How to use the US election system to stage a coup

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Steve3007
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How to use the US election system to stage a coup

Post by Steve3007 »

The general strategy for the coup attempted by Trump and Giuliani and his team seems now to be fairly clear:

1. In the months coming up to the election, sow doubt about the postal ballot process.

2. Appoint judges to the SCOTUS who are assumed to be politically in favor of a second Trump term and who, having being appointed by that administration, are assumed by the administration to owe it some form of loyalty or fealty.

3. Repeatedly claim fraud after the result comes in, in forums such as Twitter and press conferences, where calls for evidence can be ignored but from which widespread publicity can sway public opinion more effectively than the dry proceedings of a courtroom could.

4. Cite those claims of fraud, and the resultant pressure from Trump supporters who unquestioningly believe them, as justification for pressuring Republican electors to ignore the ballots and elect Trump regardless. (The claims of fraud mean that the narrative doesn't have to be that legitimate votes are being ignored.)

5. Put direct pressure on those electors, reminding them of what tends to happen to people who are regarded as turncoats and traitors by Trump and his supporters and reminding them that Trump still holds the full power of the presidency and the unquestioning support of millions of angry citizens, many of them armed, while also pushing the narrative that they would actually be defending democracy by disregarding a fraudulent election. i.e. both stick and carrot.

6. In parallel with 5, take cases to state-level courts in the expectation of losing so that they can progress up to the SCOTUS and win due to point 2. (This is Giuliani's team's stated strategy, at least since losing the cases.)

In the event, this doesn't seem to have worked, although 6 is ongoing. This seems to be partly because the Republican electors have largely resisted the pressure and refused to cooperate; partly because Biden's winning margin was too great; partly because judges, regardless of their political affiliations, in cases where empirical evidence and not values are at issue, still tend to behave like judges - putting the requirement for solid evidence and a dispassionate application of the law above what Trump would hope is their political loyalty and/or debt to him for putting them where they are. (In the case of judges on the SCOTUS this last point has not yet been tested at the time of writing.)

But could these things have been different? Could it have worked, perhaps if Biden's winning margin either in the swing states or the overall popular vote was slimmer? (The popular vote is not directly relevant but it is psychologically important.) Was there ever a genuine possibility that US democracy could be unambiguously replaced by dictatorship using this method? Might it yet happen in a future election if Trump, or someone similar, is involved? Or will this whole experience ultimately strengthen US democracy by testing it so severely and perhaps resulting in some reforms?
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Marvin_Edwards
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Re: How to use the US election system to stage a coup

Post by Marvin_Edwards »

Luckily, reason triumphed over passions in the courts.
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LuckyR
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Re: How to use the US election system to stage a coup

Post by LuckyR »

Steve3007 wrote: November 25th, 2020, 7:12 am The general strategy for the coup attempted by Trump and Giuliani and his team seems now to be fairly clear:

1. In the months coming up to the election, sow doubt about the postal ballot process.

2. Appoint judges to the SCOTUS who are assumed to be politically in favor of a second Trump term and who, having being appointed by that administration, are assumed by the administration to owe it some form of loyalty or fealty.

3. Repeatedly claim fraud after the result comes in, in forums such as Twitter and press conferences, where calls for evidence can be ignored but from which widespread publicity can sway public opinion more effectively than the dry proceedings of a courtroom could.

4. Cite those claims of fraud, and the resultant pressure from Trump supporters who unquestioningly believe them, as justification for pressuring Republican electors to ignore the ballots and elect Trump regardless. (The claims of fraud mean that the narrative doesn't have to be that legitimate votes are being ignored.)

5. Put direct pressure on those electors, reminding them of what tends to happen to people who are regarded as turncoats and traitors by Trump and his supporters and reminding them that Trump still holds the full power of the presidency and the unquestioning support of millions of angry citizens, many of them armed, while also pushing the narrative that they would actually be defending democracy by disregarding a fraudulent election. i.e. both stick and carrot.

6. In parallel with 5, take cases to state-level courts in the expectation of losing so that they can progress up to the SCOTUS and win due to point 2. (This is Giuliani's team's stated strategy, at least since losing the cases.)

In the event, this doesn't seem to have worked, although 6 is ongoing. This seems to be partly because the Republican electors have largely resisted the pressure and refused to cooperate; partly because Biden's winning margin was too great; partly because judges, regardless of their political affiliations, in cases where empirical evidence and not values are at issue, still tend to behave like judges - putting the requirement for solid evidence and a dispassionate application of the law above what Trump would hope is their political loyalty and/or debt to him for putting them where they are. (In the case of judges on the SCOTUS this last point has not yet been tested at the time of writing.)

