Donald Trump’s behavior after losing the election was expected. The lame-duck president signaled an unwillingness to accept the results weeks in advance, and he planted the seeds of doubt regarding mail-in ballots as far back as June.
What’s more shocking is the willingness of large chunks of the Republican Party to play along with his authoritarian power plays and repeated attempts to overturn the presidential election (and no other election). If successful in his quest to invalidate millions of votes, Trump would effectively be dismantling what’s left of American democracy.
But he’s not alone in his attacks on American democracy.
As if on cue, Republican lawmakers in Georgia are proposing the elimination of no-excuse mail-in voting, nixing secure ballot drop boxes, and instituting a voter ID requirement for absentee ballots. The proposed legislation is in response to the president’s false claims of rampant mail-in voting fraud. Instead of standing up for Georgia voters and defending the rule of law, these lawmakers are bending the knee to a would-be autocrat.
Likewise, the attorney general of Texas, Ken Paxton, has made a mockery of the courts with a frivolous lawsuit against the battleground states of Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Paxton claims that the four battleground states – all of which President-elect Joe Biden won – improperly changed their election procedures to accommodate voters during the COVID-19 pandemic. (It’s worth noting that several subordinates recently accused Paxton of bribery and abuse of office.)
Not to be outdone, seventeen Republican state attorneys general (along with the president himself) threw their support behind the Texas lawsuit, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene and throw the election to Trump. Undoubtedly the publicity-seeking attorneys general will relish their moment in the sun – but at the cost of democratic norms and the reputation of the courts in the eyes of the public.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel – who was recently the target of armed Trump supporters protesting at her home – called Paxton’s lawsuit “beneath the dignity of the office of [the] attorney general and the people of the great state of Texas.” She added that the complaint has “already been thoroughly litigated and roundly rejected in both state and federal courts — by judges appointed from both political parties.”
By the way, if it strikes you as odd that one state sues another state (let alone multiple states) regarding how they conduct their own elections (over a month after that election is already completed, no less), that’s because it is highly unusual.
Which brings us back to the title of this piece. The Republican Party is increasingly authoritarian. And it’s not just Trump that we’re talking about but his enablers in Congress and state government as well.
Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore, Flickr