What Trump’s Refusal To Concede Says About American Democracy

“the sitting president’s refusal to acknowledge electoral defeat is worrisome, as it raises the prospect that he will not uphold a core tenet of democracy: Elections determine who is in power, and those who lose surrender power peacefully. The behavior of top Republican Party officials — subtly acknowledging that Trump must leave office on Jan. 20 but not openly rebuking his conduct — in some ways also violates that core value. And the combination of Trump’s and his party’s behavior raises a serious question: Is America’s democracy in trouble?

Maybe. People who study democratic norms and values both in the United States and abroad say that the behavior of Trump and the Republican Party over the past week deeply concerns them. Dartmouth College political scientist Brendan Nyhan says it’s important not to think of democracy in binary terms — that either a nation is or is not a democracy. Instead, Nyhan argues, democracy falls more on a spectrum, and based on how Trump broke with democratic values as president and how he is handling the end of his presidency, America does remain a democracy, but it is somewhat less democratic than it was pre-Trump.”

“Not only is Trump blocking his advisers from helping the incoming Biden administration get ready to deal with the pandemic, but the defeated president has largely disengaged from the COVID-19 crisis himself. In terms of managing the virus, America will be functionally without a president for two months.

We can’t totally rule out the most alarming possibility either — that Trump is going to try to stay in office past Jan. 20. After all, he has mobilized some key parts of the federal government and the Republican Party behind his efforts to question and undermine the election results.”

“It’s hard to know the answers to these questions. Democratic values are almost certain to be upheld this time — that is, the election determined who will be in charge, and the transfer of power will ultimately be peaceful. But it’s not totally clear that these values will be upheld the next time a Trump-like figure emerges. American democracy is likely to survive Trump, but his tenure has raised important questions about the state of America’s democracy and whether it will endure in perpetuity.”

McConnell-led Republicans hold steady against Trump concession

“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and top Republican lawmakers on Monday refused to recognize Joe Biden as the president-elect, defending President Donald Trump as he continues to launch unsubstantiated allegations about widespread voter fraud.

McConnell, like many other Senate Republicans, neither repeated Trump’s false claims that Democrats are trying to “rig” and “steal” the election, nor publicly pressured the president to concede. Their reluctance to recognize Biden’s victory two days after he secured enough Electoral College votes highlights the grip that Trump still holds on the GOP, even as he will likely soon be leaving the White House. For now, they’re sticking with the president”

“Trump has continued to assert that there were widespread irregularities in several states but has so far provided no evidence. He falsely claimed on Twitter that he won the election, even as Biden on Saturday secured the necessary 270 electoral votes to win the White House, according to numerous media projections. The president has even suggested the election was “stolen” from him, but his campaign has lost several court fights already.”

“Senate Republicans said they expect the disputes to be resolved sooner rather than later. One GOP senator, speaking on condition of anonymity to candidly describe the party’s thinking, said “most people recognize where this is headed and that clearly Biden is leading in enough states to win, but let’s not rush the process.”

So far, only four Republican senators — Mitt Romney of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Susan Collins of Maine — have acknowledged Biden’s victory and referred to him as the president-elect.

But like McConnell, most Senate Republicans have refused to publicly acknowledge that Biden will become the next president, even though they admit that’s going to happen in private. While Biden is already aggressively planning his transition to power, GOP senators are deferring to the Trump campaign’s pending legal challenges to the election results in various battleground states.”

“Even as Biden’s team is preparing for the transfer of power, a top political appointee in the Trump administration is thus far refusing to officially certify Biden as the president-elect. Such a declaration is necessary in order to kick-start the presidential transition process; specifically, it would unlock resources for Biden’s team, including federal funding and access to the federal agencies that will need staffing.

Republicans largely declined to weigh in on whether the appointee, General Services Administration chief Emily Murphy, should certify Biden as the winner, though Collins went as far as to say that Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris “should be given every opportunity to ensure that they are ready to govern” when they take office on Jan. 20.”

The Supreme Court is about to hit an undemocratic milestone

“The confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, back in 1991, was a squeaker: 52 yeas, 48 nays — the narrowest margin in over a century.

The senators who voted to put him on the bench had won their most recent elections with a combined tally of 42 million votes. But the senators who voted “nay” were elected by 46 million. Thomas became the first Supreme Court justice to be confirmed by a bloc of senators who had been elected by a minority of voters.

Then it happened again. And again and again. The senators who confirmed Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh received millions fewer votes than the senators who opposed their confirmations.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s replacement seems certain to join the ranks of these “minority justices.” Even if President Trump’s nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, wins the support of every Republican senator, including moderate hold-outs like Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, all those senators combined received 13 million fewer votes than their colleagues across the aisle.

With this new confirmation, the Supreme Court will enter a particularly undemocratic new era. For the first time since senators were directly elected, a controlling majority of the court will have been put there by senators who most voters didn’t choose. (And of course, the last three will have been nominated by a president who lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes.)”

The Senate’s Rural Skew Makes It Very Hard For Democrats To Win The Supreme Court

“the Senate is an enormous problem for Democrats given the current political coalitions, in which Democrats are dominant in cities while Republicans triumph in rural areas. And because the Senate is responsible for confirming Supreme Court picks, that means the Supreme Court is a huge problem for Democrats too. Sure, Democrats might win back the Senate this year — indeed, they were slight favorites to do so before the Ginsburg news. But in the long run, they’re likely to lose it more often than not.”

“the overall U.S. population (including Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico) is split almost exactly evenly between these buckets: 25 percent rural, 23 percent exurban/small town, 27 percent suburban/small city, and 25 percent urban core/large city.”

