Heather Cox Richardson in her December 10, 2020 edition of Letters from An American asks, with respect to the insane Texas law suit, “What on earth is going on?” Read on for the answer.
First: Trump is throwing at the wall anything he can in hopes of staying in office. The more chaos it creates, the happier he is. The lawsuit crisis has, for example, muted the story that at least 2,923 Americans died today of Covid–19, and 223,570 cases were reported, a 28% increase in the weekly average of cases since two weeks ago.
It has also diverted attention from the fact that there is no deal, and no real sign of a deal, on a coronavirus relief bill. A bipartisan group of senators has managed to hammer out a $908 billion deal but Republicans refuse to allow its $160 billion for aid to state and local governments and Democrats refuse to agree to shield businesses from liability for coronavirus injuries. The bipartisan group tried to put the two things together, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says that’s a non-starter. Meanwhile, 26 million Americans say they don’t have enough to eat.
Second: There is a war underway for control of the Republican Party. While a losing incumbent president usually loses influence in the party, Trump intends to continue to call the shots. He wants to run again in 2024, or at least to anoint a successor, rather than letting the Republican National Committee pick a presidential candidate. There is a struggle going on to control the RNC and, as well, to figure out who gets control of the lists of supporters Trump has compiled. Trump also controls a lot of the party’s money, since he has been out front as its fundraiser without a break since he decided to run for office. He was the first president ever to file for reelection on the day of his inauguration, permitting him to hold “rallies” and to raise money throughout his presidency.
So Republican lawmakers are willing to swear loyalty to him, either because they want to attract his voters in future elections, or because they want access to the cash he can raise, or both. They no longer defend traditional policy positions; they defend Trump.
This loyalty requires contortions. In Georgia, the Republican Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr called the Texas lawsuit “constitutionally, legally and factually wrong.” But Georgia’s two senators, Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, have backed it. The senators are facing a runoff election in January against Democrat challengers Jon Ossoff and the Reverend Raphael Warnock, and they need Trump’s support. So they are taking a stand against their own voters. So are nearly half of Georgia’s Republican congressional delegation, despite the fact that this position logically would overturn their own elections.
Third: Texas’s lawsuit and the Republican Party’s embrace of it is an unprecedented attempt to destroy the very foundation of our democracy. Since the 1980s, Republican leaders have managed to hold onto power by suppressing votes, promoting disinformation, gerrymandering states, gaming the Electoral College, and stacking the courts.
Now, so unpopular that even gaming the mechanics of our system is not enough, they have abandoned democracy itself.