But could these things have been different? Could it have worked, perhaps if Biden's winning margin either in the swing states or the overall popular vote was slimmer? (The popular vote is not directly relevant but it is psychologically important.) Was there ever a genuine possibility that US democracy could be unambiguously replaced by dictatorship using this method? Might it yet happen in a future election if Trump, or someone similar, is involved? Or will this whole experience ultimately strengthen US democracy by testing it so severely and perhaps resulting in some reforms?
Didn't work, but I can't think of a time when it would have been a better time to try. It does require a charismatic leader, which I am not seeing on the horizon for the Republicans.
"As usual... it depends."
Steve3007
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Re: How to use the US election system to stage a coup

Post by Steve3007 »

LuckyR wrote:It does require a charismatic leader, which I am not seeing on the horizon for the Republicans.
Yes, one of the key requirements is a charismatic leader who has built up the absolutely unquestioning support of millions who have been trained not to believe anything that they hear or read, from any source, if it contradicts what the leader asserts. The power and fear, by the threat to turn those millions against them, that can be wielded against those on the leader's own side who deviate from his narrative is vital. It seems to be what has kept most top Republicans from speaking out against Trump. They need to humor him until this power has dispersed enough to be safe or is not needed any more. So that's at least after the Georgia Senate runoffs.

You say you can't see anything similar on the horizon for the Republicans. How about the Democrats? Could you envisage a Trump-like demagogue emerging on the other side? After all, the Republican Party was just the means to the end. Trump is not really a Democrat or a Republican. That means-to-an-end could perhaps almost as easily have been the other guys. The details of the Trump message would have had to be different, but the general populist principles, and the use of human psychology used by the demagogue, could perhaps have been the same.
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Marvin_Edwards
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Re: How to use the US election system to stage a coup

Post by Marvin_Edwards »

Steve3007 wrote: November 26th, 2020, 6:13 am
LuckyR wrote:It does require a charismatic leader, which I am not seeing on the horizon for the Republicans.
Yes, one of the key requirements is a charismatic leader who has built up the absolutely unquestioning support of millions who have been trained not to believe anything that they hear or read, from any source, if it contradicts what the leader asserts. The power and fear, by the threat to turn those millions against them, that can be wielded against those on the leader's own side who deviate from his narrative is vital. It seems to be what has kept most top Republicans from speaking out against Trump. They need to humor him until this power has dispersed enough to be safe or is not needed any more. So that's at least after the Georgia Senate runoffs.

You say you can't see anything similar on the horizon for the Republicans. How about the Democrats? Could you envisage a Trump-like demagogue emerging on the other side? After all, the Republican Party was just the means to the end. Trump is not really a Democrat or a Republican. That means-to-an-end could perhaps almost as easily have been the other guys. The details of the Trump message would have had to be different, but the general populist principles, and the use of human psychology used by the demagogue, could perhaps have been the same.
I would like to think that Democrats have some immunity against demagogues. We champion science over ignorance and conspiracy theories. We face up to things like global warming and systemic racism. We watch 60 Minutes instead of Fox and Friends.
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Re: How to use the US election system to stage a coup

Post by Terrapin Station »

You're giving them way too much credit if you're thinking they had a long-term plan in this for Trump to retain the presidency.
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LuckyR
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Re: How to use the US election system to stage a coup

Post by LuckyR »

Steve3007 wrote: November 26th, 2020, 6:13 am
LuckyR wrote:It does require a charismatic leader, which I am not seeing on the horizon for the Republicans.
Yes, one of the key requirements is a charismatic leader who has built up the absolutely unquestioning support of millions who have been trained not to believe anything that they hear or read, from any source, if it contradicts what the leader asserts. The power and fear, by the threat to turn those millions against them, that can be wielded against those on the leader's own side who deviate from his narrative is vital. It seems to be what has kept most top Republicans from speaking out against Trump. They need to humor him until this power has dispersed enough to be safe or is not needed any more. So that's at least after the Georgia Senate runoffs.

You say you can't see anything similar on the horizon for the Republicans. How about the Democrats? Could you envisage a Trump-like demagogue emerging on the other side? After all, the Republican Party was just the means to the end. Trump is not really a Democrat or a Republican. That means-to-an-end could perhaps almost as easily have been the other guys. The details of the Trump message would have had to be different, but the general populist principles, and the use of human psychology used by the demagogue, could perhaps have been the same.
Less likely to happen in an urban, college educated demographic.
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Steve3007
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Re: How to use the US election system to stage a coup

Post by Steve3007 »

It seems to me quite important that Trump gets his wish for this to go all the way to the SCOTUS.

