Donald Trump is trying to subvert the electoral process in the State of Michigan by having top Republican officials fly to Washington D.C. to discuss refusing to certify election results by November 23. If this isn’t an attempted coup d’etat, it will do until the real thing comes along.
The back story is that two members of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers, Monica Palmer and William Hartmann were initially reluctant to certify votes, then they decided to do so a few hours later. Then Trump called them personally and they changed their minds again, this time filing an affidavit to the effect that they were “improperly pressured” to certify votes. The person who is obviously applying improper pressure is none other than the losing candidate, Trump.
Anyway you cut it, this plays out as an “insurgency in the making” in the words of John Stoer, at the Editorial Board:
Bear in mind none of this matters. The president may have told Palmer and Hartmann to “rescind” their votes, but Michigan law prohibits it. The move is, moreover, part of an unprecedented effort by Trump to delay or undermine a peaceful transition of power, said University of Kentucky law professor Joshua Douglas. “It would be the end of democracy as we know it,” he told the AP. “This is just not a thing that can happen.”
What’s curious is that Michigan would go blue even if the president’s gambit succeeded. President-elect Joe Biden’s vote margin there is in the tens of thousands. What did Trump hope to accomplish by improperly pressuring obscure local election officials? If democracy isn’t the point, and winning Michigan isn’t the point, what is? I think the point can be seen in Palmer and Hartmann’s term “improperly pressured.”
True improper pressure is the president of the United States calling an obscure local election official to say she and the other guy made the wrong choice, now go out there and humiliate yourselves in my name even if there’s no chance of winning Michigan. False improper pressure is local citizens like Ned Staebler who, during a public hearing of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers, said Palmer and Hartmann were choosing to disenfranchise Black Detroiters, a cardinal sin for which they will burn in Hell.
Palmer said she sat in a chair for hours and was pressured. She was pressured by the conscience of the people, a group which had already cast its vote. That is not in the same ballpark as Trump calling up on the phone and trying to meddle in an election that has already been decided. Not by a long shot.
Free speech isn’t a threat unless it’s literal. Otherwise, it’s protected. People seeking to invalidate democracy often make free speech seem threatening, though. “I sat in that chair for two hours listening to people attack me.” That’s what Palmer and Hartmann mean by “improperly pressured.” Outrage poured down on them for refusing to certify the vote. The public pressured them. Democracy urged them. Nothing’s improper there.
Donald Trump doesn’t want to go by the book, he wants to burn the book. He wants to burn all the books, for that matter, and tell his cult what they want to hear and what he wants them to know. That is the basis of all of this.
Right now, he’s got his team of conspiracy theorist lawyers on the airwaves talking about communist plots and “leftist” threats from “Antifa from Grosse Pointe”. And Trump just keeps pushing his alternate reality.
Holy shit you're stupid. The Michigan Secretary of State confirmed there are no "take backs" and the rogue Wayne County officials can't simply undo their certification. Michigan will be certified statewide for Biden on Monday. Have fun chasing your tail, Beavis.
— Palmer Report (@PalmerReport) November 19, 2020
Criminal conspiracy in plain sight. https://t.co/9iSaaPfz6y
— Jesse Lee (@JesseCharlesLee) November 19, 2020
I need someone to explain why this isn't election tampering. I need someone to explain why the Dems hair isn't on fire about all of this. "Everything will work out fine" is not a strategy against a desperate, cornered pig who happens to hold Executive power. https://t.co/w0RnBv6yAV
— Dave Zirin (@EdgeofSports) November 19, 2020
This is appallingly destructive. https://t.co/yh9LJ2vjIJ
— Julie Novkov (@NovkovJulie) November 19, 2020
That it is.