I can’t decide — and I don’t think I’m alone here — how seriously to take Donald Trump’s attempted coup, in which he’ll try virtually anything to overturn the plainly clear results of the 2020 presidential election.
Does it portend an end to American democracy, which has not been so thoroughly assaulted since the Civil War?
Or is it simply the inevitable ending of the worst presidency in American history and one more Herculean task we have to complete to rid ourselves finally of Trump? The comparable task for America would be cleaning the Augean stables.
My guess is that Trump can’t prevail, which is not to say his effort is not dangerous. You have to ask yourself — and this isn’t original with me — what if a competent would-be authoritarian were to be elected president someday? If Trump, who could not be less qualified for the job, can get 73 million Americans to vote to re-elect him, it’s hard to say what isn’t possible.
Still, as I watched Rudy Giuliani flop-sweat his way through the Trump crack legal team’s explanations as to how Democrats rigged the election — in brief, it’s either the work of George Soros or Hugo Chavez (dead since 2013) or Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton or antifa or the Chinese or all of them in concert with hundreds of ordinary poll workers across the country — I figured this was Marx Brothers-level comedy without, you know, the humor. When Rudy went all My Cousin Vinny on us, that’s when I nearly lost it.
Could anyone in his/her right mind buy any of it? Sadly, that’s a rhetorical question.
Fortunately the judges, including at least one appointed by Trump, who have heard parts of Rudy’s presentation have rejected the evidence-free charges when they came to court. Reading the court rulings is instructive. The word “delusional” keeps coming up.
Meanwhile Kris Krebs, the former director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, tweeted: “That press conference was the most dangerous 1hr 45 minutes of television in American history. And possibly the craziest.”
Krebs, you’ll remember, was fired by Trump for saying that the election was safe and secure. So of course he fired him.
And then there’s the matter of the black dye running down Giuliani’s face, which is now seen as a metaphor, I guess, for the Republican Party meltdown. As many as 90 percent of top Republican elected officials, via Max Boot, still refuse to say that Biden has won the election.
That includes all of Colorado’s top Republicans, by the way, even outgoing Sen. Cory Gardner, despite the fact that he was pummeled in his re-election bid in large part because of his embrace of Donald Trump. If he’s planning to run for either governor or senator in Colorado in 2022, you’d think this would be the time to begin to inch away from his hug buddy. When Gardner was asked whether he thinks Biden has won the election, he complained of “gotcha questions” and said he was tired of them. I bet he’s tired. Even Gardner, the master, must get tired by his nonstop evasion of questions.
And then there’s Scott Tipton, who lost a shocking primary to Lauren Boebert, who will soon join the House crazy caucus. What does Tipton have to lose by calling out this lunacy?
If you hadn’t yet, you should read Jesse Paul’s revealing interview with Ken Buck, the Colorado congressman who moonlights as state party chair. The rumor is that Buck is out as chair, which should be good news for Colorado Republicans. In his conversation with Paul, he says that he hasn’t had time to think about it. Not everyone believes that.
The bad news is that if Buck is gone — as he should be — Scott Gessler seems to be the clear choice to replace him. It was Gessler, during his tenure as Colorado Secretary of State, who claimed to have evidence of widespread voter fraud. He didn’t, of course. And he is now defending Trump’s ugly coup attempt, defending the flimsy court cases, even defending Trump’s decision to bring in leading Michigan state legislators in an attempt to lobby them to undermine the election by having the legislature vote to name their own electors.
Let’s just say that to go to court, you have to have a case. And when in court, the case that Giuliani makes is to not call it “fraud” because that would be, well, fraudulent.
Gessler, meanwhile, brags that he was a campaign attorney for Trump in 2016, when most Colorado Republicans were running as far from Trump as possible. Does anyone imagine that tying the Colorado GOP even more closely to Trump, after the soon-to-be former president lost by 13 points in the state, is the way to rescue the party from its lowest point in modern history?
Historians tell us there has been nothing to match Trump’s attempt to overturn the election since the 1876 election that put Rutherford B. Hayes in the White House, but only after four months of turmoil and only after he promised to end Reconstruction.
I’m not sure what Trump can do in his last two months. We may be better off if he continues his farcical fight to stay in office. As you know, there are two runoff elections in Georgia on Jan. 5 that will decide which party controls the Senate. The Democrats need to win both, which may be a long shot. But their best shot is for Trump to continue to say that elections, like those in Georgia, were rigged against him.
Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, said that if Trump had not railed against mail-in voting, he might have won the state. “He would have won by 10,000 votes,” Raffensperger said. “He actually depressed, suppressed his own voting base.”
And now Senate Democrats and Georgia Democrats are hoping Trump, with an assist from Rudy, can do it all over again — and boost the democracy he keeps trying to wreck.
Mike Littwin’s column was produced for The Colorado Sun, a reader-supported news organization committed to covering the people, places and policies of Colorado. Learn more at coloradosun.com.