The New York Times released an article today which outlines some of the connections and circumstances which formed the post-election strategy of the Trump campaign, and led to the January 6th coup attempt.
This is a dense article, with a lot of information in it. I am not going to summarize it all here (please give the article a read), but will be talking about some of the takeaways and lessons we can extract from this information.
Early legal strategy, for the first 12 days, was centered on trying to challenge votes. After the AZ election was called by 10,000, nullifying their challenge of 191 votes, Trump appointed Rudy to run legal strategy. This was the pivot point into the open embrace of conspiracy theories.
From the days before the election even occurred the Republican Party had gone all in on the election fraud narrative. When this shift in narrative happened is caused some serious issues for moderate Republicans.
The roots of the election fraud conspiracy theory emerged from two sites. The first was the Trump campaign itself, who began to frame out the structure of the election fraud narrative months before the election happened. The second site was "War Room", Steve Bannon's podcast, which picked up the conspiracy around election fraud (centered on fictional systems HAMMER and SCORECARD, which in this universe are run by the "deep state", to work with Dominion Voting Systems to overthrow Trump).
The HAMMER and SCORECARD conspiracy theories began life on from an obscure conspiracy theory site, the American Report, who had been pushing 2016 election conspiracies with exactly the same features for years prior to this.
Bannon then had Powell and Thomas McInerney, a former Air Force Lieutenant General who is a known conspiracy theorist and close associate of Michael Flynn. From Banon's show, it got picked by by Paul Gosar, a right wing Republican House rep from Arizona.
After the Trump team decided to abandon the challenging of individual votes, and started to move into overt conspiracy theory, this conspiracy theory was adopted as the official line on the election. The conspiracy was then propelled forward by NewsMax, OAN, Bannon and Hannity, which mainstreamed it with Republican voters.
By the time that the Electoral College votes were officially certified, a number of early boosters of the conspiracy theory began to shift tactics, and began talking about moving on; this included Bannon and McConnell.
The problem was that the Trump campaign not only continued with the ruse, they began to shift into increasingly conspiratorial explanations in an attempt to cover for obvious holes in their narrative.
This motivated the MAGA base, and resulted in a split in republican strategy. By the time certain Republicans started to try to pull back from the attempt to overturn the election, it was too late and a split in the conservative movement began to solidify as a result.
The Trump campaign started to focus, at this time, on reventing the counting of the electoral votes on January 6th, but to do so they had to keep the conspiracy theory alive to justify the attempt to overturn the results.
This also where the whole declaration of martial law idea emerged, to prevent the vote count and force the appointment of pro-Trump electors. The primary resistance to this idea came from Pat Cipollone, White House counsel, and from the Justice Department, specifically from William Barr.
It is particularly notable that Barr, a long time advocate of the concept of the Unitary Executive, would contest a move meant to solidify Presidential power.
this is also the period in which Trump tried to extort the Attorney General of Georgia to "find votes", and in which Trump conspired with Jeffery Clarke, acting director of the Civil Division of the DOJ, to force Jeffery Rosen, who took over after Barr resigned, to resign, appoint Clarke in his place, and use that power to declare that voter fraud happened and that the election was invalid.
The Georgia plan collapsed when audio of the call got leaked to the press Following the release of the audio a split began to form, with the MAGA die hards refusing to acknowledge reality, and encouraging a vote boycott, and Republicans that tried to create distance while attempting to convince people to vote, even though they had said that elections were rigged.
The Clarke plot fell apart when Rosen threatened mass resignations if he were forced out.
All of this points to a huge problem for the Republican Party, one which was pointed to in the Politico article I send out earlier. The Republicans have spent the past 30 years openly fostering conspiracy theories, convincing their base of the existence of hidden internal enemies, telling them that everyone they disagree with is a Communist that is secretly involved in a plot to overthrow America. There have been a number of impacts from this.
1) The Republican Party and conservative movement is increasingly reliant on a captive media audience. When people leave the right wing media sphere, as some are doing now, they are realizing that they had been deceived, and the impacts have been obvious and profound.
To maintain the ruse, adherents need to be confined to an echo chamber. That media sphere is fragmenting right now, though, with different factions gathering around different media outlets.
2) This reliance on the echo chamber is pushing those outside of this space further and further away from the conservative movement. As an electoral minority conservatives need to rely on getting some unaffiliated voters to vote for their slates of candidates. As the right wing echo chamber becomes more and more isolated, the ability of conservatives to even speak the same political language as others is diminishing.
3) The open embrace of conspiracy theories by Republicans has created conditions in which the fringe right wing has taken control of the Republican Party, and the moderates are haviong a problem pushing this back. If they do not push this back they will end up becoming a marginal political force, increasingly every year. If they do push this back they risk forcing the splitting off of a third party or a strong faction within the Republican Party which operates more or less autonomously.
4) This has forced the coalescing of a bipartisan centrist coalition that is attempting to "return to normal", which is a world circa 2010. For Democrats this is an attempt to maintain the power of the centrists, even if their support is collapsing within the party itself, while, for Republicans, this is an attempt to try to balance on this tight rope, not disavowing the fringe, but not embracing them either.
It is from this Center that new counter-terrorism laws are emerging.
5) This all points to the Trump campaign strategy around invalidating the election leading to a realignment of political dynamics in the US.
The conservative movement is fragmenting along lines of fissure oriented around acceptance or rejection of the narrative. The Center is consolidating and moving to eliminate the "extremists", or those outside of the Center.
This consolidation could fragment conservatives, but could also result in a new form of repression initiated by the Center.
With this all being the case, this period of realignment has allowed us to get a glimpse into the internal structure of how MAGA world, and the wider far right, functions.
The routes through which this narrative spread, the players involved and their connections to one another, allow us to trace the background connections that bind MAGA world, the far right, conservative media commentators, elements of the Republican Party and a network of wealthy right wing political donors together.
It is critical, in moments like these, to not just apply the label of fascist to all of these people and leave it at that. It is not sufficient to just focus on individuals. The fringe right wing has become indisposable for the Republican Party. This has been the case for some time, but the embrace, conducted for cynical reasons, has become overt and obvious, with members of Congress being from these circles directly (Gaetz, Boebert, Taylor-Greene).
In times like this, when the extreme right has official support from a mainstream political party, and in which their politics have been allowed to get oxygen within that arrangement, it is critical for us to turn our attention to how these networks function, where their weak points are, and how to strategically exploit these in order to cause the maximum disruptive effect organizationally.
We have to get stealthy, we have to get smart and we have to do our research. It is only from this deeper understanding of their day to day functionality, that we can even hope to be able to cause this blooming coalition to collapse. The fault lines are there, the right wing is fighting with itself internally, and there is factional conflict.
"77 democracy-bending days..."? "entropic forces coming together on Trump’s behalf in an ad hoc, yet calamitous, crash of rage and denial..."? Christ, this reads like a soap-opera script.
I think this part here...
"Across those 77 days, the forces of disorder were summoned and directed by the departing president, who wielded the power derived from his near-infallible status among the party faithful in one final norm-defying act of a reality-denying presidency."
...would look really cool scrolling dramatically into distant space with that creepy Darth Vader music playing over it.
Hyperbolic and melodramatic tone aside, the information contained within is completely worth toughing it out
Oh, yeah; it's chock full of meaty, beefy goodness, but the prose style, though... maa-an, that's some serious rag chewing. At least I haven't seen the phrase "existential threat" yet, though I could probably play a drinking game with the phrase "peaceful transfer of power".
This is, indeed, the New Golden Age Of Making Shit Up.
"Dave... stop, Dave... my mind is going... I can feel it..."
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