If Democracy comes through this whole, it will be because 1) The people behind the coup telegraphed their intentions every step of the way, and 2) Even the most mainstream of the mainstream media didn’t try to normalize what they were doing.
This morning’s headline and story in the Washington Post must be unprecedented. Here’s its lede: “President Trump is using the power of his office to try to reverse the results of the election, orchestrating a far-reaching pressure campaign to persuade Republican officials in Michigan, Georgia and elsewhere to overturn the will of voters in what critics decried Thursday as an unprecedented subversion of democracy.”
And the New York Times has a similar one.
But here’s the thing: how will we be able to say that Democracy came through this intact even if Biden does take office at some point, knowing as we now do that one of our two major parties so disdains the principle of majority rule? Even if Trump does vacate the White House voluntarily, he will still be the undisputed head of the Republican party. What do they stand for at this point, besides the disenfranchisement of majority black cities, plague denial, and universal deference to Donald Trump and his children?
I went back and read one of my old Salon stories about conspiracy theory this morning. In it, I mentioned a poll in which more than 40 percent of Republicans believed that Obama was plotting to stay in office after his second term. Those were the days! Such innocence. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that 80 percent of Republicans today believe that Soros paid the Chinese to concoct Covid-19–and that those same people also believe that it’s no worse than the flu. I wrote another story back then in which I said that conspiracy theory was the canary in the coal mine of Democracy.
Its specific claims don’t mean much (they always tell the same story about the cabal of bloodsucking, pederast billionaire/Communist/Jewish/Jesuits/Masons/Muslim/Lizards). But its waxing and waning is kind of a way to take the temperature of the polity. And we are running a very high fever.