The story of the good Republican crackup

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“We must resolutely train ourselves to feel that the survival of Man on this Earth, much more of our own nation or culture or class, is not worth having unless it can be had by honorable and merciful means.” – C.S. Lewis, “On living in an atomic age,” 1948.


It’s wonderful to put in writing, however the largest political story in Georgia at this time just isn’t about Tuesday’s white-knuckle, two-seat runoff election with management of the Senate on the road. 

Instead, it’s a recording of President Trump badgering the state’s elections chief to swipe Georgia’s electoral votes for him.

Or, as Trump may characterize it, swipe them again.

In a leaked recording of a weekend name between Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, the president tells Raffensperger to “find” only one extra vote than wanted to reverse President-elect Joe Biden’s 11,779-vote Georgia victory.

Trump advised Raffensperger – who rejected the demand – that such corruption is merited as a result of he actually received the state by “hundreds of thousands of votes.”

The declare is, in fact, hogwash. But the truth that Trump continues to be making an attempt so laborious to filch a second time period and the truth that so many Republicans are nonetheless enjoying alongside regardless of Trump’s conduct is without doubt one of the largest tales of the century up to now.

What Trump is doing with the assistance of many members of his occasion is definitely essentially the most traditionally vital a part of his presidency – greater than an impeachment, greater than judicial appointments or any piece of coverage. It is unprecedented and offers with issues central to the survival of the republic

This is really Trump’s legacy mission, and its disposition can have an excellent deal to say about the way forward for a badly divided Republican Party and in addition our capability as Americans for self-governance within the period of brain-dead partisanship and simple disinformation.

We’ve tried to not spend an excessive amount of time on the flapdoodle of Trump’s makes an attempt. They could also be vital for historical past taken as a complete however they’re crushingly boring and largely irrelevant as a matter of day-to-day information.

Trump group: Everyone is ignoring the huge fraud that destroyed our democracy!!!!!!!!

Justices/judges/regulation enforcement/elections officers: Whoa! We’re all ears! Please present us the proof!

Trump group: Trump was profitable after which they saved counting votes after which he misplaced.

Justices/judges/regulation enforcement/elections officers: Ah! That’s as a result of some states counted mail-in ballots final, and Democrats dominated amongst mail-in voters. Because of the pandemic, there have been heaps extra mail-in votes this 12 months. You’re claiming fraud. You want proof of fraud.

Trump group: *shuffles papers and mumbles* Your demand PROVES that you’re a part of the Chinese Communist effort to destroy America. Do what we would like or we are going to destroy you!!!!

Justices/judges/regulation enforcement/elections officers: Ok bye. 

It has been the equal of a two-month-long Michael Avenatti interview and simply as painful to endure. #basta 

But with Trump on tape making an attempt to bully an elected official into fabricating an election end result and senators falling throughout themselves to affix Sens. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley in turning Wednesday’s congressional certification of outcomes into actuality tv, it looks like at this time is the time to slide on our hazmat go well with and get into it.

Fox News has numerous great coverage of the Georgia runoffs forward of Tuesday’s conclusion (although the precise counting could go on for much longer – sorry) and we can be again earlier than the polls shut with our full evaluation of the race. If you’d like some nice context and deep background, Chris joined Abby Hornacek on her latest “Getting Schooled” podcast to speak in regards to the peculiar historical past and particulars of this week’s runoffs.

The two topics are definitely intertwined. If Republicans do handle to lose the Senate in Georgia, Trump’s determined bid to cling to energy and the efforts by Republicans to assist him would be the predominant cause.

The key swing voters in Georgia are these mostly-affluent suburbanites who cut up their votes between Biden for president and the Republican Senate candidates. If the aim of getting a Republican Senate is to assist Trump, even to the purpose of this absurdity, then these of us received’t actually need a Republican Senate. In reality, they could wish to ship a message to the GOP about the best way their senators have been behaving.

