What if 2020 Was Only a Rehearsal?

The following editorial is based on a Politico Magazine interview with Rick Hasan, one of the nation’s experts on the laws that hold our democracy together. It complements the Washington Post opinion of Robert Kagan, who wrote:

The United States is heading into its greatest political and constitutional crisis since the Civil War, with a reasonable chance over the next three to four years of incidents of mass violence, a breakdown of federal authority, and the division of the country into warring red and blue enclaves. The warning signs may be obscured by the distractions of politics, the pandemic, the economy and global crises, and by wishful thinking and denial. But about these things there should be no doubt:

  1. Donald Trump will be the Republican candidate for President in 2024. He has the lead in the polls, has a war chest of money, and the Democratic ticket looks vulnerable.
  2. Trump and his allies are preparing to ensure victory by whatever means necessary. Trump’s incessant declaration of fraud in 2020 sets up the challenge to any future elections he doesn’t like.

Unlike establishment Republicans, Trump speaks without embarrassment on behalf of an aggrieved segment of Americans, not exclusively White, who feel they have been taking it on the chin for too long. And that is all he needs to do…. and the most important thing Trump delivers is himself. His egomania is part of his appeal. In his professed victimization by the media and the “elites,” his followers see their own victimization. That is why attacks on Trump by the elites only strengthen his bond with his followers. That is why millions of Trump supporters have even been willing to risk death as part of their show of solidarity: When Trump’s enemies cited his mishandling of the pandemic to discredit him, their answer was to reject the pandemic. One Trump supporter didn’t go to the hospital after developing covid-19 symptoms because he didn’t want to contribute to the liberal case against Trump. “I’m not going to add to the numbers,” he told a reporter.


Hasan, a professor of law at Irvine, U.C., stresses, “You could look at 2020 as the nadir of American democratic processes, or you could look at it as a dress rehearsal.” 

Hasan says the optics of the 2020 was a nation at the doorstep of a constitutional crisis, but he says if you look at what’s happening in broad daylight in the months since an insurrection at the Capitol, it’s time for us all to wake up. Hasan is troubled that Democrats are not seeing the three-alarm fire before us, and the answers are not as simple as “Democrats need to show up to vote.”

Hasan points out that election officials stood up to Trump’s pressure in 2020, but they are being pressured to leave or are looking at being replaced by Trump allies, who are willing to bow to his pressure.

“What would have happened if the election was exactly the same, except Kevin McCarthy was Speaker of the House?” Hasen asks. “I don’t know that we’d have a President Biden right now.”

Hasan says that he’s “scared shitless” by the revelations that have come to light recently about the steps Trump took to overturn the election.

Over 30 contacts with governors, state legislative officials, those who canvass the votes; pressuring governors, pressuring secretaries of state; having his lawyer pass out talking points to have Mike Pence declare Trump the winner even though he lost the election. I mean, this is not what we expect in a democracy.

Trump is not only using voter suppression — to deter voters from standing in long lines — but voter subversion, in attempts to manipulate the outcome of an election. Meanwhile, Trump gets to fundraise and fire up the base accusing Democrats of stealing elections and in the process delegitimizing Democratic wins.

“It provides the basis for millions of people to accept an actual stolen election as payback for the falsely claimed earlier ‘stolen’ election.”

See the full Politico article here.

If you can get past the paywall at the Washington Post, it’s a fantastic read as well.

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