My View: Can We Survive This Moment?

By David M. Greenwald

There was an interesting moment yesterday, as the US Supreme Court issued a 7-2 ruling rejecting the Texas lawsuit that was joined by 17 other attorneys general across the county and signed onto by more than 120 Republican members of country.  A few minutes later flashing across my screen was the typical 6-3 vote rejecting another stay of execution for another person needlessly to be executed by the federal government in the waning days of the Trump administration.

It was a reminder that this conservative court, filled with three Trump appointees, twice in the past week stood as a bulwark for democracy—even as they needlessly put two men to death.

Seven to two is a bit misleading.  The majority ruled that the motion for leave “is denied for lack of standing under Article III of the Constitution” in that “Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another State conducts its elections.”

Justices Alito and Thomas dissented, noting, “In my view, we do not have discretion to deny the filing of a bill of complaint in a case that falls within our original jurisdiction.”  They note, “I would therefore grant the motion to file the bill of complaint but would not grant other relief, and I express no view on any other issue.”

I interpret that to mean that, while they believe they could not deny filing of the bill, they denied any further relief.  A technical issue to be sure.

Most experts did not give this effort any chance, despite the signing on of over 120 House Republicans.  Most experts now believe the legal avenues are largely closed.

I do note with bemusement that Sidney Powell’s secret military intelligence expert at the center of her fraud claims turns out never to have worked in military intelligence, the Washington Post reported on Friday.

Referred to under the code-name, “Spyder,” he alleges that publicly available data about server traffic shows that voting systems in the United States were “certainly compromised by rogue actors, such as Iran and China.”

The Post identifies him as a 43-year-old information technology consultant from Dallas.  The Post notes, “Records show that Merritt is an Army veteran and that he enrolled in a training program at the 305th Military Intelligence Battalion, the unit he cites in his declaration. But he never completed the entry-level training course.”

The reality is that the Supreme Court, which many Trump supporters saw as their “trump” card, is not about to overturn the election.  The Electoral College will meet on Monday, and it will almost certainly vote to elect Joe Biden as the next President.

And then what?  Does this charade end?  There could be a play on January 6 by some Republicans in Congress—though they don’t have the numbers most likely to do much, and it is unclear what power they actually possess at this point to undo the will of the voters and the Electoral College.

The real question at this point is where does all of this leave us.

The Texas GOP Chairman issued a statement where he appeared to be calling for secession: “Perhaps law-abiding states should bond together and form a Union of states that will abide by the constitution.”

More concerning is the fact that 17 state attorneys general and 120 members of Congress would sign on to the Texas lunacy led by a Texas AG—who is under instigation for securities fraud and probably filed the suit as an audition for a presidential pardon.

This was a close election, but really not that close with a 4.5 point margin and 7 million vote gap.  That puts it as the second largest gap behind 2008, this century—a century notable for its close elections.

I have seen references from some Trump supporters that this was the most corrupt election in US History—an assertion that is not only contradicted by the lack of evidence of systemic or widespread fraud, but also history.

But that’s what should really scare us here.  The election of 1876 probably actually deserves that honor, and it took a deal to end Reconstruction to seat Rutherfod B. Hayes.  Then 1960, many argue with actual justification, may have turned on returns from Chicago precincts withheld by Mayor Daley and perhaps Texas, which had already seen Lyndon Johnson clearly steal the 1948 Senate race (as chronicled in Robert Caro’s gripping account).

That election came down to about 31,000 votes in those two states in a race ultimately decided by less than one-tenth of one percent.

Then of course there is the 2000 Presidential election which came down to about 500 votes in Florida.  The US Supreme Court by a 5-4 vote shut down the recounting of ballots there, but later analysis from the NY Times found that even a full counting using the most liberal methods would have still rendered Bush the winner—however, they also found the butterfly ballot may have played a huge role, with tens of thousands of votes for Gore and a third party spoiling the ballot, suggesting that without such confusion, Gore may well have won.

That’s wasn’t fraud per se.  As I put it at the time, Florida simply was so close that it was within the margin of error.

This election was not that close by those standards.  Biden won narrowly in states like Georgia and Arizona, but actually didn’t need to win either of those states to prevail in the Electoral College.

It is worth noting and commenting that just about every state and local Republican official whose judgment and authority actually mattered, particularly those in Arizona and Georgia, put professionalism over their political expediency.  Judges, whether they were Democratic or Republican appointees, held their independence.  Local election officials were generally beyond reproach.

But what happens next time?  What would have happened had this election been a lot closer?  More like 2000 or even 2016?  And does this become the new norm—that every time someone loses, there are wild allegations, lawsuits, and efforts by the President to convince state and local officials to ignore the will of the voters?

We may have dodged these bullets and perhaps also the scenario where Trump refuses to leave—although we will have to see on that—this time, but what happens next time?  How do we function as a democracy when in one of its core tenets, we do not accept losing?

—David M. Greenwald reporting


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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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27 Comments

  1. Keith Olsen

    The Texas GOP Chairman issued a statement where he appeared to be calling for secession: “Perhaps law-abiding states should bond together and form a Union of states that will abide by the constitution.”

