Since I co-authored a book 50 years ago that described how John Lindsay would be elected president in 1972, I have been leery of making political predictions.
However, it didn’t take any supernatural powers of foresight two years ago to warn that while the 2020 presidential election concluded with the rightful winner being confirmed, it raised troubling concerns about what might happen the following time. By 2024, would American democracy be more secure or much more in danger? It’s likely to be the latter after the midterm elections are over. It’s conceivable that the mounting threat to our entire political system will be realised, which might have terrible effects.
I wrote the following in this place in late November 2020, shortly before the Capitol riot on January 6, after the states had confirmed their electoral votes:
It doesn’t take much guesswork to demonstrate that Trump has provided his prospective successors very valuable lessons about how to rig an election. He has demonstrated that there is political and legal infrastructure in place currently that will make it much simpler to pull off in future elections, at least for Republicans who control the majority of state legislatures. The GOP may come to view 2020 as the election that revealed the route to capturing power over the will of American citizens, similar to how the German military considered the Spanish Civil War as a proving ground for the Luftwaffe.
It involves a number of theoretical measures that have gradually taken on greater reality, with anti-democratic forces now prepared to advance across the nation.
First, persuade your supporters that the election was rigged against them.
The GOP has taken this stance nearly from the moment Donald Trump incorrectly claimed that “Frankly, we did win” in 2020. Republicans who identify as such in a substantial majority think Joe Biden is an illegal president. What’s more striking is how widely this fallacy or deception has been spread by Republican officials and candidates. More than 300 Republican candidates for office, many of whom will hold positions in the U.S. House and Senate, state legislatures, and state offices like governor, attorney general, and secretary of state, with significant authority to determine which votes will be counted or rejected, and which election results will be certified in 2024, have been identified by CBS and other news organisations.
Second, check the loyalty of regional and national leaders.
The Trumpists have had a very successful campaign with this. The plan for the next campaign was conceived as soon as top Republican officials in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Arizona rejected initiatives to overturn the outcome of the 2020 election. There would be a significant rise in the ability to clog the vote-counting and vote-validation apparatus and possibly even tilt it in the wrong direction. Republicans, who occupy a majority of statehouses in the United States, at least know where to use their political clout to make sure their supporters have those positions today.
The Arizona House speaker, who was running for state Senate, and half a dozen House Republicans were eliminated during primary campaigns for positions that protected the 2020 vote. Republicans have characterised the Jan. 6 uprising as a “peaceful exercise of First Amendment rights” in every state. More importantly, certain GOP-controlled legislatures have made voting more challenging and the vote-counting process more likely to give rise to allegations of “another stolen election” by delaying the counting of early and mail-in ballots. (GOP contenders like Arizona’s Kari Lake and the former president have already declared their belief that Tuesday’s votes will be rigged.)
Third: Allow state legislatures to cast the ballot.
When Wisconsin GOP gubernatorial candidate Tim Michels promised supporters that if he won, his party “would never lose another election” in the state, it raised some eyebrows. Even though he later claimed that he just meant that his plans will be extremely well-liked, the inference was clear. Wisconsin Republicans have attempted to give the legislature extensive control over the counting of votes since since they took over the legislature in 2010. Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, has vetoed these initiatives, but even if he wins re-election on Tuesday, the GOP only has to pick up a few seats to obtain a veto-proof majority, giving them unchallenged control over the electoral process. If the U.S. Supreme Court accepts the radical “Independent State Legislature” approach, the judiciary’s capacity to restrain the authority of legislators, which has been successful in Pennsylvania and North Carolina, may be seriously damaged.
Fourth, bend the final barricade, which is the US Congress.
The prospects of a voting rights law being passed to limit the authority of state legislatures if the GOP controls the House or Senate are zero (though Democrats couldn’t even pass one while they had majority due to Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema’s opposition to weakening the Senate filibuster). And if the GOP gains control of both houses in 2024, their capacity to challenge and overturn the results of the state elections will be significantly increased. If Democrats and Republicans who care about upholding American democracy wish to address one of the flaws in the system that Trump attempted to take advantage of in his campaign for re-election, they must work tirelessly to change the Electoral Count Act during the approaching lame duck session.