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Trump’s call to set aside the Constitution raises a question: why now?

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From the first moments after the polls closed on November 3, 2020, Donald Trump worked to overturn the voters’ decision.

This effort has had its ups and downs. Immediately after the election, it was pretty quiet, centered on normal and frivolous legal responses. Soon after, however, it became dangerous, as Trump first tried to encourage his allies to simply put aside his loss, then, as he drew people to Washington to oppose when Joe Biden’s victory has been made official. Then it ebbed again, as the former president, stripped of his biggest social media platforms, was forced to plead his case to right-wing friendly media outlets and then on the social media platform he created.

From January 2021 until recently, Trump’s rhetoric has risen and fallen largely out of public view, as he embraced outlandish theories (like those of MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell) or debunked nonsense (like the movie “2000 mules”) as means of advocating for his own reinstatement.

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This weekend, however, he went further than he has since leaving office.

“Massive fraud of this type and magnitude,” he wrote on Truth Social, “enables the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution. Our great “founders” did not want and would not tolerate false and fraudulent elections! »

It is obviously ridiculous to suggest that the Founding Fathers would advocate “terminating” the Constitution, given that they wrote the Constitution. It’s more ridiculous, however, to suggest that Trump’s 2020 loss was so tainted with fraud that there’s no satisfactory answer short of throwing out the American system and installing him again as leader. In fact, there is no evidence of any significant fraud or “DECEPTION” (as he also claimed in his post).

So why is Trump making this extraordinary and extraordinarily undemocratic claim now? Three reasons. First, that his supporters rallied on new details about the limits of an anti-Biden story in 2020. Second, the midterm elections reinvigorated his claims about voter fraud. And, third, his path back to the Republican nomination — let alone the White House — is less certain now than at any time since he left office.

The History of the Hunter Biden Laptop. The immediate trigger for Trump’s complaint was the Friday posting of internal documents to Twitter showing how the company discussed its decision to limit sharing of an October 2020 New York Post article on a laptop belonging to the son. by Joe Biden. The documents shared by Twitter owner Elon Musk with a sympathetic reporter didn’t include much new information and didn’t significantly change the understanding of how and why the company made the decision. (They certainly didn’t neutralize the larger context that demanded caution about the story in the first place.) Instead, the release of the emails created a new nexus of attention for baseless claims according to which limiting the story hindered Trump’s victory.

It’s worth noting up front that there’s no reason to think the election results would have been any different if the story hadn’t been limited by Twitter. First, the limitation itself created a Streisand effect in which new attention was given to the New York Post report because limits of Twitter. Second, many of the claims that the election would have been won by Trump had the suppression not taken place are based on questionable polling by the right-wing group Media Research Center.

For Trump, of course, none of this matters. He accepted all claims that the election would be tainted for the simple reason that his interest is in undermining the election, not in precisely articulating what happened. The loud and forceful conversation currently underway about Twitter behavior is mostly about raising a narrative about how right-wing views are allegedly being censored by bad left-wing actors. But the crux of the argument is that something suspicious happened in 2020, so Trump is advancing his pieces on the board.

The Arizona gubernatorial race. The midterm elections largely succeeded in avoiding the kind of electoral denial Trump has embraced since his 2020 defeat. One exception is in Arizona, where the losing Republican gubernatorial candidate – former local news anchor Kari Lake – tried to claim his loss was due to fraud or underhanded activity. Like Trump, Lake had no political experience before running for office, meaning she had no experience of the process or had to graciously admit her loss. Unlike Trump, she had an existing pool of electoral skeptics she could appeal to.

Trump thoughtlessly elevated Lake’s baseless claims about his own loss, appropriating them for his own purposes. If something sketchy happened in Arizona, after all, it suggests other sketchy things could have happened elsewhere — and potentially provides another small puncture in the dam containing Biden’s 2020 victory. Trump likes that Lake takes issue with his loss less because he supports Lake (even though he does) and more because it gives him a way to speak more broadly about how he was robbed.

The status of the 2024 nomination. As of this writing, Trump is the only declared candidate for the GOP nomination in 2024. His announcement last month was intended to help freeze the ground, position him as the guy to beat — as the guy who doesn’t. not worth challenging in the first place.

But it came a week after the Republican Party performed unexpectedly badly in the midterm elections, an outcome for which it was widely blamed, and it came in a speech that was widely ridiculed as nonchalant and uninspired. Instead of freezing the field, Trump provided a point of contrast for many Republicans who were ready to say the time had come to move on to someone else. Trump still does well in the primary polls (very, very early), but candidates like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) are building solid foundations of support for anyone but Trump.

In other words, the 2024 nomination is not what Trump had hoped for. His return to the presidency is less direct than it was six months ago, with Republicans beginning to suggest (albeit quietly) that a page be turned.

Hence Trump’s new – obviously futile – call to simply be reinstated. This is a time when there is a lot of right-wing fury against perceived left-wing elites, energy that could perhaps be redirected to its own advantage. And this is a time when Trump might reasonably feel that relying on the will of voters isn’t his surest path to power.

So why not just reject the voice of voters entirely? How could the Founding Fathers oppose it?



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