US President Trump is voted out – but leading Republicans continue to back him up. It is a historically unprecedented process. There is calculation behind this.
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The leading Republican in the US Senate weighed his words with caution. With one sentence, Mitch McConnell could have dealt a decisive blow to Donald Trump’s political struggle for survival after his election defeat. Instead, he opted for a maneuver that has some commentators and media questioning whether it is help for an attempted coup.
Majority Leader McConnell ignored Trump’s open attack on US democracy and his unsubstantiated claims that there was systematic fraud in the presidential election. Instead, he called Trump’s legal action “not unusual” and, like the president, refused to recognize Joe Biden’s election victory. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo even said he expected a “smooth transition to a second Trump administration”. Even if he put a smile after the sentence: Republican party greats continue to stick to the president. That may be unprecedented – but they have their reasons.
72 million people voted for Trump
Trump spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany recently explained one of them in an interview with Fox News: “He has 72 million people who love him, who want to come and support him.” In doing so, she was alluding to the enormous number of people who voted for Trump. Its base is loud and follows it almost unconditionally, which a large demonstration by Trump supporters over the weekend in Washington showed once again.
Influential Senator Lindsey Graham never misses an opportunity to thank Trump for bringing many new voters to the party. For Graham, as for most other Republicans, an open break with Trump – and possibly the following angry tweets from the president – could cost him support in his constituency and possibly the political future.
USA: Trump supporters demonstrate against the election result. (Source: ZUMA Wire / imago images)
Power struggle for the Senate is decided in Georgia
But McConnell and the Republican party strategists are primarily looking at the power struggle that is still open in the US Senate: On January 5, the runoff elections for two crucial Senate seats will take place in the state of Georgia. If Republicans David Purdue and Kelly Loeffler lose to their Democratic challengers, there will be a stalemate in the powerful US Senate. Then the elected Vice President Kamala Harris would have the last word in the event of a tie – and the Democrats would in fact have a majority.
The Republicans would then not be able to block central projects of the coming administration, the way would be free for the partial reversal of Trump policy. In Georgia, the distribution of power will be voted on in the coming years – the Conservative Party has no use for resigned Trump supporters.
The calculation is to keep up their hope according to the motto “This is not over yet”. Even if that means flirting with the possibility that Trump could possibly continue to rule. After the runoff election, some believe that Republicans could change their stance on Biden. To date, only a few rather moderate representatives of the party have dared to recognize Biden’s victory.
USA, Texas: Trump supporters wave flags for their president. (Source: ZUMA Wire / imago images)
Republicans are playing dangerous games
Former President Barack Obama called Republican support for Trump a “dangerous path”. The magazine “New Yorker” wrote about “Minsk on the Potomac” instead of Washington – a reference to Belarus under the authoritarian ruler Alexander Lukashenko, whose re-election is not recognized in the West.
Meanwhile, those who fear a coup are also suspicious of the fact that Trump changed his defense minister shortly after the election and filled other key positions in the security apparatus with confidants. There are also rumors that FBI director Christopher Wray and CIA boss Gina Haspel are also on the hit list.
At the same time, several media, including the “New York Times”, reported that Trump was not pursuing a master plan despite the security of victory presented. Rather, he is gradually coming to terms with his defeat. Keeping up the story of the stolen election is likely to become increasingly difficult in the coming days and weeks if Trump’s recounts and lawsuits fail, as expected, and the states gradually ratify the results.
Democracy is at stake
Nothing less is at stake than democracy, wrote the influential Republican party strategist Karl Rove in a highly regarded commentary for the “Wall Street Journal”. “US politics remains polarized and poisoned. The conclusion of this election will be a difficult but necessary step in restoring some unity and political balance,” it said. Trump must soon do his part to unite the country and arrange for the office to be handed over to Joe Biden.
The “New Yorker” already described the question of a peaceful change of power as a “defeat for the United States and a victory not only for Trump, but for all future Trumpists who will forever follow the example of a President of the United States which violates the most fundamental principle of American democracy: accepting the election results and the consequences that come with them “.
Trump’s “poison” for US democracy oozes deep
Trump’s “poison” for US democracy – as late-night talker Stephen Colbert called it – has already seeped in deep and could cause lasting damage. In the present, however, the denial of an orderly handover is becoming a national security problem for Republican Trump supporters as well. Recently, the demand had also grown louder in their ranks that Biden must at least receive the secret service briefings he was entitled to in order to be adequately prepared for his task from day one.
According to US media, Trump should consider running again in the 2024 presidential election. They expect the Republicans to keep quiet for the time being, even in this case. A legend of the postponed election at the expense of democracy could help Trump regain power in the White House, even if he has to vacate it by January 20, 2021.