The next coup is being attempted, and it’s more sinister than the last | Opinion
Coups d’etat come in different flavors. There’s the classic vanilla, where the president is assassinated and the military takes over as we saw recently in Haiti. But there are other ways to slice the pickle.
You cheat. Bend the rules. Bribe the refs. So that even though your side should lose, you win.
Everybody likes to win. And nobody likes to cheat. I should say nobody wants to cheat. We’d all prefer to win without dealing off the bottom of the deck. That way you preserve your money and your dignity, too.
But if you can convince yourself that the ends justify the means — that losing would be catastrophic to the higher good — you just might do it.
But cheating in a national election is no easy task. Each state or province has its own rules about when and how one can vote, how the votes are counted and who confirms the winner.
We should all know by now that the U.S. is not a true democracy. If it were, the Republican Party would have won only one presidential election since 1988. Instead — thanks to the Electoral College — it has won three. But now, the GOP’s chances of winning, even with the Electoral College, have diminished.
So what should the party do? One would hope what political parties have always done. Change the message. Energize the base. Enlarge the tent.
But what’s happening instead is this: In key battleground states still under GOP control such as Georgia, Texas and Arizona, the party is removing the civil servants who confirm who has won and replacing them with party loyalists. I am not making this up. They are replacing the refs with their own players. That way if the other side wins, they can site some evidence of voter fraud — there’s always some small error in a statewide election — and throw out the results. And because the ultimate power to select delegates to the Electoral College belongs to the state legislatures, they can simply send an alternative slate of delegates who will vote the party line.
I feel half-crazy even writing these words, but this is exactly what is going on right now. Not in Egypt or El Salvador. In America.
The point of a coup is to overturn the lawful government and replace it with one of the insurrectionists’ choosing. President Donald Trump’s supporters tried this the old-fashioned way on Jan. 6, 2021, and failed. Now they’re doing it a new way. A smarter and more sinister way.
If you’re like me, you may have thought that the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol was carried out by fringe elements and far-right extremists. It wasn’t. We now know from the more than 700 people who have been charged and arrested that the vast majority of insurrectionists were mainstream Republicans. Many college-educated and white-collar workers. Many with their own businesses.
The common denominator was a deeply held belief that the 2020 presidential election was stolen (a belief shared by the majority of registered Republicans despite a battalion of GOP judges ruling otherwise) and a willingness to use all means necessary to right that wrong.
If you’re willing to take up arms against your own government, it’s a baby step to cheat in order to win the next election.
That’s the state of our union in 2022 whatever President Joe Biden has to say about it to Congress in his State of the Union Address on March 1. And you can forget counting on good Christians like Gov. Bill Lee or U.S. Sens. Bill Hagerty and Marsha Blackburn to do anything about it. They seem devilishly delighted by the prospects of a game where their side cannot lose.
Buzz Thomas is a retired minister and attorney, and the former interim superintendent of Knox County public schools.