“Because there are a lot of largely rural, low-population states, the average state — which reflects the composition of the Senate — has 35 percent of its population in rural areas and only 14 percent in urban core areas, even though the country as a whole — including dense, high-population states like New York, Texas and California — has about 25 percent of the population in each group. That’s a pretty serious skew. It means that the Senate, de facto, has two or three times as much rural representation as urban core representation … even though there are actually about an equal number of voters in each bucket nationwide.”

“Since rural areas tend to be whiter, it means the Senate represents a whiter population, too.”

“In a strong national environment for Democrats, in other words, the Senate can be competitive. Generally speaking, at least. A Democratic-leaning environment wasn’t enough to overcome the Senate’s baseline GOP-lean and a bad map in 2018. Democrats lost seats. And in an average year — and certainly in a year like 2014 where Republicans have the advantage — Democrats face dire prospects in the Senate.”

“despite their current 47-53 deficit in the Senate, Democratic senators actually represent slightly more people than Republicans.”

“the Senate is effectively 6 to 7 percentage points redder than the country as a whole, which means that Democrats are likely to win it only in the event of a near-landslide in their favor nationally. That’s likely to make the Republican majority on the Supreme Court pretty durable.”

What Happened In Portland Shows Just How Fragile Our Democracy Is

“In the video, Juniper Simonis screams as they are pushed to the ground, struggling, by a group of men in military fatigues who wield large, black weapons. While Simonis is handcuffed and their service dog barks, the men surround them, a wall of camo, blocking the videographer from capturing the full extent of what’s happening. Simonis wears shorts and a tank top, but the men appear dressed for war. The officers’ uniforms bear a large patch that says “police,” but they aren’t police. They’re federal agents, but with no name tags or badges, they are, in the moment of Simonis’s arrest, impossible to identify.

Simonis is an American scientist — a computational ecologist who does data analysis for researchers and the government. Last month, Simonis was detained outside a federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon, by mysterious men now known to be agents of the Department of Homeland Security, a federal agency created to fight terrorism. By Simonis’s own estimation, the scientist spent around eight hours in the agents’ custody. For the first 45 minutes or so, they said, they were held in a parking garage without having been read their rights. Simonis was then transferred to a U.S. Marshals’ lockup. Their request to call a lawyer or a friend was refused. Eventually, Simonis was given a citation for vandalism related to chalking the sidewalk in front of the courthouse, and sent out the door in the middle of the night with no way home.”

“According to a recent report by the Democracy Fund’s Voter Study Group, support for democracy is in no way universal. In fact, their findings show that 1 in 3 Americans have, at some point in the last three years, supported some kind of authoritarian view, and only about 80 percent said it was very important to live in a democracy.”

The American right’s favorite strongman

“After winning Hungary’s 2010 election, the prime minister systematically dismantled the country’s democracy — undermining the basic fairness of elections, packing the courts with cronies, and taking control of more than 90 percent of the country’s media outlets. He has openly described his form of government as “illiberal democracy,” half of which is accurate.

Since the coronavirus, Orbán’s authoritarian tendencies have only grown more pronounced. His allies in parliament passed a new law giving him the power to rule by decree and creating a new crime, “spreading a falsehood,” punishable by up to five years in prison. The Hungarian government recently seized public funding that opposing political parties depend on; through an ally, they took financial control of one of the few remaining anti-Orbán media outlets. In May, the pro-democracy group Freedom House officially announced that it no longer considered Hungary a democracy.”

“Religious conservatives find Orbán’s social policies to be a breath of fresh air. Orbán has given significant state support to Hungary’s churches, officially labeling his government a “Christian democracy.” He provided generous subsidies to families in an effort to get Hungarian women to stay at home and have more babies. He launched a legal assault on progressive social ideals, prohibiting the teaching of gender studies in Hungarian universities and banning transgender people from legally identifying as anything other than their biological sex at birth.

Conservative nationalists focus on the Hungarian approach to immigration and the European Union. During the 2015 migrant crisis, Orbán was the most prominent opponent of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open borders approach; he built a wall on Hungary’s southern border with Serbia to keep refugees from entering. He has repeatedly denounced the influence the EU has on its member states, describing one of his governing aims as preserving Hungary’s national character in the face of a globalist onslaught led by Brussels and philanthropist George Soros.

For Western conservatives of a religious and/or nationalist bent, Orbán is the leader they wish Donald Trump could be — smart, politically savvy, and genuinely devoted to their ideals. Hungary is, for them, the equivalent of what Nordic countries are for the American left: proof of concept that their ideas could make the United States a better place.

Yet while the Nordic countries are among the world’s freest democracies, Hungary has fallen into a form of autocracy.”

“Orbán and much of his inner circle are lawyers by training; they have used this expertise to set up a political system that looks very much like a democracy, with elections and a theoretically free press, but isn’t one. This gives intellectually sympathetic Westerners some room for self-delusion. They can examine Hungary, a country whose cultural politics they admire, and see a place that looks on the surface like a functioning democracy.”

“If these thinkers continue to insist that Hungary is just another democracy — despite copious evidence to the contrary — how can we expect them to call out the same, more embryonic process of authoritarianism happening at home? If American conservatives won’t turn on a foreign country’s leadership after it crosses the line, what reason would we have to believe that they’d be capable of doing the same thing when the stakes for them are higher and the enemies more deeply hated?”

The Fall of the Roman Republic and the Fall of the American Republic: Sources

Donald Trump On Paying Supporter’s Legal Fees Meet The Press. 3 14 2016. NBC News. A look back at Trump comments perceived by some as inciting violence Libby Cathey and Meghan Keneally. 5 30 2020. ABC News. https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/back-trump-comments-perceived-encouraging-violence/story?id=48415766 Presidents Have Declared Dozens