five-minute speech on the floor, Sen. Lindsey Graham’s “Count me out. Enough is enough” declaration to move on from GOP claims of election fraud was a keeper – especially after he may have solicited fraud himself in Georgia.

Speaking to the Washington Post last month, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Graham contacted him and inquired if he had the power to toss out all mail ballots from counties with higher rates of non-matching signatures (Raffensperger does not). Graham wasn’t the only one who had Raffensperger on speed dial.

In his latest game of “Sopranos” role play, Trump called Raffensperger and pressured (at one point, even threatening) the Secretary of State to find him “11,780” votes to overturn Biden’s victory. Biden won the Peach State by 11,779 votes.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows even jumped in on the action (I’m assuming he played Paulie Walnuts) and asked Raffensperger “in the spirit of cooperation and compromise” if they could look at the fraud allegations (which are baseless) to “find a path forward” without involving the courts. Meadows is SO much better at soliciting election fraud than Trump. The real question is: Overturning Georgia alone is not enough to win the presidency. How many other states did the White House pressure?

Credit: Jim Bourg | Reuters

Of course, you don’t have to attempt to overturn the election to sow doubt among your voters. You can just take the approach Senate Majority (but soon-to-be Minority!) Leader Mitch McConnell took.

McConnell refused to acknowledge Biden was the president-elect until six weeks after the election. In 2016, McConnell congratulated Trump on his election victory within 24 hours. Yay, complicity!

As talk now turns to a potential second impeachment (if Pence refuses to enact the 25th Amendment by Monday) of Trump for inciting a coup, Republicans like Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan claim it will be a threat to the very unity Joe Biden seeks to create. Yeah, fuck that.

Impeachment is about accountability, not unifying. After four deaths on January 6, the GOP had an opportunity to unify by choosing to defend democracy and ending their attempts to block the certification of Pennsylvania’s votes. They rejected that option the same night as if they were a Calvin decal pissing on a map of the U.S. plastered on the back of a Ford.

Donald Trump violated his oath. Impeach the motherfucker and strip him of his post-presidency benefits.

As the office of the presidency transitions to Joe Biden, Trump will leave a legacy of death and corruption. However, his most dangerous mark may be felt further down the road.

The day will come when the Republican Party nominates a candidate with an autocratic vision who can naturally navigate the political waters. From acquitting on articles of impeachment to parroting baseless election lies, Trump’s presidency has shown that the GOP will enable their worst impulses. There are simply not enough Mitt Romneys and Adam Kinzingers in the party to stop the GOP’s transformation to an aspiring authoritarian party.

The safest path forward for America and its democracy is for the current incarnation of the Republican Party to end.

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