    Like this is new?  Remember “CalExit” for one example.  There was also talk of the west coast seceding if Trump had won a contested 2020 election.

        1. Alan Miller

          Only if there is an ounce of sincerity in it.  No one is forming a 17 state military or a west coast panzee squad.  Has anyone drawn a map with the shape of the new 17-state nation?

    1. Tia Will

      Keith

      Yes, this is something new. There is a huge difference between what a group of AGs and over 100 representatives do and talk about doing, and what is rumored it might be nice to do by people who essentially have nothing to do with the decision making process.

    2. Dave Hart

      “Pleased with the SCOTUS ruling, but also immediately slightly terrified of where this crazy train goes next,” Brendan Buck, an adviser to the last two Republican speakers, Paul Ryan and John Boehner, wrote on Twitter. He later added, “We should know by now there’s a bottomless supply of crazy.”

  2. Keith Olsen

    Speaking of not accepting the results of an election, the Democrats never accepted Trump’s victory in 2016.  They spied on an incoming candidate/president then crafted the Mueller investigation based on a fake Clinton Steele Dossier while abusing the use of the FISA court and later they impeached him with basically no real evidence using an anonymous tipster.  Then we have the real classy move by Pelosi of tearing up his State of the Union speech as she stood right behind the president.  Not to mention the formation of the “Resistance” among Democrats all over the in order country to fight an incoming president.

    So Democrats need not act all righteous now, they’re reaping what their “Resistance” created over the last four years.

    High-minded commentators who paid relentless and respectful attention to what were obviously absurd and concocted charges of Russian collusion lament this state of affairs. They urge everyone to heed Joe Biden’s call to “unify” the nation.

    They have a point. Democrats misbehaved for four years in trying to delegitimize Donald Trump’s 77,736-vote victory. Trump and many Republicans have been misbehaving for four weeks in trying to delegitimize Joe Biden’s 43,809-vote victory.

    The conservative National Review is right to denounce Trump’s “disgraceful endgame.” But its liberal counterparts have done little or nothing to denounce Democrats’ disgraceful flouting of longstanding norms. The few left writers — Glenn Greenwald (see article), Matt Taibbi — have taken flak and separated themselves from institutional affiliations.

    Democrats who are dismayed that many Americans aren’t meekly accepting the legitimacy of the Biden presidency are in the process of learning a lesson taught a very long time ago. You reap what you sow.

    https://nypost.com/2020/12/04/democrats-reaping-the-whirlwind-of-their-2016-election-resistance/

    1. David Greenwald

      Another pointless attempt a both-sides-ism.  Hillary Clinton conceded on November 9 – the next day after the election. There was no court efforts to overturn the verdict. The Muller investigation attempted to figure out the extent of the Russian interference ( there was interference) and the extent to which Trump and his campaign directly conspired with the Russians (limited evidence – but some). It was not an effort to overturn the election. There has never been a lawsuit of the sort Texas brought forth – not in 1876, not in 1960. The lawsuit in 2000 was an attempt to keep counting, not disregard the results.

    2. Tia Will

      With one very important difference. HRC conceded. She did not hold rallies and events at which she encouraged an overthrow of the results. The resistance was to policy, not aimed at denying Trump the WH. That only came after his impeachment.

  3. Keith Olsen

    “How do we function as a democracy when in one of its core tenets, we do not accept losing?”

    After Trump won the 2016 election, a Change.org petition called on “conscientious electors” to “protect the Constitution from Donald Trump, and to support the national popular vote winner.”

    “Donald Trump has not been elected president,” the petition read. “The real election takes place December 19, when the 538 Electoral College Electors cast their ballots – for anyone they want. If they all vote the way their states voted, Donald Trump will win,” the petition noted. “However, in 14 of the states in Trump’s column, they can vote for Hillary Clinton without any legal penalty if they choose.”

    This wasn’t just some random petition with a few measly people signing onto it. A whopping 4,893,520 people signed this petition.

    https://pjmedia.com/election/matt-margolis/2020/11/09/flashback-millions-signed-petition-urging-electors-to-vote-for-hillary-after-trump-won-in-2016-n1132448

    The recount in Wisconsin didn’t work. Trump picked up 162 votes. The Pennsylvania recount was rejected by the judge. That dashes the recount plans but Democrats are now placing their hopes on the Hamilton Electors who are attempting to get electors to switch their votes. The Clinton campaign has jumped on this bandwagon as they did with the recounts.

    https://www.independentsentinel.com/hillarys-back-trying-to-sway-electors/

  4. Matt Williams

    Here’s one answer from David Brooks provided on last Friday’s PBS Newshour. I find it particularly resonant.

    Shields and Brooks on the damage done by Trump’s claims of election fraud
    Dec 4, 2020 6:33 PM EST

    Judy Woodruff:

    David, how deep is the damage that’s being done?

