Tag Archives: Elise Stefanik

It’s All About 2024

Picture by Hilary Stone Ginsberg

Imagine this scenario: Joe Biden wins reelection in 2024 by 10-million votes and a significant margin in the Electoral College. Congress meets in the first week of January, 2025, to certify the electors. The House is controlled by Republicans because of gerrymandering and voter suppression laws passed after the previous presidential election (even though Democrats outpolled Republicans in the cumulative vote). The Senate is under Republican control due to the same voter suppression laws and the imbalance created by equal representation in the upper chamber (where small-population, ultra-red Wyoming has the same number of senators as large-population, very blue California). Both bodies throw out the electors from enough states to swing the election to Donald Trump.

Fanciful? Not really! Remember, 147 Republican members of Congress voted to decertify the electors from at least one state in the 2020 presidential election. None of them appeared troubled by the lack of evidence of fraud nor by the damage done to American democracy. And, the Republican Party four months later has made subscribing to the “Big Lie” a litmus test of fealty.

It may not even take decertification by Congress to overturn the results of a legitimate presidential election in the future. Some states are granting, or considering granting,  legislatures more power in overseeing elections, authority that would allow Republican-controlled legislatures to throw out the popular vote and appoint their own slate of presidential electors. Compliant Republicans in Congress would, no doubt, accept such bogus electors.

Or, as Lawrence Douglas posited in Will He Go? Trump and the Looming Election Meltdown in 2020, Republican-controlled state legislatures could refuse to accept absentee ballots and certify a presidential winner based only on same-day votes, while their Democratic governors accept the total-vote tally. The result? Some states send two slates of electors to Congress. Again, anti-democratic Republicans in Congress would not hesitate to certify the legislatively approved electors. 

All those committed to the Constitution and the rule of law should not be deceived. The Republican Party’s doubling down in its commitment to the “Big Lie” is an existential threat to democracy. Republican-controlled state legislatures are passing — or considering passing — laws that both suppress the vote and make it easier for state officials to nullify the votes of people whose votes Republicans do not want to count. This is alarming. The history of voting rights in America has — despite some periods of repression — been the continued expansion of the right to vote. Now, we are witnessing one of the two American political parties demonstrate a commitment to restrict the vote. 

Not only are Republicans attempting to insure that only the “right” people vote or only those people’s votes are counted, but the party is purging from its ranks those who will not go along with the “Big Lie.” Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming will be ousted soon from her party leadership post in the House because she voted to impeach Donald Trump for his complicity in the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol and asserts the truth that Joe Biden is the rightful president of the United States. Cheney will be replaced by a compliant and, since the first Trump impeachment hearings, whole-hearted Trump supporting Elise Stefanik of New York.

The continual invocation of the “Big Lie” — as witnessed in the repetition of it by Trump and his sycophants as well as the absurd, scary, and dangerous shenanigans taking place in the secret recount of votes in Maricopa County, Arizona — is not about 2020, but 2024. The proto-fascists in the party — and there are many — are keeping alive the lie because it serves their purposes in undermining trust in elections and preparing the way for widespread acceptance of congressional and/or state legislative interference in future elections.

Republicans know their electoral future is bleak and that demographics and recent voting trends favor the Democrats. Biden won the popular vote in such formerly red states as Georgia and Arizona. Those states give every indication of turning purple in the future while Virginia is no longer purple but solidly blue. No Republican has won statewide election in Virginia since Bob McDonnell’s election as governor in 2009. Other states are likely to follow as Democrats continue to gain support in metropolitan and suburban areas.

Unable to win elections fairly, and unwilling either to challenge Trump’s outrageous lies and behavior or adopt genuinely popular policies, Republicans have decided to cheat and alter the playing field. Continued promulgation by Republicans of the “Big Lie” and the party’s willingness to engage in electoral cheating leave Democrats no choice but to pass the For the People Act of 2021 and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Enactment of both laws will insure the continuation of free and fair elections in America.

But, to accomplish this, Democrats must repeal the filibuster in the Senate. Moderate Democrats in the Senate like Joe Manchin of West Virginia who refuse to support overturning the filibuster guarantee Republican success at electoral cheating. Their stubbornness gives Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell a virtual veto over Democratic legislation, including laws to insure electoral security. 

Senator Manchin, Republicans tried to overturn the 2020 election. Already they are paving the way to succeed in their machinations in 2024. Senator, the fate of the filibuster may determine the fate of the next presidential election. It is, after all, all about 2024.

Posted May 11, 2021

Very Strange World

Picture by Hilary Stone Ginsberg

It is a very strange world, indeed, in which a progressive — like me — sings the praises of a conservative like Wyoming Republican Representative Liz Cheney. Very strange, but also a sign of how Donald Trump has perverted traditional political perceptions.

