The Election Is Not Elective

If we want to be heard in November, we had better be loud for a whole year.

I've said before that the limit on what Trump will do is whatever he's allowed to do. And since he is largely immune to external sources of shame, I don't mean what people tell him not to do or tell him isn't done or tell him he can't do, I mean what he's actually stopped from doing. He will try to do anything he wants to do, if he gets the sense that that no one will stop him. And the way he tests the winds on that is to send up things as a trial balloon, to see which way the wind is blowing and how hard.

This is why he "jokes" about serving a third term or for being king or president for life (which he "jokingly" compares to being king because his ultimate goal is to rule, period, as the boss of the country, not to serve a particular role in our government.)

So when we've got his proxies like Huckabee suggesting that his first term shouldn't "count" because the Democrats opposed him during it at the same time Trump is sending up trial balloons for skipping the presidential debates, we have to consider that he may be pushing for a state where, a year from now, he feels comfortable skipping the actual election.

The logic for this is already well-established in Trumpland. Supposedly the investigations and impeachment are happening because Democrats know they can't win in 2020. If Republicans know that the outcome is a Trump victory and the Democrats know that the outcome is a Trump victory, then the election is only a formality, right? And if the election can only have one fair outcome, then even holding it is dangerous. The only way the election could actually matter is if someone cheats to change the outcome, which can only benefit the losers.

Under this rubric, even holding the election is an undemocratic coup. Cancelling it is a victory for democracy, a recognition of the will of the people. 

Democrats and neutral parties clamoring for the election to be made secure from meddling figure into this in two ways: one, it provides more "proof" of Democratic meddling, they're still "pushing conspiracy theories" and trying to remake the system that gave us Trump. Two, if Trump does cancel the elections (or take some intermediate step that suppresses a portion of them) his proxies will be out in force saying "They said the elections weren't secure and now they're all aghast that someone is doing something about it. If I thought the elections were at risk, I'd want them delayed until they were made safe. But suddenly the very people who have been saying something must be done are acting like our elections are perfect!"

The GOP doesn't draw conclusions from facts in evidence; they decide which conclusions are necessary and then play for points to prove them. And as the Party of Trump, the necessary conclusions are whatever bug has crawled up Hair Furor's backside. If he tries to cancel the elections, then the necessity of that is the conclusion they will defend unto the death (of others, preferably).

At this point the rank and file is so inured to this way of doing things, so swept up in the fervor of Doing It To Own The Libs, that merely pointing out the danger becomes an argument for embracing it. "Oh, the Democrats want an election next November? They'll be triggered so hard when we don't have one."

If you're reading this and saying to yourself, "Good thing the president doesn't have the power to cancel elections"... in the modern United States, a president has the power to do whatever they are allowed to do. That's it. Both parties have accepted that when in office for their own purposes, and now we are all reaping the bitter fruits of that devil's bargain.

I'm not saying that this is what is going to happen. I'm saying it's what Trump will do if he feels secure within himself that he can get away with it. He'll call for a total shutdown of elections just until we figure out what's going on. He'll say he's withholding the election until he's sure the corruption has been dealt with. He'll deploy whatever logic has worked for him in the past, even if it's only worked with his base, confident that his base will "get tough" if he's deposed but that his critics will remain mostly bloodless and toothless in their responses.

The way to prevent this is to oppose him... slow his consolidation of power, push back on his arguments, keep him off balance and insecure and ideally, afraid. Fearful Trump hides in his residences and jumps at shadows, afraid to trust his underlings enough to have them enforce his will.

Trump is not at his most dangerous when he's cornered. He's at his most dangerous when he has an open field he can move freely through. Right now, despite the impeachment proceedings boxing him in, he sees a light at the end of that tunnel in the Senate trial and the acquittal McConnell has promised him. 

So we've got to be ready for what comes next, whatever it is. We have to embrace the spirit of 2017 in January, when his first Muslim ban was met with mass protests, when so many of us were ready to take to the airports and the streets and anywhere else we were needed... and then too many of us were cowed by conservative double-agents like Louise Mensch who told us that "protests are a Bannon psyop" and "don't worry, he's already been secretly impeached and Orrin Hatch is being sworn in as the shadow president as we speak". 

We need resistance, but more than resistance, we need opposition. We need to push back. We need to be visible and active and audible so that it's clear the country is not with him. We need to be clear that elections are a sacred part of our republic and not to be messed with. They must be secure, they must be protected, and they must happen as scheduled. Hashtag Hands Off Our Election. You get the idea.

Won't Trump just seize on the unrest as an excuse to crackdown? Listen. Trump is not a master planner with a meticulous 237 step plan to take absolute power. He is a nimble opportunist. He will seize on whatever happens. Literally whatever. He can make hay out of protests but he will make mincemeat out of a passive populace. Whatever weapons we "hand him" in fighting him are nothing compared to what he will make for himself if we give him any quarter in the coming year. You cannot withhold ammo from a munitions factory, and Trump and his enablers and defenders are going to be cranking out the guns and ammo 24/7 if we leave them to it.

This is our mission for 2020: opposition to Trump that cannot be ignored, and elections in November.

Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of civic participation.

Thank you for reading.

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