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Thu Oct 29, 2020, 02:19 PM

Frank Rich: Tuesday's Worst-Case Scenario

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The worst of the worst-case election scenarios; the MAGA "guest experience" in Omaha; the WSJ's internal autopsy. My new Circus @nymag @intelligencer

Frank Rich: Tuesday’s Worst-Case Scenario
Biden may well win in a landslide, but there’s still plenty to keep liberal insomniacs awake.


We’re now less than a week from Election Day, and even the experts seem to be trying to prepare for every sort of surprise. What has been keeping you up at night as we wait for the counting to begin?

Election eve insomniacs start with a given: Trump will do everything possible to steal an election that by every empirical sign he cannot win. So when you look at all the anti-democratic options he and his party are considering — a list so large it has spawned a voluminous journalistic literature of horrific what-if scenarios — you do have to prioritize your anxieties.

Back in August, Jeremy Stahl at Slate provided a handy “10 Scariest Election Scenarios, Ranked.” Number one was “USPS Sabotage.” A lot of shit has gone down since then. My number one fear in the cold light of Halloween is any attempt at voter suppression involving violence. The Proud Boys are standing back and standing by. So are fellow travelers of the Wolverine Watchmen, who have been charged with the attempted kidnapping of Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer. So are self-styled militia like the Kenosha Guard, whose Facebook call to arms appeared just before 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse shot and killed two protesters, with the tacit support of the president. More than 15 million guns have been purchased by Americans from March through September in 2020 — a 91 percent increase from the same period in 2019. These arms can be brandished at many polling places to intimidate Americans, especially the people of color whose votes the GOP wants to suppress. They can be used to threaten local officials charged with counting votes. Gun-toting domestic terrorists can steal or destroy ballot drop boxes. They can incite conflicts that will suppress and block turnout in cities. “And all you have to do is move your little finger … and you can change the world,” as John Wilkes Booth sings in Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins.

Among my other 3 a.m. waking nightmares this week, the runner-up would be how Trump can once again corrupt and outright violate American law to try to get his way. This has been most succinctly crystallized by Garrett Graff in Politico: “Barr’s Justice Department might seize on real, over-hyped, or imagined questions of fraud or voting irregularities to publicly launch investigations that would help Trump build a narrative of an illegitimate election.” If any of this reaches the courts, we can predict the endgame. In his instantaneously notorious opinion in a Wisconsin voting case this week, Brett Kavanaugh endorsed Trump’s bogus claim that any ballots counted after November 3 are likely to be compromised by fraud. We’ve reached the point where the last hope for stopping a right-wing coup in the Supreme Court may be Chief Justice John Roberts. That’s no hope at all, given that it was Roberts who in 2013 led the majority to castrate the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in Shelby County v. Holder, the Dred Scott decision of our day.

To keep our sanity, meanwhile, we are entitled to some legitimate hopes even if we don’t want to say them out loud for all the usual superstitious reasons. The polls are likely sounder than in 2016, when they were not as inaccurate (as FiveThirtyEight keeps reminding us) as memory has it. There could be a Biden landslide. For all Trump’s calls to cut off vote counting at midnight on Election Night in such congenitally slow-counting battlegrounds as Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, he doesn’t seem to have considered the prospect that he might be behind in either one of them by that extralegal deadline. If he earlier loses Florida, Arizona and/or North Carolina, which tend to count fast, it would be fun to watch him flip-flop and beg desperately to extend the count for weeks in western Pennsylvania. Such ironic humiliations — along with the defeats of the most hypocritical of Vichy Republicans, Susan Collins and Lindsey Graham — may well prove pipe dreams, but we’re still entitled to fantasize a little.


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Reply Frank Rich: Tuesday's Worst-Case Scenario (Original post)
Nevilledog Oct 29 OP
muriel_volestrangler Oct 29 #1

Response to Nevilledog (Original post)

Thu Oct 29, 2020, 02:42 PM

1. "the last hope for stopping a right-wing coup in the Supreme Court may be Chief Justice John Roberts

Not even that good. Unless Coney Barrett recuses herself (and there's no sign she has the basic decency or sense of shame to do so), Roberts could vote with the sane justices and they'd still lose to the crazies. And Roberts' standing as Chief Justice won't influence the 5 to his right at all. Not when they have a chance of power.

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