Add in these poor souls who actually imagine Trump’s claims of large, uncorrected, systemic electoral fraud who determine to not vote and you’ve got created the one circumstances below which Republicans actually may lose the Senate.

Trump has promised to convey numerous new allegations of misconduct in opposition to Georgia’s elections officers to his rally tonight in Dalton, a small metropolis simply throughout the border from Chattanooga in a county the place Trump received 70 % of the vote.  

We can think about that within the wake of Sunday’s revelations, Trump’s assaults on the electoral system can be much more intense than in his December rally.

That’s a great distance of claiming: please benefit from the thread under which goals to hint the arc of the Republican meltdown and what it might portend. We suppose you’ll get one thing out of it and, hey, you possibly can no less than say it was definitely worth the worth.

See you Tuesday with the nitty gritty on Georgia. 

Backbone backfire – Pity poor James Lankford, the unlikeliest member of the Senate’s new election deflection brigade. His sudden and deep dive into the realm of the Kraken is sort of reflective of how this mania unfold within the GOP.

The junior senator from Oklahoma is up for re-election subsequent 12 months in a state Trump simply carried by 33 factors. But on Nov. 11, Republican Lankford did one thing the president very a lot didn’t like.  

While Lankford didn’t say the reality that Joe Biden had received the presidency, he did say that Biden wanted to start out receiving intelligence briefings instantly as a part of a potential transition.

Lankford, a member of the committee with oversight of the company that facilitates presidential transitions, mentioned on Tulsa speak radio: “I will step in as well to be able to push to say: ‘This needs to occur.’ So that regardless of the outcome of the election — whichever way that it goes — people can be ready for that actual task.”

Despite having been within the Senate for less than 5 years, Lankford was esteemed amongst his colleagues. He changed the legendary Tom Coburn and gave the impression to be rising into the job. In addition to his perch on Homeland Security and different high-profile committees, Lankford was chosen to be the chairman of the ethics committee.

So maybe he didn’t suppose it might be such a giant deal that he would say Biden must be briefed. After all, Lankford had gently criticized Trump’s Lafayette Park Bible brandishing photo-op in June and appeared to have suffered little for the president’s rebuke.

Lankford was unfortunate, this time, although. While different Republican senators would quickly make much less ambiguous statements about the necessity to get on with an orderly transition, Lankford’s hit simply earlier than the wave crested and so bought heaps of protection from reporters on the lookout for proof of a Trump-Senate GOP cut up.

Like many Republicans, Lankford could have assumed that after Trump had used up his authorized choices for contesting the election that issues would die down. What they didn’t know was that Trump was not operating a authorized effort, however moderately one other marketing campaign.

The brunt of that marketing campaign came down on Lankford and the senator soon buckled. Five days after saying that the matter wanted to be resolved instantly, Lankford mentioned he was “not in a hurry” to get Biden briefed.  


Lankford will need to have heard the drooling of his potential main challengers. If a serious query for primaries in states like Oklahoma subsequent 12 months can be how abject one’s assist for the previous president has been, Lankford has hassle. Rep. Markwayne Mullinfor example, is about as abject as they arrive.

By permitting that Biden may win and saying that he would “push” the Trump administration, Lankford plopped himself within the susceptible place earlier than the onrushing mass hysteria that grips the populist proper.

And that’s how Lankford, as soon as the boy surprise of the Boehnerite faction of the House GOP and up-and-comer of Mitch McConnell’s Senate squad, ended up signing on to Cruz’s radical effort to subvert the election.

Failing ahead – Not that it’s going to succeed. Like a number of the chicanery we’ve seen in Trump’s effort to cling to energy, Cruz’s bid depends on the data of its members that it’s going to fail.  

It’s one factor to aim to overturn an election for the sake of staging a made-for-TV spectacle on Wednesday, however neither Lankford nor any of the infamous self-promoters on Team Cruz would do it if it would truly work. None would wish to be remembered by historical past as having precipitated what would certainly be the worst disaster for the reason that Civil War.

