Republican-controlled state legislatures are already institutionalizing election sabotage — with GOP election officials determining election results no matter the vote winner. More than a dozen “election deniers” like Jim Marchant, who just won the Republican primary for secretary of state in Nevada, are GOP nominees for secretary of state and other election-controlling positions.
So even though Trump won’t hold the levers of presidential power in 2024 the way he did in 2020, he won’t need to: His allies and his disinformation are putting officials in place around the country who will certify his win whatever the vote.
The use of the military for domestic control
Trump’s administration deployed military helicopters in an unprecedented show of military force over peaceful demonstrators whom police attacked in Washington’s Lafayette Park in July 2020. Retired military leaders excoriated the abuse.
In early December 2020, Trump’s close ally, his former national security adviser and retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, reportedly urged Trump to declare martial law.
On Nov. 9, 2020, Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper and installed a more compliant Christopher Miller. On Jan. 4, 2021, Miller issued a memo requiring his approval to deploy the National Guard in Washington, D.C. On Jan. 6, Defense Department leadership delayed the National Guard’s response to the Capitol siege by three hours.
You don’t have to be a clairvoyant to imagine how military force against political foes — and restraint of force to protect violent supporters — will be used if Trump regains office.
The end of accountability
On June 17, in Nashville, Trump said that if reelected, he would consider “very, very seriously” pardoning all the participants in the Jan. 6 insurrection.
That could clear more than 310 insurrectionists who have pleaded guilty or been convicted at trial. Deterrence of future violence depends on judicially imposed sanctions. Trump would remove them, signaling that violent extremism in defense of Trump is no vice.
If he returns to the White House, he will install his people in the Justice Department and turn the machinery of prosecution against his enemies and toward protecting his friends and his schemes.
And should Trump get an encore, look to pre-World War II Germany for a mirror. A failed coup in 1923 taught Hitler a better route to dictatorship nine years later.
Those who repeat history are doomed to learn it. The hard way.©2022 Los Angeles Times. Visit at latimes.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.