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The coup’s aftermath, part 1

October 11, 2021

Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election was stymied at his every turn by Republican office holders who resisted his ploys. Georgia Secretary of State Raffensperger would not conjure the desired 11,000 votes. Several high officials in the Department of Justice resigned or threatened to resign rather than act on Trump’s false election claims. Pence refused to play his assigned role.

While the lawyers who were the public side of the coup are facing legal sanctions and defamation lawsuits, Trump largely has avoided any consequence. So far. He is holding rallies as if planning for a comeback. More significantly, he is targeting those Republicans who put their duty over their partisan loyalty. I suspect he will be successful in that. Raffensperger can write a book on integrity. That will not change the nature of the cult. If he thinks he can survive in today’s GOP standing on integrity, he has seriously misread the direction of the party.

Trump’s coup failed only because he did not have loyal lieutenants already installed in the positions needed, or the ready leverage to subvert those who weren’t with the program. That was a scarily thin line. While he may hope that his efforts now pave the way for his political return, it is more likely they will serve a future strongman who is better at politics.

Trump is more symptom than cause. Alas, looking at the broader picture isn’t necessarily cheerful. The cult Trump rode to power existed before he jumped into politics, seeing that he could ride it. It shows every sign of dominating the GOP for years to come. The difference between state senator Ed McBroom, who exposed Trump’s election lies in Michigan, and Staci Burk, who was eager to spread them in Arizona, doesn’t have an obvious tie to political ideology. Both are Republican. Both likely see eye to eye on a variety of issues from taxes to the role of religion in the US. The difference between them is integrity in contrast to susceptibility to weaponized bullshit. That leaves McBroom with no place in today’s GOP. That party seems destined to travel a dark route for the foreseeable future.

The structural weaknesses of American democracy are even longer standing. The right wing doesn’t have to rely on persuading most Americans. The corruption that feeds the cult also makes it suited to taking advantage of every hole in our legal system.

Perhaps the generations that have been raised with the internet will become savvier. Perhaps, despite Covid-19 being the favorite subject of those who weaponize bullshit — or because? — that will generate broader concern for facts and science. Perhaps criminal prosecutions will further expose those who supported the Trump administration. The future is hard to scry.

Update: Republicans who are unwilling to travel the current direction of that party make a plea.

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