Opinion Shocker: Most Republicans oppose plan to avert a 2024 Trump coup


HR King
May 29, 2001
As early as Wednesday, the House will vote on a new bill that would plug holes in the arcane law that Donald Trump exploited in his failed effort to overturn his 2020 loss. GOP leaders are whipping against the bill, meaning Republicans will widely oppose it.

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Let’s not allow the meaning of this to get lost in a fog of euphemisms. If House Republicans get their way, it will make it easier for a future GOP-controlled House to conspire with one or more corrupt GOP governors and other state actors to overturn a 2024 presidential election loss.

House Republicans, of course, offer different reasons for opposing the new bill, which would reform the Electoral Count Act of 1887. But they don’t withstand scrutiny. And House GOP opposition to this reform matters. It’s another marker of how radicalized and tightly aligned with Trump a GOP House would be.


Beyond the House, GOP opposition matters for another critical reason: It could end up rendering reform weaker, even if it does pass into law.

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The House bill would clarify that the vice president’s role in counting presidential electors is purely ceremonial. It would make it harder for Congress to throw out legitimate electors and protect against corruption of certification of electors at the state level. All those would address ECA flaws that Trump attempted to seize on to invalidate President Biden’s electors.
House Republicans offer a range of motives for their opposition. The most absurd is from Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), who told Politico the bill is “a political weapon to beat up on Donald Trump and not about preventing a Jan. 6 from ever happening again.”

That will be a widespread argument, so let’s take it on. If these reforms are anti-Trump, it’s only in that they target ECA flaws that Trump actually did try to exploit. And those flaws did help spark the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol by letting Trump raise expectations that the outcome might be reversible. Indeed, Trump incited the crowd expressly to complete his scheme of exploiting those holes in the ECA.

So preventing another Jan. 6 must entail a response to what Trump did. Banks can’t admit this: GOP orthodoxy requires treating Trump as mostly or entirely blameless for the violence. Which gets at the real reason most Republicans oppose reform: Supporting it acknowledges what happened.
House GOP leaders are also circulating a memo explaining why Republicans should oppose reform. It insists the bill constitutes a “federal takeover of elections”; allows “Democrat election lawyers” new opportunities to “abuse” the process with lawsuits; and allows Congress and courts to encroach on states’ oversight of elections.

All this is wildly hyperbolic. In one important way, the bill reduces Congress’s control over states by making it harder for members to throw out electors certified by them.
Beyond that, these objections appear targeted at an important but poorly understood element of reform. It’s complicated, which is why Republicans are trying to demagogue it.

The bill requires governors to certify electors in keeping with state laws as they existed before election day to prevent post-election certification of fake electors in defiance of the popular vote. If a governor violates this duty, a federal judicial panel would designate the legitimate slate of electors and require Congress to count them.

This is about guarding against a dire threat: If a corrupt governor certifies fake electors, and a GOP House counts them, under an unreformed ECA they would probably stand, creating chaos or worse. Under the House reform, if a governor refuses to certify the correct electors, the court selects another state official to certify them.
This is meant to ensure that the process unfolds according to the state’s own laws. State legislatures have carried out their constitutional role in determining how electors are appointed by passing laws requiring appointment in keeping with the popular vote. ECA reform safeguards against abuses of those laws by political actors caught up in passions of the moment. That’s why the Cato Institute’s Andy Craig describes these reforms as “conservative.”

Meanwhile, in the Senate, the necessary 10 Republicans appear supportive of another version of ECA reform advancing there. That’s a good bill, but not as good as the House version. And Senate Republicans appear opposed to the House bill — for reasons similar to those offered by House Republicans.

So the end result of all this GOP positioning may be something like the Senate bill. Which is to say, weaker reform.
Right now, many Trump-backed candidates are seeking control over election machinery at the state level, including gubernatorial candidates in swing states. That makes it more likely that state-level corruption of the certification process will be attempted next time. Without ECA reform, a GOP House would likely play along, perhaps eagerly.
In that context, the House Republicans’ treatment of this debate is ominous. If their guiding imperative is the refusal to admit to anything seriously untoward about Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, then obviously it’s a small leap to participating in a rerun of that scheme.
Only this time they’ll likely be in the majority and have a better shot. That is, unless ECA reform passes.



HR All-American
Nov 25, 2002
Pensacola, FL
It's crazy how much Republicans have openly embraced everything they always accused Democrats of doing. The Democrats never did them, or if they did it was in such small levels that it didn't really have impact over anything but local elections; but that never stopped them from doing so.

In fact I think it was an intended act of treason by those voices over the years. The goal was to groom Republican voters to believing that Democrats did all those things so that when they could eventually do them and not lose support, because if the Democrats are doing it; we might as well too.

I don't know how you're supposed to fight against a party who has convinced all of it's voters that the rules don't matter any longer without violating the rules yourself; and I don't want to support a party who does so. I still believe in the idea of Democracy.
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