But there is another way of looking at it. Is this nightmarish scenario really a function of Trump’s power and his dominance over his party? Or do the extra-constitutional methods Trump might adopt as we enter the twilight of the 2024 election reflect his core weakness and the continued degradation of Republican power? Are we looking at a player holding a top deck or as a bluff artist with a weak hand threatening to blow up the casino unless he wins the pot?
It’s hard to know, and the political establishment – the media included – has done an embarrassingly bad job in the past. As Kagan notes, we deserved Trump because we underestimated him the first time around. But at the dawn of 2024, does it make sense to compensate by overestimating it?
If Trump were the Election Day Colossus Kagan and other observers think he is, wouldn’t the best strategy for 2024 be to run more like he did in 2016 – a mildly savage Republican – and less like he did in 2020, as a rabid nutcase? He could just pull together all those campaign giveaways that are pouring in and start a solid playing field to reclaim the states he won in 2016 but lost in 2020, and leave the Constitution and election laws in place. But so far it is not.
The only person or party that attempts a coup is the one that cannot win by other means. Preparing for a coup – which we can admit Kagan is right about Trump – is not a sign of political strength but a sign of political weakness. By signaling an attempt to regain power by any means necessary, Trump is essentially admitting that Trumpism is not and is not likely to become a majority movement.
Evidence of Trumpian weakness abounds. Neither Trump nor his supporters show much interest in debating the facts behind the issues, whether it is Covid-19, the climate, the results of the votes, or when he wrongly stated that ‘he had “total” authority over how states manage their responses to the pandemic. Notes from false legal claims He and his team did so by challenging the collapsed election results without much effort to defend them. Trump likes to argue assertively, like all three-year-olds, because in many cases his bold assertion is the only trump card in his argument.
The servile obedience to Trump that so many of his supporters pay him does not indicate the power of a leader, either. A strong political leader and movement have room for debate and consensus building, training and development of new talents to expand the party. Trump prefers a monarchical arrangement in which he dictates from the top down – and that produces instability when there is no mechanism for the king to ultimately cede power to his princes or princesses.
Revising election laws, having elected state officials requisition the electoral process, sending activists to harass Trump’s tenders and other strategies that Kagan predicts in his article are all very frightening. But they, too, convey the Republican belief that Republicans cannot win elections unless a big thumb is placed on the scales. This is the strategy you would see from people who know they are losers and will never be able to call a majority vote again, so they have to change the rules to institutionalize minority power. The Keystone cops The quality of the Eastman plan, which postulates one impossible political spin after another, is a pastiche of the fantastic thinking of a minority never encountered in American politics before.
If Trump were to pull off a coup in 2024 – and I’m not saying it would be impossible – it’s worth asking how non-Trumpors, who have been in the majority in the last two elections, would react to the seizure. âLiberal democracy requires the acceptance of unfavorable election results, a willingness to accept the temporary rule of those with whom we disagree,â Kagan writes in his essay. But a coup does not require acceptance. A government installed by a coup does not enjoy even a fraction of the legitimacy of a government by election, even if the election is marked with a slight asterisk, as the race of 2000 did. It would only inspire a majority backlash, and maybe backlash, and backlash. Trump is crazy enough to invite this fight, and narcissistic enough not to care what he’s doing back home. But is he smart enough to win it?
Trump and his Republicans fear their own disintegration. This sense of threat gives them power on the electoral base, but it has also made them politically desperate. Their lack of scruples does not make them omnipotent: it makes them vulnerable to serious and determined adversaries. The savagery of Trump’s ultimate maneuver, whatever it is, will demand a lot of us, but most of all it will force us to keep our cool and fair. vote. You don’t beat a crazy card player by going crazier.
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