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Those protesting loudest about a stolen election are working to steal the next election

The kinds of changes in voting laws and procedures in Trumpian-Republican-controlled states will, if they become law, make it easier to steal the next election.

A "Stop the Steal" flag flying outside a January 4 campaign rally with President Donald Trump and U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler in Dalton, Georgia.
A "Stop the Steal" flag flying outside a January 4 campaign rally with President Donald Trump and U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler in Dalton, Georgia.
REUTERS/Brian Snyder

The American socialist magazine Jacobin let fly last week with a scathing overview of many of the ways the American right in general and the Trump movement in particular are rigging the voting systems in many, many states so that liberals and Democrats can’t win presidential elections even when they get the most votes.

Of course, many of these flawed quasi-procedures have been around for a long time. Everyone knows by now that it’s possible to win a presidential election without winning the popular vote. It happened in two of the past six presidential elections (George W. Bush over Al Gore in 2000 and Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in 2016).

And, as you know, a large majority of Republicans tell pollsters they believe the 2020 election was likewise stolen from popular-vote loser Trump, although they are having a harder and harder time trying to show exactly how that one was stolen. (It wasn’t even particularly close, in either the popular or electoral vote, by historical standards.)

Failed lawsuits and other evidence continues to show they are wrong, but the poll numbers don’t change much to reflect that fact. We simply have to acknowledge that the majority of Trump voters say their guy was robbed and, although we can’t know precisely how many, many of them believe it.

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The recent Jacobin piece is subscriber only, but you can also access it via Reader Supported News. It goes over the familiar landscape of Trumplandia denialism about the election and the many legal challenges that have failed to make the case that Democrats stole the election for Biden. Try to read it one place or the other for its thoroughness, although you know by now the main point: Whether they are lying to the pollsters or to themselves, Trumplandians say Trump was the real winner.

The case is beyond weak, but delusional. Even a few brave, honest Republican secretaries of state and other election officials in the contested states weren’t willing to go along with the lie. But, as you also know, and as the piece makes clear, the plan to steal the next one is already in action:

Of all the Right’s attempts to undermine democracy, three are the most blatant: making it harder for likely Democrats to vote; gerrymandering; and stuffing formerly dull, bureaucratic election boards with Trump cronies willing to bend the results.

I won’t summarize their arguments any more, nor are they surprising at this point since we’ve heard them for more than a year. But the kinds of changes in voting laws and procedures in Trumpian-Republican-controlled states will, if they become law, make it easier to steal the next election.

I don’t claim to know which of the people spreading this nonsense actually know it’s bull, and which believe what they are saying. I also don’t claim to know what the odds are that they will succeed, but the odds are not prohibitive. Most of the blame goes to those trying to rig the next election, but plenty is left over for those who don’t take them seriously enough.