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