While the Democrats need to win the Georgia run-off to control the Senate, help may come from the illogical heart of Donald’s voter base.
Maybe it’s not a great idea to hand out practical notes for any future American despots, but if you’re a president who is going to claim that people can’t trust elections because they’re rigged, it’s perhaps best to first establish that your political party doesn’t have any vitally important elections just around the corner.
See, one of the biggest problems with the conspiracy theory that Joe Biden stole the US election from Donald Trump last November is that it requires believing that the Democratic Party were able to carry out one of the largest and most sophisticated election frauds in history, secretly mobilising tens of thousands of people in beautiful synchronicity, but somehow also completely forgetting to ensure those millions of forged ballots also ticked boxes for the party in the House and the Senate, where the actual legislating gets done. Whoopsie!
After all, Biden’s victory aside, the GOP picked up 10 seats in the House which has diminished the effect of the 2018 midterm “blue wave” that gave the Democrats a (now reduced) majority, while the hopes of the Dems also wrenching control of the senate now hinge on a couple of run-offs in Georgia.
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Run-offs are sorta-kinda like by-elections and happen in Georgia if no candidate gets over half of the votes. In that not uncommon instance the two candidates who received the highest tallies get another one-on-one, winner-takes-all sudden-death playoff.
And this would be exciting enough as it stands, because while the Republicans have control of the senate they can do exactly what they’ve done for the last eight years and ensure that no useful legislation passes – which would rather blunt Joe Biden’s ambitious “govern like adults doing important jobs” strategy.
But if the Democrats pick those seats up the senate is deadlocked and the Vice President Kamala Harris has the casting vote. And this was looking like a very long shot a couple of weeks ago, but the Democrats have had an unexpected ally in their endeavours: Donald Trump and his roiling troll armies.
Since losing the election Donnie Donezo has been very, very clear that he actually won the election and that you just can’t trust ballot boxes or the state governments which administer them. This has become gospel in the Trump base, which is something of a problem for Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, the Georgian Republican senators facing the voters on January 5, given that they and their Democratic challengers will be using the exact same ballot boxes administered by the exact same state government which called the election for Biden.
On Parler, the newish social media platform hailed as “Twitter, but for racists” there’s a powerful movement a-brewing calling for voters to write in “Donald J Trump” as their candidate and smearing Loeffler and Perdue as “DemoRats” secretly in league with the conspiracy. And it looks like it’s coming from the GOP base, not least because all the evidence would suggest that Democrat election strategists are nowhere near clever nor creative enough to cook up such a diabolically perfect scheme.
Indeed, Trump-supporting attorney Lin Wood bellowed at a rally on Dec 2 thus: “Do not be fooled twice. This is Georgia, we ain’t dumb. We ain’t gonna go vote on Jan 5 on another machine made by China. You’re not gonna fool Georgians again!”
And that’s hilarious, sure. But arguing that the system is fundamentally rigged and only throws up corrupt results doesn’t exactly make for an inspiring Rock The Vote movement.
Trump stopped golfing for long enough to journey to Georgia last weekend to campaign for…well, himself, obviously, spending much of his time claiming that he’s never lost an election. If that’s meant to help Loeffler and Perdue, it’s hard to see how. And both candidates know better than to say that their president is a raving lunatic claiming demonstrably untrue things about why he lost and lost bigly.
If only some great Gothic novel could provide a cool metaphor about creating a monster and then having it turn on you.
Both have joined Trump’s calls for Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who ratified the election results and is a Republican himself, to resign while Trump has been furious that his calls to the (Republican) governor Brian Kemp to overturn the election and declare Trump the winner – a power he doesn’t remotely have – did not result in immediate ratification of his second term. “The governor has done nothing,” Trump howled during a Fox News interview. “He’s done absolutely nothing. I’m ashamed that I endorsed him.”
So this puts true Trump-supporting senators in a tricky situation, because they need to simultaneously say that elections are rigged and no-one can trust the government from the governor down, and also that every Trump supporter should get out and vote in the coming election to ensure that they are returned to the senate, and also insist that votes are no indication of popularity and the whole thing is a farce. It’s not a strategic pivot so much as a frantic flailing in every direction at once, and it has turned what seemed like two fairly easy Republican wins into a nail-bitingly close battle, going by the current polling.
In any case, could the Republicans ultimately lose the presidency and the senate because of the very conspiracy nutters they’ve been assiduously courting for the past four years?
Democrats can but hope.