This is simply par for Cruz, whom many Americans first bought to know because the architect of the bogus 2013 “defund ObamaCare” authorities shutdown. Then he succored Trump’s 2016 candidacy when he thought it might profit him however concluded his doomed run lashed up with John Kasich and Carly Fiorina in a determined, goofball bid to dam Trump. The man who advised delegates in Cleveland that 12 months to “vote your conscience” could have abrogated his former views, however by no means his ambition.

Cruz, six different senators and 4 senators-elect have joined collectively to demand that Congress choose a fee to carry out a 10-day “emergency audit” of the election outcomes and current its findings to state legislatures just some days earlier than the Jan. 20 inauguration so they may choose new electors and strip Biden of the presidency.  

Unless their calls for are met (which they received’t be) Cruz, & Co. say they’ll vote in opposition to certifying the votes of “disputed” electors (of which there are none).

By procedural guidelines, although, their votes will set off two hours of debate per contested state. That will enable Trump’s supporters to repeat their completely debunked claims.

But, like Cruz’s “Green Eggs and Ham” quasi-filibuster, the content material is sort of immaterial. The platform is the purpose. And for, say, a senator pondering of a presidential comeback or one being hounded by a mob again residence, it might be invaluable.

Unfortunately, the results of this little bit of keister masking will far outlast the fears and wishes of its perpetrators. 

Civil War re-enactors – Unlike his doable 2024 presidential rival, Hawley, Cruz didn’t wish to be so apparent in declaring his transfer a publicity stunt. So Cruz dressed it up with a proposal primarily based on the electoral disaster of the autumn and winter of 1876-1877. 

In the election of 1876, former Confederates lastly had sufficient energy to brutally crack down on the Black voters within the South – the start of an almost century-long effort to disclaim African-Americans the vote. That 12 months, in three states – Florida, Louisiana and South Carolina – Republican elections boards threw out outcomes they mentioned had been de-legitimated by terrorism.

As a end result, officers within the three states every despatched two slates of electoral votes to Congress: One deliberately inaccurate, the opposite correct however the results of brutal coercion. Lawmakers deadlocked. The Democrat-controlled House backed their man, New York Gov. Samuel Tilden, and the Republican Senate stood sturdy for theirs, Ohio Gov. Rutherford Hayes. That left 20 electoral votes in limbo and the presidency dangling by a thread.

This is the large distinction between then and now. All of the states have submitted their electoral votes and there’s no dispute. That is to not say that there is no such thing as a disagreement in regards to the outcomes, however there is no such thing as a dispute by way of the findings of the states.  

Private residents have opinions. Individual lawmakers have opinions. But in America, the states conduct elections, the outcomes of that are confirmed by designated officers. Congress has no function in conducting elections, solely in verifying that the outcomes are official.

The official findings are full and Biden received with 306 electoral votes. Congress has no energy to vary that. 

In reality, guidelines just like the “safe harbor” provision that helped conscientious lawmakers, officers and judges get thus far regardless of unprecedented efforts to subvert the outcomes are the product of a regulation handed within the wake of the 1876 nightmare to forestall a repeat.  

Playing with hearth – “Tilden or blood” was the cry of the Democrats that 12 months. If Congress didn’t give the presidency to Tilden, who had additionally received the favored vote, then Democrats mentioned the sons of the South can be able to resume hostilities in opposition to the Union.  

It could have been a hole menace given the devastated situation of the previous Confederacy, however for a nation nonetheless traumatized by conflict in methods we are able to’t think about, it was sufficient.

The fee that Cruz & Co. say they want to emulate was not for election investigation however moderately for looking for an answer for the impasse and save a rustic splitting on the seams. Its members ultimately voted eight to seven to award the disputed votes, and the presidency, to Hayes.

But Democrats had solely dropped their menace to blockade the end result after Hayes had agreed to tug the remaining federal troops out of the South. By then, there have been simply two vital garrisons within the former Confederacy. They had been there to guard the duly elected governments of South Carolina and Louisiana from terrorists.

