Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Electors With No Coherent Strategy Leave Us Facing The Trump Reich

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In the end, the great Electoral College resistance and 'fail safe' check on Trumpian power went out more with a whimper than a bang. An effort by anti-Trump activists to stop him reaching 270 fell pathetically short. Activists who had urged electors to back efforts led by academics (e.g. Prof. Lawrence Lessig) to cast their ballots at variance with election results to keep Trump from reaching the magic number came to practically nothing. With counts still ongoing in California and Texas, the number of electoral college members who attempted to cast a protest vote was likely to reach at least nine. Wow, nine of 538!

What happened? Basically a combination of too little will to overturn the Electoral College as a mere rubber stamp, and too little actual strategy. Specifically, I place the preponderance of blame on two factors: 1) A disorganized effort to thwart the fascists with too many distracting and unrealistic alternative choices, and 2) An unwillingness to rock the boat and just play it safe, especially among Republican electors.  As for the much ballyhooed "Hamilton electors', they turned out to be more a myth than reality.  If a person had to, he might have counted them on one hand, if that.

The result was predictable: with only external protests erupting - as in Madison, WI-  Trump cakewalked to his official electoral victory as millions tuned in to updated tallies, aghast.  While many of us expected it to be an uphill fight, we didn't believe the electors- charged with being the last bastion to protect the Republic would simply surrender their duty so easily.

But there were some interesting moments. More than 200 demonstrators were on the steps of Pennsylvania’s capitol in Harrisburg on Monday morning, waving signs and chanting in chilly, 25F(-4C) weather. They thundered: “No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA!” and “No treason, no Trump!”

In respect of the latter, some on the Left have circulated that Trump ought to be hung for treason as a punishment for colluding with the Russkies to ambush Hillary, if ever impeached. There are several things wrong with this proposition including you can't just hang the man after being impeached (if he ever is, especially for "treason") and besides, there is as yet no proof Trump knew all along what was going on and "colluded". Besides, the Left has bigger things to worry about as I will get to.

Meanwhile, several dozen protesters gathered outside South Carolina’s statehouse in Columbia, waving signs with messages imploring electors not to back the president-elect.  But anyone familiar with the South ought to have known this would be a fool's errand. Most of those electors fly Confederate flags in their homes and would have laughed at the objectors.

Vermont was the first state to report the results of its vote. As expected, all three electors voted for Clinton. Arkansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, West Virginia and South Carolina followed for Trump, and Delaware for Clinton as the totals started to mount.

After a Hawaiian elector cast a vote for Bernie Sanders, the total was Trump with 304 votes and Clinton with 227. It takes 270 electoral college votes to win the presidency. Texas put Trump over the top, despite two Republican electors casting protest votes. Then there was Washington state which actually saw an elector or two voting for Colin Powell. In other words, they were 'all over the map' and had no coherent strategy to take down 'the Donald'.

In many cases, the Republican electors had taken their own kool aid, Jonestown-style, even as they were implored to do the right thing. Many admitted that they had been deluged with emails, phone calls and letters urging them not to support Trump. Many emails were part of coordinated campaigns, all trending with the same theme I had elaborated in my post from yesterday.

Lee Green, a Republican elector from North Carolina, told the Associated Press:

The letters are actually quite sad  They are generally freaked out. They honestly believe the propaganda. They believe our nation is being taken over by a dark and malevolent force.”

Dark and malevolent force? But what would one call a faction that has ascended to power by way of foreign intervention in the election, fake news and racist vitriol? Also, is led by a tweet-happy lunatic who (as recorded in a Sunday Review NY Times piece:) has:

"encouraged violence among supporters; pledged to prosecute Hillary Clinton; threatened legal action against unfriendly media; and suggested that he might not accept the election results.This anti-democratic behavior has continued since the election. With the false claim that he lost the popular vote because of “millions of people who voted illegally,” Mr. Trump openly challenged the legitimacy of the electoral process. At the same time, he has been remarkably dismissive of United States intelligence agencies’ reports of Russian hacking"

And as the piece further pointed out, political scientist Juan J. Linz definitely showed Trump passed the "litmus test" for an anti-democratic leader. His indicators included: a failure to reject violence unambiguously, a readiness to curtail rivals’ civil liberties, and the denial of the legitimacy of elected governments.  All of which ought to incite lots of foreboding on the Left and especially among those who value civil liberties.

As my sister-in -law Krimhilde put it on learning of the electoral college results: "It reminded of the day Hindenburg turned over the Chancellorship to Hitler....and then the Reichstag fire"  Sometimes, indeed,, people who ought to know better lose track of the historical patterns, and resonances.  But maybe that's because they never learned history in the first place.

Her reference to the "Reichstag fire"  evoked the singular event many Germans (who were alive then) trace to the establishment of the Nazi Third Reich. It occurred on 27 February 1933. Marinus van der Lubbe, a young Dutch council communist, was caught at the scene of the fire and arrested for the crime. Most Germans alive then -including Krimhilde, and three former Wehrmacht soldiers I spoke to in 1985-  believe the fire was a false flag and the kid was a patsy. A decoy used expediently to take the blame, as much as the Warrenites have tried to use Lee Oswald for assassinating John Kennedy.

But never mind, it led to pivotal changes in the nation, leading it to be unrecognizable within a few years. For example:

'The Decree for the Protection of the People and the State'  issued on Feb. 28, 1933 and which abolished basic rights, authorizing preventative arrest. That is, if you were even suspected of committing a "crime against the state" (including speaking out against it) you were arrested.

- March 22, 1933, the concentration camp at Dachau, outside Munich, was opened. Among the first dispatched there were journalists who flouted the 'Decree for the Protection of the German People' which limited freedom of the press.

- August 2, 1934, Paul von Hindenburg dies, and Hitler becomes Chancellor and Fuhrer.

So, looking at the parallels to previous history, there is more than ample basis for fear among those who value civil rights, liberties.

Of course, it's understandable why many other electors punted. Take the case of the sole Republican, Christopher Suprun of Texas, who said: “Since I announced my intention to vote according to my conscience, I have received about half a dozen death threats against me and my family."

Make no mistake we can expect many more such threats as Trumpeters become emboldened after Trump's inauguration and especially the massive protests being planned to disrupt that event. These are people who fall into a proud group Chris Suprin referenced when he said:

More happily, a person I’ve known for years who traces his ancestry back to the American revolution told me he thinks his forebears would have been proud of what I’m doing, which made me feel pretty good.”

And my own ancestor, Conrad Brumbaugh - who fought in the Revolutionary War- would have too!

Meanwhile, Wirt A Yerger Jr, a Republican elector in Mississippi, said: “I have gotten several thousand emails asking me not to vote for Trump. I threw them all away.”

But what would one expect from a Rebel yokel who likely has the Confederate flag flying over his home and draped on every wall?

The first prediction I have for Trump's first year will be a sober one: a false flag, in many ways like the Reichstag fire, that he will use to invoke Martial law and the repeal of civil liberties under the "continuity of government" provisions. Also, look for a repeal of habeas corpus, which loophole had been left in place on account of the Military Commissions Act (2006) and the most recent National Defense Authorization Act.

Be afraid, be very afraid.

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