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Fri Oct 30, 2020, 11:01 AM

It's up to the people to foil Trump's plot against democracy

Opinion by Robert Kagan

As American democracy hurtles toward what could be its final crisis, we continue to hope that someone will ultimately rise up to save us, that somehow our institutions will protect us, that people in positions of authority will finally do the right thing. This faith in the resilience of democracy is endearing, but unfortunately all it has done these past four years is blind and paralyze us. Believing that the only problem was President Trump and his authoritarian inclinations, we have looked to those around him — in the White House, in the Justice Department, in Congress and in the courts — to control and contain him, presumably out of some innate love of democracy.

It did not occur to us that men and women with respectable résumés might be just as willing to subvert the democratic system as Trump himself, as if U.S. officials alone were immune from the temptations of power. The consequence of this self-delusion is that we have now almost run out of chances to stop them.

Trump and his supporters have told us exactly how they plan to hold onto power regardless of the election outcome. The president began declaring the election “” even before early voting began, and he has yet to say that he will respect a result that does not favor him. Republicans in hotly contested states are already planning to bring lawsuits alleging fraud, miscounts, tainted ballots and other irregularities.

Our Democracy in Peril: A series on the damage Trump has caused — and the danger he would pose in a second term
The national intelligence director, John Ratcliffe, has set the predicate for charges of foreign interference by overhyping alleged Iranian manipulation before the election. When Ratcliffe finds evidence of Iranian and other foreign interference, as he surely will, Attorney General William P. Barr will call for an investigation. Anyone in the intelligence community who disputes Ratcliffe’s claims will either be silenced or fired. Trump officials are already leaking that FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, CIA Director Gina Haspel and Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper might be removed after the election. The claims of Republican state legislatures and the results of the “investigation” into foreign meddling will then come before the Supreme Court, which, with a solid 6-to-3 conservative majority, will put its stamp of legitimacy on the stolen election.


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