    David Brooks:

    Well, 77 percent of Republicans or Trump backers say the election was stolen by fraud, according to a Monmouth poll. A lot of those same people don’t believe in manmade climate change. A lot of those same people don’t believe that masks can save your life.

    So, there’s a section of a country that’s become detached from reality and, under Trump paranoia, has become a style, a resurgent style.

    I wrote a column about this a week ago. And I tried to theorize that this derives out of a sense of menace and threat, that people feel existentially unsafe, and so they grasp for conspiracy theories, because it makes them feel powerful, that they see the truth. It makes them feel agency. They can expose the evil cabals.

    And I think there’s some truth to that, that people — a lot of people just feel very scared economically, socially, racially. And out of that fear comes paranoia.

    But I got a lot of e-mails from people. Like, I got one from a guy in Palo Alto. And he said, the neurosurgeon down my block believes all this stuff. So, where’s his anxiety? And I’d say, I don’t know the answer to that question.

    But there is a lot of anxiety. There’s a lot of fear, and out of that has arisen an entire industry of paranoia-mongering. The Newsmax, the far right-wing media TV station, their viewership has gone up 20 times since the election. So, that paranoia is pretty deep and pretty widespread right now.

  5. Bill Marshall

    The premise of this article is hilarious!   As is much of the shrek presented in the silly posts that the article was intended to generate!  Gotta’ get the “hits” to drive advertising rates, and/or egos…

    The simple answer to the question posed, is, “of course we can survive this moment!”… and the next and the next… just a matter of will and determination… we survived the Revolution, the Civil War, the elections of 1876, Reconstruction, the Spanish Flu, and on and on… might have some scars, might need changes, but this is not Argemeddon… it’s a troublesome nuisance…

    Instead of speculating on “what if’s?”, agonizing over “woulda’, coulda’, shoulda’s” is not particularly constructive, and will not “move the football”… so far the actual outcomes of simply letting things play out, react to them, learn from them, seems like the most sensible course of action

    So, y’all enjoy your “points-counterpoints” if it is giving y’all ‘pleasure’… I’ll wait until it is time for action… SCOTUS appears to be doing that… by denying certain actions…

    Apparetly from the news on-line, some die-hards have decided to hold a rally to appeal the ‘the Highest Court’… praying that God will intervene… got a feeling that will ‘be as successful’ as the other court/legal appeals to date… it is thought that ‘God answers all prayers’… but often the answer is “no”…

    1. Ron Oertel

      The premise of this article is hilarious!   As is much of the shrek presented in the silly posts that the article was intended to generate!  Gotta’ get the “hits” to drive advertising rates, and/or egos…

      Agreed.  And yet – here we all are, reading it and commenting on it.

      The same “crew” as usual.  😉

    2. Tia Will

      Bill

      Whether or not your comment is accurate depends entirely on how you define the word “we”. In just this one year, there have been, as of this am, 296K deaths of Americans due to COVID-19, 89 of them here in Yolo County. Many of these deaths would have been preventable with a scientifically based response and consistent messaging starting in January when the federal administration knew the true nature of the problem and decided to downplay ( or lie) about it. Many more of us will not survive it. It pays to be very specific when any of us talk about “we”.

      1. Alan Miller

        Whether or not your comment is accurate depends entirely on how you define the word “we”.

        It’s also important how you define the word “you” — or is it how we define the word “you”?

        I think I confused we.

      2. Bill Marshall

        Well Tia, I assumed that David was not using the “royal we” and was speaking about the US system of government, particularly elections, legal system response. and peripherally death penalty decisions… thought that was the thrust… not individuals…

        Many americans will die of:  heart disease, diabetes, cancers, traffic collisions, suicide, falls, congenital conditions, sickle cell disease, medical malpractice, lightning, snake bite, malnutrition, gunfire, etc., etc., etc.  They will not survive… over 2 million americans died in 2018…

        Got news for you… 100% of americans will die, at some point.  Fact of life… and, death… ‘we’ will, as living individuals will not survive to see the year 2150…

        Your comment is strange, indeed, given the context of the article and my comment.  Enjoy yourself in responding as you did, though.  Your right and perogative…

  6. Alan Miller

    We may have dodged these bullets and perhaps also the scenario where Trump refuses to leave—although we will have to see on that—

    This still comes up, Trump not leaving, and yet not DG nor one single person on this blog comment section will wager me a mere $50 to prove to our grand City of Davis just how much they believe that will actually happen.  Why?  Because Trump won’t be in the White House in February.  How do I know?  Melania has spoken!

  7. Ron Glick

    “Speaking of not accepting the results of an election, the Democrats never accepted Trump’s victory in 2016.  They spied on an incoming candidate/president then crafted the Mueller investigation based on a fake Clinton Steele Dossier while abusing the use of the FISA court and later they impeached him with basically no real evidence using an anonymous tipster.  Then we have the real classy move by Pelosi of tearing up his State of the Union speech as she stood right behind the president.  Not to mention the formation of the “Resistance” among Democrats all over the in order country to fight an incoming president.”

    Too much Fox News clouds the mind.

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