So far, his accusations of a large scale far-left/activist/Democrat/Dominion/Communist/Socialist/Venezuelan/Iranian/Chinese/European conspiracy have only had to extend up to the lower-level judges that he appointed. I think it's important that when the SCOTUS similarly rejects the lawsuits because they contain no relevant evidence and no specific accusations he then has to accuse the US Supreme Court judges that he appointed of being part of that conspiracy. If it doesn't reach the SCOTUS he won't be forced to do that. He'll stick to claiming that the conspiracy goes up to just below that level and that if his case had reached that level he would have been vindicated. He'll draw a hard line between the honest patriots in the US Supreme Court and the hard-left corrupt judges in all other courts. And he will be believed by millions. The more judges reject his claims when they're exposed to scrutiny (as opposed to being shouted in one-way media) the more of those millions can be shaved off; the more his core can be reduced down to just those who would believe that 2 + 2 = 5 if He told them it was.

Presumably if it reaches the SCOTUS and is thrown out, the next level is God?
baker
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Re: How to use the US election system to stage a coup

Post by baker »

Steve3007 wrote: November 30th, 2020, 5:42 amPresumably if it reaches the SCOTUS and is thrown out, the next level is God?
Or covid-19.
The pandemic and the unsuccessful handling of it could potentially lead to such devastating losses of life and livelihoods that will make more American people favor right wing mentality more.

The mentality of the Democrats is the mentality of people who are relatively well off, who believe in their self-efficacy, and who are looking forward to the future. Once people are poor and disadvantaged enough (such as through a pandemic), they simply cannot relate to that mentality (anymore).
Steve3007
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Re: How to use the US election system to stage a coup

Post by Steve3007 »

I don't think covid-19 is qualified to pass judgment on a court case. It lacks the required central nervous system.

Maybe the Sidney Powell case.
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Re: How to use the US election system to stage a coup

Post by Marvin_Edwards »

NY investigations may lead to Trump facing criminal charges after he's out of office.
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Re: How to use the US election system to stage a coup

Post by baker »

Steve3007 wrote: November 30th, 2020, 10:50 amI don't think covid-19 is qualified to pass judgment on a court case. It lacks the required central nervous system.
Be careful not to underestimate the potential effects of a pandemic. It may collapse the legal system, and then it's martial law, or worse.
Steve3007
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Re: How to use the US election system to stage a coup

Post by Steve3007 »

A point of US constitutional law: As I understand it, the president can pardon whoever he wants, although there appears to be uncertainty as to whether he can pardon himself. He can pardon them, in advance, for any future potential federal lawsuits. He also seems to be able to pardon groups. For example, he's been advised to pardon his entire family, just in case.

So: Is he constitutionally allowed to pardon the entire US population en masse? If so, this would presumably mean that, at the federal level if not the state level, he is constitutionally permitted to abolish the rule of law by placing the entire population beyond the reach of its long arm.
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LuckyR
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Re: How to use the US election system to stage a coup

Post by LuckyR »

baker wrote: December 1st, 2020, 3:04 am
Steve3007 wrote: November 30th, 2020, 10:50 amI don't think covid-19 is qualified to pass judgment on a court case. It lacks the required central nervous system.
Be careful not to underestimate the potential effects of a pandemic. It may collapse the legal system, and then it's martial law, or worse.
Well martial law is bad for business, so I don't see the power structure allowing that...
"As usual... it depends."
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LuckyR
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Re: How to use the US election system to stage a coup

Post by LuckyR »

Steve3007 wrote: December 1st, 2020, 6:00 am A point of US constitutional law: As I understand it, the president can pardon whoever he wants, although there appears to be uncertainty as to whether he can pardon himself. He can pardon them, in advance, for any future potential federal lawsuits. He also seems to be able to pardon groups. For example, he's been advised to pardon his entire family, just in case.

So: Is he constitutionally allowed to pardon the entire US population en masse? If so, this would presumably mean that, at the federal level if not the state level, he is constitutionally permitted to abolish the rule of law by placing the entire population beyond the reach of its long arm.
I am not a lawyer but I believe a pardon is a pardon from a conviction for a crime. True it can be done before a courts have ruled BUT according to Burdick v. United States, a 1915 U.S. Supreme Court decision that stated that a pardon carries an imputation of guilt and that its acceptance carries a confession of guilt. Thus Trump and the Trumps would essentially be convicted felons who have been pardoned. Cool...
"As usual... it depends."
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