But, understanding that he wouldn’t have the facility in a divided authorities to do rather more to guard Black Americans within the South anyway, Hayes capitulated and agreed to tug the troops out and let the terrorists drive Black lawmakers from energy. So started a decades-long reign of terror and its lasting disgrace.

The decision of the 1876 election was a catastrophe and the beginning of a dreadful interval of American historical past. That Cruz would invoke it now as a mannequin can be shabby sufficient even with out his assault on one of many central pillars of federalism: state management of elections. These new nationalists actually do imply enterprise. 

Leaders 144 years in the past had been looking for a option to resolve an inconclusive election with out setting off one other civil conflict. If these senators actually had been honest in making an attempt to do greater than play political video games, this may be the reverse.

That’s what you get – What Trump and his posse are hoping for on Wednesday is to have two mobs protesting the outcomes: one in Congress and one exterior in a promised “wild” rally of Trump supporters.

This would be the second consecutive transition that can be marked by mass protests. Like their pussycat-hat-wearing counterparts within the anti-Trump march of 2017, the pink hats of 2021 need the world to know that the brand new president just isn’t legit.

These sorts of mass demonstrations across the outcomes of elections are out of character for Americans. This is what you get in locations the place elections are usually not free and truthful or the place strongmen rule.

In historic phrases, elections in our period are cleaner than they’ve ever been. Fraud is way, a lot tougher than it was within the unhealthy previous days of political machines and stuffed poll packing containers. The diploma of scrutiny and oversight far, far surpasses something our mother and father or grandparents would have identified. 

And but, voters more and more imagine they’re rigged. That inverse correlation is the work of Trump, sure, but in addition of a coterie of parents throughout the political spectrum keen to take advantage of ignorance and worry for the sake of rapid beneficial properties – to outlive a main, to get clicks, to achieve a bonus on rivals.

The American system survives as a result of most residents and most elected officers are holding the road. But it’s cheap to anticipate that work goes to get tougher due to the recklessness of radicals. 

If we’ve got to repeat this distress in 2024, can we depend on so many lawmakers, officers and judges to face as much as the threats of a sore loser of their very own occasion? One would hope, however one would additionally assume that intervening main elections will proceed to punish people that prize propriety over occasion.

Like Lankford, many will discover that no resistance can be tolerated. Like Cruz, many others will discover that there are vital benefits available in not simply becoming a member of, however seeming to guide the parade.

Will some future Congress cross the road from crass pandering and into the precise work of stealing an election? Will the outcomes of some future election be determined not by counting ballots however by the partisan composition of statehouses? Will courts sooner or later cower from indignant mobs exterior their chambers?

Those issues are usually not the doubtless outcomes in our close to future. We maintain quick to our perception that Americans are likely to reject excesses in our leaders and that the pendulum will swing away from indignant populism of the left and proper. But it’s definitely a doable future that would unfold in our lifetimes.

Two many years from now, these of us nonetheless on this aspect of the sod can have an opportunity to mirror on the occasions of the autumn and winter of 2020-2021. Will we are saying that Trump set a precedent that his successors adopted? Will we are saying that the backlash in opposition to such efforts activated our small-r republican immune system in opposition to demagoguery?

The solutions to these questions received’t come on Wednesday or on Jan. 20. But how we as a folks reply them within the years to come back will decide whether or not America can endure within the Founders’ imaginative and prescient and meet the duties that include our privileged place in historical past.

“Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history. We of this Congress and this administration, will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance, or insignificance, can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation. We say we are for the Union. The world will not forget that we say this. We know how to save the Union. The world knows we do know how to save it. We — even we here — hold the power, and bear the responsibility. In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free — honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth. Other means may succeed; this could not fail. The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just — a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud, and God must forever bless.” – President Abraham Lincoln in a message to Congress, Dec. 1, 1862  

Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox each day? Sign up here. 

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