They call us radicals as they try to subvert democracy

Calling an entire election into question with no evidence is as radical as you can get.

The events of the past week have distorted many things and clarified many others. One of the things it has clarified is that the Republican Party has no interest in upholding the most basic tenet of a democratic republic: free and fair elections. As they perform the very un-democratic task of calling Joe Biden’s win into question, the GOP and its media allies are also pushing a narrative that the Democratic Party is led by far left radicals who want to do everything from take your guns to cancel Christmas to perhaps provide you decent health care. 

This, of course, is not true. Yes, Beto O’Rourke once boasted that he would take away your AR-15, but Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have largely avoided even discussing gun control, let alone whether they have any plans to push forward on the issue. Instead, they’ve spent the days since winning the election doing what presidents-elect normally do: setting up a team to adequately run the federal government and implement their policy goals. Those goals are not nearly as radical as the Trump sycophants taking to the airwaves and spewing their bullshit online would have you believe. 

In fact, it’s the Republican Party that has become more radical in the last four decades, as my colleague Jeremy Borden pointed out in April — a trend that went into warp speed with the election of Donald Trump, an obvious fascist with no respect for democracy or the laws that protect it. Meanwhile, Democrats have wrongly tried to meet the GOP in a middle that is increasingly right of where the center was 30 years ago. But before we get into that, let’s examine some of the claims Republicans are making regarding voter fraud in this election.

  • In Pennsylvania, the state Republican party found that 21,000 dead people were on state voter rolls — which is legitimately concerning! But the Breitbart story laying out this explosive development notes, cautiously, that the Philadelphia GOP “alleges” that 840 dead people supposedly voted in the election. In a tweet, the state GOP said you could “see it here for yourself,” while linking to the page on the secretary of state’s website that allows one to search for names of individual voters to see if their ballots had been counted. One would think that that legal team pressing the claim that tons of ballots were cast on behalf of the dead would go through the work of putting together a list of the 840 dead voters, complete with proof that they’re the same person who has had an obituary printed in the local newspaper. But that’s basic shit. And the people who are running Trump’s legal team in Pennsylvania — which include reporter-beating Corey Lewandowski and corrupt former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi — do not, clearly, know how to do basic shit. A second story on dead people voting in Pennsylvania provides a single example of such an occurrence — albeit without any examination of whether there could have been someone with the same name and date of birth as the alleged deceased voter in question. 

  • In Michigan, Republicans have said more than 14,000 dead people were on the voter rolls. When CNN randomly chose 50 names of deceased Michiganders’ and ran them through the state voting website, they found not a single corpse with a vote. 

  • In Georgia, un-elected Kelly Loeffler and her fellow insider trader David Perdue have called on the secretary of state — a Republican — to resign over his alleged mishandling of the election here. Naturally, they provided no such hard evidence that anything nefarious occurred, instead choosing to eat one of their own in the hopes it turns out enough of their Trump-loving base to put them back in Washington after a forthcoming January runoff. 

  • In Wisconsin, the Trump campaign has failed to pay the $3 million required to start a recount, which tells you all you need to know about the president’s belief in his chances in that state.

  • Nationwide, the campaign is asking its supporters for money to boost its legal efforts — all while noting in the fine print that as much as 60 percent of money received will go to paying off old campaign debts, which again tells you all you need to know about Trump’s belief that he can actually win all these legal battles.

Most of the GOP and the attorney general are now complicit in an effort not just to avoid the results of this election but call it — entirely and unfoundedly — into question. Even though it appears the actual lawyers working on these lawsuits are mostly mailing it in, the fact that they’re doing it all is very concerning. Yes, most of this is in service of Trump’s ego but it’s also so Republicans can call future elections into question. They’re setting up a significant number of Americans to believe that this election was stolen from by Democrats so that in 2022, 2024 and beyond they can remind them of this “fraud” and they’ll buy it. 

Republicans know this. Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham know this. It doesn’t help democracy or their working class supporters and makes the prospect of societal unrest more likely, but it helps them stay in power, which is what all of this is about. That’s fine, as far as politics goes. We all believe our side is right and that we can improve American life through our own politics. But there used to be norms, norms that Democrats stupidly still abide by, thinking that their Republican colleagues will one day do the same — perhaps once the storm of Trumpism has passed! This is wrong. What Democrats have failed to understand is that, even before the madness of Trump, Republicans had no interest in Democratic norms, or civility, or “working across the aisle.” It was always about unmitigated power. This is why the authoritarian part of the Republican brain has always been more prominent than the libertarian one. That’s why this is not the time for Democrats to come toward the center, for the “center” has been skewing right for decades — at the expense of working people and democracy. And even — and Joe Biden would do himself a favor to say explicitly — at the expense of the white working class. 

That’s how you clarify things for a people who voted for a child of millionaire Manhattan privilege who, just a few weeks ago joked in Erie, Pennsylvania that, if it weren’t for his unending need for affection and to be re-elected would never have previously ever gone to Erie, Pennsylvania — because why would he have? Erie sucks, he alluded. Why would he ever come there if the people there weren’t telling him they loved him? He told them he’d bring the jobs back but he hasn’t. And he and the Republican party never will. They busted your unions and colluded with corporations to ship your jobs overseas. They told your people in the working class that lower taxes on corporations would keep your jobs here even as they met with those corporate fat cats and came to an understanding that, to keep tax revenue flowing and corporate donations coming in for their political campaigns, they were willing to sell you out. I shouldn’t say you; I should say us. As much as I’ve hated on Trump over the last four years, I recognize that many people I know and love have supported him, giving more in common with many Trump supporters than I have differences. At this moment, I hate no more. I just want you to understand — as a son of the Midwest, as a son of coal-digging Prussian immigrants and Midwestern meat packers — that Donald Trump never cared about you. The only reason he went to you in Erie or Wilkes-Barre or anywhere else was because you gave him some of the affection he’s always sought. It’s sad to say it, but in private he jokes about people like you and me. He makes fun of us. We’re the suckers, he believes. We’re the workers who do what he needs for him to make 10,000 times the amount of money we make. We provide the strong backs to an operation that has made him billions that he has squandered, and our backs will never be the same. 

The radicalization of the Republican party over the last 40 years has publicly focused on social issues. Privately, it worked to undermine the working class — the very same people who were being riled up by a stew of pro-life, second amendment and impending-socialism fear-mongering. Now, they’ve added the lie of fraudulent elections to this mix. One more thing for you to be scared about and hate Democrats for. None of it’s true, of course. But truth is a very relative thing for much of this country, and Republicans have exploited that void perfectly.

This is a radical position. Questioning an entire election just because the president’s feelings are hurt and his dad never took him to a fucking baseball game is not only absurd but very dangerous. There’s been much talk of a future authoritarian president — not hindered by Trump’s crippling stupidity and stunning incompetence — actually succeeding at doing irreparable damage to democracy. Republicans, radicals that they are, have put themselves in position to embrace that, democracy be damned. 

All the photos from this post are from a very strange period in 2016, when it became apparent to me that Trump might actually become president. The first is from Trump’s rally in Chicago that never happened because Chicago doesn’t play and protesters shut that shit down. The second is from an abandoned building in East St. Louis. The third is of a veteran I met on the road somewhere in Ohio. His chopper went down in Iraq and everyone but him died, so he had it tattooed on its arm to memorialize his comrades. The final photo is from an abandoned Days Inn, somewhere north of Indianapolis off I-65. Thanks to all readers of Where Do We Go From here, and remember, if you like what you see, tell a friend.