Wednesday, January 6, 2021

A view of the 'coup attempt' from Michigan

I didn't know what to blog about this morning because I thought events would be moving so quickly that by the time I would have finished writing and promoting today's entry, it would be out of date. The default would have been a serious treatment of Trump's "perfect call" to Georgia's Secretary of State to balance out yesterday's comedic take, but I wasn't feeling it. I thought that I would be better off waiting for the results of the Senate runoff elections in Georgia or for the drama at the U.S. Capitol over the certification of the Electoral College vote. I was right to wait. In fact, I had no idea how right I would be, as the drama at the Capitol turned violent as a mob took over the building this afternoon.

I begin my "view of the 'coup' from Michigan" with WOOD-TV's lead story from the 6:00 P.M. newcast, Trump backers storm Capitol; 1 dead, curfew in place.*

Law enforcement officers secured the U.S. Capitol building after pro-Trump supporters breached the perimeter and entered the building as Congress met Wednesday afternoon.
I can tell the producers at WOOD-TV were rattled because of the uneven and shaky start to the report, which gave a good overview of the action at the Capitol this afternoon. WXYZ gave a more personal account in 'I'm safe.' Michigan lawmakers react to violent demonstration at U.S. Capitol.

Michigan lawmakers are reacting to the violent demonstration at the U.S. Capitol that has left the building locked down, people breaching the building and lawmakers sheltered in their office.
As I've written before about the difference in coverage between WOOD-TV and WXYZ, WOOD-TV does a better job of analysis in the studio, while WXYZ excels at "man and woman in the street" interviews. In this case, the interviewees just happened to be U.S. Representatives.

WXYZ continued getting reactions to what Joe Biden called an insurrection and others have called a riot (I think both are correct) in MI GOP leader decries violent protest.

A leader of the Michigan Republicans is decrying the chaos in Washington DC.
I bet Rocky Raczkowski is reconsidering his support for Trump now.

Both WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids and WXYZ in Detroit focused their reports on the rally and mob action afterwards. WNEM in Flint included the reason for today's joint session of Congress in Political science professor outlines certification process.

Before protesters descended on and subsequently stormed the United States Capitol on Wednesday, the electoral certification happening inside was already shaking up.
Hah! If only today ended up being as boring as Professor Kyla Stepp thought it would be. Instead, it ended up being much worse. In November, I made the following observations about Trump refusing to concede.
Back in September, I posted what if Trump refuses to concede a loss in November? We're finding out the answer along with a bonus helping of Trump refusing to commit to a peaceful transfer of power. If someone more competent were trying this, it would be just terrifying. Since it's Donald Trump, it's still terrifying, but it's also ridiculous.
Back then, I thought things weren't as bad as they could have been. Now, they've approached the worst case scenario. When Seth Meyers and Jimmy Kimmel take closer looks at Trump saying he won't leave the White House became the most read entry of December 2020, I should have been paying attention. People were right to be worried!

I might get around to the results of the Georgia Senate runoff elections tomorrow or the day after. I suspect I will be posting the reactions of the late-night talk show hosts to today's violence instead. Stay tuned.

*I put "coup" in quotes because of what I wrote in Meyers, Colbert, and Noah take closer looks at Trump intervening in Georgia's elections.
Strictly speaking, what Trump is attempting, however ineptly, is not a coup d'état; it resembles watered-down version of an autogolfe or "self-coup", although it would be lacking some of the characteristics of even that.
A self-coup (or autocoup, from the Spanish autogolpe) is a form of putsch or coup d'état in which a nation's leader, despite having come to power through legal means, dissolves or renders powerless the national legislature and unlawfully assumes extraordinary powers not granted under normal circumstances. Other measures taken may include annulling the nation's constitution, suspending civil courts and having the head of government assume dictatorial powers.
Trump and his allies are trying to overturn the results of an election to keep him in power, but they are not trying to assume extraordinary powers for themselves or dissolve legislatures and courts. The entire effort requires democratic and republican structures to succeed. In fact, they're attempting to get the courts to assume extraordinary powers, which the courts are refusing to do, and their scheme requires legislatures increasing their powers to make it work, which, so far, they are also declining to do. After all, Trump and the people advising him know that, as I also repeated yesterday, "The real election is the Electoral College, which votes on December 14, 2020. That's followed by a joint session of the new Congress on January 6, 2021." Trump is trying to game those steps to get electors who will vote for him. If that fails, Republican Representatives and Senators will challenge the electors during the joint session. Both could result in Trump being re-elected while thwarting the will of the voters. That would feel like a coup, even if it technically isn't one.
Having an armed mob storm the legislature on behalf of the outgoing chief executive makes it feel even more like a coup, but it still doesn't satisfy the criteria in Coup with Adjectives: Conceptual Stretching or Innovation in Comparative Research? The methods are illegal, but the executive is not the target and the state, other than the person of the chief executive itself, is not involved in its execution. Instead, it looks like Trump gave up on the mechanisms of government achieving what he wants and has turned to the street, which satisfied one of the criteria his previous efforts did not, "A self-coup (or autocoup, from the Spanish autogolpe) is a form of putsch or coup d'état in which a nation's leader, despite having come to power through legal means, dissolves or renders powerless the national legislature..." We're getting closer, so welcome to another Weimar moment.

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