Cheney is about to be purged from the House Republican leadership for telling the truth and following her conscience. Those, apparently, are sins in today’s Republican Party. The truth, as Cheney correctly acknowledges, is that Donald Trump lost the presidential election last November and, then, “summoned” a mob to storm the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. Her conscience commanded her to vote for Trump’s impeachment for his role on the insurrection, and it pushed her to continue to denounce the subservience of the vast majority of her Republican colleagues to Trump and his “Big Lie.”

Cheney has not relented in her criticism of Trump nor in her insistence that the Republican Party move on from his tarnished record. Although she survived a vote in early February to oust her as chair of the Republican conference, pressure from Trump, who called for her removal, and his lackeys has led to the nearly inevitable vote next week to replace her with someone more compliant. New York Representative Elise Stefanik is the leading candidate.

Cheney has been in the GOP’s crosshairs for weeks, but any possibility of her mustering enough support in the party’s House caucus to keep her post disappeared with publication Thursday of her op-ed in The Washington Post. In it, she castigated Trump for continuing to lie about the election results, accusing the former president of “seeking to unravel critical elements of our constitutional structure that make democracy work — confidence in the result of elections and the rule of law. No other American president has even done this.”

There is nothing conservative about such actions, Cheney asserted. “I am a conservative Republican,” she said, “and the most conservative of conservative values is reverence for the rule of law.” Trump’s attempt to undo the results of the 2020 election remind Cheney of what she witnessed in other countries “where changes in leadership come only with violence, where democracy takes hold only until the next violent upheaval.” Embracing Trump’s agenda, whatever the short-term political advantages might be, Cheney continues, “will do profound long-term damage to our party and our country.”

What is odd here is that most of Cheney’s Republican colleagues agreed with her about Trump’s role in the January 6 insurrection. Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy — who now has joined the chorus to oust Cheney — said, a week after the insurrection, “The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.” But, McCarthy desperately wants to be speaker of the House, and he evidently has calculated that the path to his dream job is to have Trump’s help in securing a Republican House majority in the 2022 midterm elections. So, the pusillanimous McCarthy dutifully paid homage to Trump at Mar-a-Lago two weeks later, and, now, the Californian defends Trump by saying that in a call on the day of the riot Trump promised to “put something out to make sure to stop this. And that’s what he did, he put a video out later.” Trump’s action: A tepid video put out several hours later. 

McCarthy is not alone in his supineness. Except for the extreme crazies on the far right, every Republican must understand that Trump lost and that his complicity in the January 6 is clear. Yet, their craven pursuit of power leads them to bow to Trump and to ignore the real dangers he presents — as Cheney made clear — to American democracy. Because of the  calculation that loyalty to Trump is a political necessity, the Republican Party has abandoned its ideology and shucked its conservatism to adhere to the Trumpian cult of personality.

That the Republican Party no longer believes in conservatism is evident by its willingness to trade Cheney — who voted with Trump 93 percent of the time — for Stefanik — who backed the president only 78 percent or the time. Stefanik, who hails from an upstate New York district that was once solidly Democratic, had a reputation as something of a Republican moderate. But, she emerged as one of Trump’s most outspoken defenders during House Intelligence Committee hearings for Trump’s first impeachment in 2019. Now, she is an enthusiastic defender of the “Big Lie.”

Stefanik initially was reluctant to challenge Cheney, but she changed her mind when Trump enthusiastically supported her elevation to the leadership. Now, Stefanik is campaigning for the job, writing on Twitter, “We are unified and focused on FIRING [Speaker Nancy] PELOSI & WINNING in 2022.” Apparently, becoming a Trump acolyte leads politicians to write uncontrollably in capitals. 

Liz Cheney deserves praise from all who revere the U.S. Constitution and for her insistence on telling the truth. Those standards constitute a rather low bar, however, and the failure of the vast majority of Republicans to even meet those minimal standards jeopardizes American political stability. President Joe Biden recognizes that the nation needs a two-party system, saying: “It’s not healthy to have a one-party system. And, I think Republicans are further away from trying to figure out who they are and what they stand for than I thought they would be at this point.”

Liz Cheney is no unvarnished hero. She defended the torture program of George W. Bush’s administration (in which her father was the vice president who urged the efficacy of torture in combatting in terrorism). She refused to denounce the “birther” assertions regarding President Barack Obama, and she headed a group that attacked Obama’s Justice Department, calling it “DOJ: Department of Jihad.”

But, Cheney is on the side of the angels in this battle, proving that it is, indeed, a very strange world.

Posted May 7, 2021