UPDATED AND POSTED, JANUARY 24. The following was written on December 31, 2020, and for reasons I can’t honestly remember, I appear to have put it on hold after I wrote it. Not sure whether I just wanted to “polish” what you see below, or if I thought I had more to add (?). Frankly I forgot I even had this, so it was more than a little surprising to read it today. I am publishing it now in the wake of the Jan. 6 insurrection attempt/riots without edit, alteration or comment (other than this intro) because, well, it’s interesting as a curio at this point — I was pretty much dead on, as far as it went. Not sure that makes me any kind of swami in terms of political prognostication — anyone with two eyes and half a brain could see where this was going. But it’s interesting nonetheless:
It’s the first weekend of the new year, the last day of the old congress, and the time to seat the new one, as well as to change Presidents.
Donald Trump, probably in an attempt to avoid the coming prosecution and humiliation he seems likely to face once he is no longer President, has continued his monomaniacal drive to remain President at any cost (including the shredding of the constitution and democratic norms). No surprise or change there.
What is new, if wholly predictable given the QAnon-fueled GOP’s recent history, is the spectacle of elected GOP representatives publicly aligning themselves with what amounts to a coup (or, more properly and annoyingly autogolpe). This is no small thing: the actions of the Senators and Representatives in this matter amount to an attempt to discard democratic process and overturn the results of a fairly and freely determined election. Marc Elias notes that as of the end of 2020, Trump’s legal team is one-for-sixty in their court challenges in multiple states. Every state has now certified their votes, and the electoral college has voted. The election is over and Joe Biden won. So any attempt to conjure new, previously unused methods to overturn this is literally nothing more than a naked attempt to install an unelected authoritarian leader. It is sedition, full stop.
So the question becomes: what to DO about the inescapable conclusion and our new reality? This is uncharted territory and not a lot is certain since there is no precedent.
There are those who believe that our democratic institutions will hold. They have good arguments. Namely, that if Biden is not seated and Trump is not either (since he did not, in fact, with), then the Presidential order of succession would indicate that temporary President Pelosi would assume office, not Pence or anyone else. Supporters of this idea use it as a two-pronged argument: one, if the Ted Cruz-led faction somehow manages to be successful, they’ll just get Pelosi (sucks to be them), and that therefore, the sedition caucus can therefore not be serious: they are merely attempting to look tough for the nutters who comprise the base of their party, in order to pre-empt any primary challenges by an even more right-wing nut case.
I’m not a mind reader, so, like any fair-minded person looking at this mess, I have to conclude that I don’t really know how many – if any – of the sedition caucus actually mean what they say, and are really intent on going through with it, all the way. I suspect many of them might know it’s a long, long shot…but I’d be willing to bet that a surprising number of them might come quickly around to the “we meant it all along” perspective if events shifted to the point where it looked like this was possible. The GOP has been opposed to democracy for some time, especially the further right fringes of it. I could be wrong and this could all be for show…but I wouldn’t count on it.
Some out there in the commentariat-o-sphere, have come to similar conclusions and have been loudly and bombastically sounding the alarm and urging everything from arresting Cruz, et. al. to using parliamentary procedure (existing or new) to refuse to seat those members who would vote to use the pro-forma confirmation vote of congress as a means to attempt to overturn the election results.
One thing is certain: the next steps must be very carefully considered and taken.