Not too terribly long ago, there was a leader of a country who was about to be voted out of office.
Democratic countries around the world were celebrating this fact. But inside the presidential estate, there was planning under way to usurp the will of the people and instead use force to maintain control and keep that leader in power.
The plan was an intricate one, laid out in full detail by the leader’s closest advisors and disclosed to his political allies. It would use the unique governmental system of the country in order to reach a critical point in which the leader could call on the country’s military to assist him in remaining in power.
The plan was clear. It was detailed. It could work.
But there was a problem – some of the political allies of the leader were balking. They were unsure about upending the basic tenets of the country’s government. They were afraid.
So, instead, the leader turned to propaganda and lies – telling his supporters that he was the true leader of the country and that their true leader was being stolen away from them. He stoked a mob. He talked of civil war. He asked for loyalty.
You’re probably thinking that most of this sounds familiar, like the coup stories of Qaddafi, Amin or Francisco Franco. And, well, yeah.
But also Donald John Trump.
That’s right. America had a real life coup attempt just three years ago. You can pretend it didn’t happen. You can try to rewrite the definition of a coup. You can attempt to downplay what occurred – call those lunatics running wild through our Capitol “a tourist visit” – and scoff when anyone declares it an embarrassing and potentially catastrophic moment in U.S. history.
But you’re absolutely wrong.
Put the actions of Trump and his minions in the context of any other country and we wouldn’t bat an eye at calling it a failed coup attempt and insurrection. We’ve defined far lesser actions in other countries as such.
So, while I’m not at all comfortable with a state court booting a major party’s candidate off the ballot, as Colorado’s Supreme Court did to Trump on Tuesday evening, I understand. At some point, we have to draw a line in the sand, and if we don’t do it for Trump and his very real attack on our democratic process, where do we draw it? It’s hard to draw those lines after a successful coup.
There’s absolutely no denying that Trump tried his best to undermine an American election, and that he’s continued to push the thoroughly debunked narrative that it was stolen from him. He’s still pushing it today.
But the plan to undermine that election was more than simple rhetoric. Among the items uncovered during the investigation of Trump and the Jan. 6 insurrection, a PowerPoint presentation was discovered. It belonged to former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows – now a key witness in a number of Trump legal actions.
The PowerPoint laid out in detail the full coup plan, including how the then-president could use various actions to declare a state of emergency and invoke the use of the military to keep himself in office. The plan also utilized gullible Republican politicians who would vote against the certification of the election results and it put fake electors in place of real electors from some key states.
Add it all up and it was far more planning than that of most successful coups. Luckily for us it was being led by complete imbeciles, and a handful of key participants had attacks of conscience and couldn’t go through with their roles. Most notably: Mike Pence, who Trump refused to defend from his rabid supporters who literally wanted to kill him.
But those supporters wanted to kill lots of people. That’s why they erected a literal gallows on the Capitol grounds and were roaming the halls and offices of congress members.
It was an awful day in American history. One made even more awful by Republicans’ continued refusal to denounce the actions of the man behind it all, and even worse, their cowardly fear of him. Thank God today’s Republicans weren’t around in the 1700s. We’d still be paying those taxes to England.
Unfortunately, we have them today. And Alabama’s Republicans are the worst – lining up to defend a traitor to the constitution and give him cover at every turn because it’s politically expedient to do so.
A day before the Colorado decision, which they couldn’t wait to issue comments on, Alabama Republicans, save for one, were quiet as could be about Trump using literal Hitler quotes to discuss the human beings at the U.S.-Mexico border seeking refuge from almost certain death and poverty. The only one who spoke of Trump’s “poisoning the blood” comments was U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville, who said Trump didn’t go far enough.
(It’s so weird to hear such hateful, awful rhetoric directed at refugees by a bunch of people currently celebrating the birth of an anchor baby to a couple of refugees fleeing hardship and asking for kindness. I guess maybe we think of things in a different light if we imagine the people in danger are white, even if they’re most certainly not.)
It’s all so embarrassing and depressing and maddening – watching Republicans, especially those who know better, cower in fear of this phony tough guy and lifelong con man, while they simultaneously sell out the country to do so. At some point, there will be real, longterm consequences for all of this.
Maybe you should be thanking the justices in Colorado for saving you from yourselves for at least one more day.