Home > Uncategorized > A roadmap for subverting democracy – posted 10/17/2021

A roadmap for subverting democracy – posted 10/17/2021

As a Jewish person, I am probably more paranoid than the average person about the threat of the advance of fascism and authoritarianism in America. My antenna are usually up. Still, I did not expect to see a “legal” roadmap to outline how to make it happen here.

The conservative law professor, John Eastman, part of the stable of Trump lawyers, laid it out on a silver platter. His plan, coordinated with Donald Trump, was to maintain our former President in the White House against the will of the voters.

Eastman wrote a memo, titled January 6 scenario, about how to legitimate a coup through six easy steps. Bob Woodward and Robert Costa surfaced the memo in their new book, Peril. The document was subsequently obtained by CNN.

Eastman’s memo proposed that on January 6, when certifying the vote tally, Vice-President Mike Pence should refuse to count votes in seven battleground states where fringe groups put forward an alternative slate of electors. Even though Trump lost those seven states, Eastman argued that Pence had the authority to reject electors from those states.

Eastman wrote that when Pence got to counting Arizona, he could announce that he had multiple slates of electors and he was deferring decision until he finished counting the other states. Eastman wanted Pence to do that in those seven states Biden won.

At the end, Pence would announce that pursuant to the 12th amendment, he would count the electors only in 43 states. Counting these states, Trump would have 232 votes and Biden would have 222, resulting in a Trump victory.

Since Eastman knew Democrats would howl and would say 270 electoral votes are required for election, he had a back-up plan. Under the 12th amendment, since no candidate hit 270, the matter would go to the House of Representatives with each state getting one vote. Republicans currently control 26 of the state delegations and Democrats control 24. This would also result in a Trump victory.

In his memo, Eastman wrote that Vice-President Pence was the ultimate arbiter of electors. In effect, he (Pence), rather than the voters, could determine who won the election. Eastman did not want Pence to ask Congress or the Supreme Court whether he could take these actions. He believed a stalemate could work to Republican advantage and would allow state legislatures to weigh in and support alternate electors.

Eastman is not an unconnected lawyer. He had clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas. Trump had seen him on FOX, arguing a very expansive view of presidential power and Trump liked what he heard. Eastman has professional credentials. He had been a law school dean and he was a leader in the Federalist Society.

He was well-known both for anti-LGBTQ views and for penning an article in Newsweek suggesting that Kamala Harris could not legally become Vice-President because both her parents were not born in the United States. Eastman believes Trump could use his executive authority to impose limits on birthright citizenship, the concept that anyone born in the U.S. is automatically a citizen.

Before the mob marched on the Capitol on January 6, Eastman appeared onstage next to Rudy Giuliani. At the rally, Eastman said “We know there was fraud” and “dead people voted” in the 2020 presidential election. He said voting machines contained a “secret folder of ballots”, challenging “the very essence of our republican from of government”. He told the crowd of angry Trump supporters that the election had been stolen.

Eastman asked Pence to delay the Electoral College certification vote to let state legislatures look further into the election.

Trump tried hard to persuade Pence to carry out Eastman’s scheme. He had told Pence:

“You can either go down in history as a patriot or you can go down in history as a pussy.”

Pence was conflicted. He famously called former Vice-President Dan Quayle, a fellow Hoosier, to seek advice. Quayle nixed the idea that Pence could exclude electoral votes.

The New Republic’s Matt Ford described Eastman’s memo as not simply unconstitutional but anti-constitutional. It is preposterous to believe that the Founders intended for vice-presidents to be able to overturn presidential elections, especially on false grounds. The American people overwhelmingly elected Joe Biden by over seven million votes in a free and fair election. Trump’s Big Lie of election fraud has been conclusively refuted by over 60 courts.

The Republican game plan moving forward appears to be voter suppression, installing Trump partisans in electoral positions in battleground states, threatening non-partisan election workers out of their jobs, more gerrymandering and continuous repeating of the Big Lie. They want to make it possible for only one political party to exercise political control. Eastman’s scheme fits into that agenda.

Many have said the January 6 insurrection was a dress rehearsal but I think Eastman’s memo points to something even more dangerous. He is promoting a supposedly legal means to subvert democracy. There is no need for a violent coup when you can make it look legal.

We were saved in 2020 because Republicans did not have control of Congress. Does anyone doubt that if they had the majority, the Republicans would not have gone along with Eastman’s scheme? This is a party defined by dishonesty and lust for power.

The 2024 election looms and Eastman’s memo points to how a coup could be successfully conducted even if Republicans lost another election. The Trump forces just need to place more loyalists in key electoral positions. If ruling Republican legislatures do not like how people in their state voted, they could invalidate those votes. While doing this, they will keep talking about voter fraud and election integrity.

The baseless claims of voter fraud have a very detrimental effect on democracy. They make more people lose faith in democratic elections, laying the foundation for autocracy.

It is hard not to think about the German example of how that nation transitioned to fascism. After an unsuccessful coup (the beer hall putsch), Adolf Hitler decided on a legal path to gaining power. Using the stab-in-the-back myth and the death of Horst Wessel, a fascist martyr, Hitler manipulated the masses. By 1932, the Nazis had become the largest political party. The conservative elite supported Hitler’s rise to power, wrongly thinking they could control him.

The events of January 6 are the equivalent of the beer hall putsch and Ashli Babbitt is our Horst Wessel. Our authoritarians intend to control the voting process so that one party has a huge edge. Just as happened with the conservative elite in Germany, the Republican Party establishment shamefully goes along with the anti-democratic agenda as they see Trump as necessary for their return to power.

A bi-partisan group of former judges, lawyers and officials called the States United Democracy Center has filed a complaint with the California Bar Association asking for an investigation of Eastman. When lawyers violate their ethical obligations by making false claims of election fraud, they have engaged in professional misconduct and should be subject to disciplinary proceedings.

Eastman’s argument that this is about his free speech rights rings hollow. What this is about is the undermining of free and fair elections and dismantling the underpinnings of constitutional government.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Pat Dawson
    October 18, 2021 at 4:09 am

    You are not alone in being concerned. Thanks for writing the piece.

  2. Het Jowsey
    October 21, 2021 at 7:15 pm

    The Republican Party, under Trump, has gone in a fascist direction. This is aided by the spinelessness of the Democratic Party, which fears the upsurge of workers more than it fears the fascists. (shades of 1932-1933!) The public revelations that Trump/Steven Miller planned to mobilize 250,000 troops on the US-Mexican border has been little reported in the press: https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2021/10/21/pers-o21.html

    • October 22, 2021 at 12:45 am

      Thanks Het for the book. I will check it out. I think the Democrats are clueless about the threat of fascism and just assume normalcy will continue. I don’t see it as so much fear of a workers’ upsurge. I think it is more cluelessness. They cannot seem to register that things are not the same. I appreciate you sending on the article. I had not seen that.

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