Leaving an American Munich

As part of the Armistice that ended World War I in 1918, Germany agreed to sharply curtail its military establishment.  Over the years following Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in Germany in 1933, he undertook a military buildup in flagrant violation of Germany’s WWI agreements, correctly calculating that neither England nor France – each having the military might to easily stop Germany’s unauthorized buildup in its early stages — would have the will to do so.  And then … it was too late.

To historians the world over, the word, “Munich,” is synonymous with, “appeasement” – an agreement concluded in Munich in September, 1938, by Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and France that provided for “cessation” of part of another sovereign nation, Czechoslovakia, to Germany.  It was an attempt by the U.K. and France to avoid a war with a now militarily-muscular Germany by appeasing Adolf Hitler.  While widely acclaimed at the time, Winston Churchill called it, “… a most grievous consequence of what we have done and of what we have left undone in the last five years – five years of futile good intentions, five years of eager search for the line of least resistance, five years of uninterrupted retreat of British power ….”  Nazi Germany invaded Poland within a year, commencing World War II.

It is has been reported by multiple sources that Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel and Michigan Republican Chair Laura Cox have written Michigan’s Board of State Canvassers, urging the Board to delay Michigan’s certification of its presidential election results – scheduled for today — for 14 days, to allow a full audit and investigation of “numerical anomalies” and “procedural irregularities.”  A Republican state canvasser has reportedly indicated that he is considering supporting the delay. 

This is poppycock.  On Friday, after an extraordinarily inappropriate White House meeting instigated by President Trump, the Michigan Senate Majority Leader and House Speaker – both Republicans – stated straightforwardly that they knew of nothing that would change Michigan’s election outcome.

I am heartened by the Michigan legislators’ statement, and some media accounts reassuringly report that despite the national and state Republican parties’ antics, Michigan’s governing statute provides that the state election canvassers have little choice but to certify its election results, and if they don’t, certification will nonetheless quickly occur through either the authority of Democratic MI Gov. Gretchen Whitmer or order of a Michigan appellate court.  That said, I remain uneasy.  The Republican efforts are a blatant attempt to provide Mr. Trump time to build momentum.  I’m finally there:  the Trump Conspiracy is about more than undermining President-Elect Joe Biden’s legitimacy and sowing distrust in our electoral processes to enhance future media ratings among the Trump cult; it is to stage a coup.

[The irony lost on the Trump Cult amid all these thrashings:  Mr. Trump manifestly doesn’t even want the job.  While he had time to entertain the Michigan legislators Friday in his traitorous quest, on Saturday – with U.S. Coronavirus deaths at the highest levels since last summer – he chose to play golf rather than attend a G20 “Pandemic Preparedness” event.]

Something that it took me some time to realize in the miasma of Mr. Biden’s mounting vote totals and victories, Mr. Trump’s malevolent lies, mounting Coronavirus cases, and a blizzard of state dates:  the Trump Conspiracy is effectively over unless it can delay vote certification in either Michigan or Pennsylvania this week.  (Note:  the Conspiracy suffered a notable loss Saturday when a federal court dismissed its lawsuit to block Pennsylvania’s certification, but will presumably appeal to the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals and thereafter to the U.S. Supreme Court.)  When adding Georgia’s 16 Electoral College votes to Mr. Biden (given its Friday certification of his victory) to the 232 Electoral College votes that will ultimately be allotted to him from the “2016 Clinton States” he won, Mr. Biden’s Electoral College vote total seemingly now stands at a de facto 248.  While neither Michigan’s nor Pennsylvania’s respective certifications will individually put Mr. Biden over the top, both states’ certifications will garner him 36 additional Electoral College votes, and mean that Mr. Trump has de facto lost.  The President’s only remaining recourses would then appear to be to seditiously attempt to overturn certifications — unlikely without evidence that the Conspiracy obviously lacks — persuade Republican-controlled legislatures in states won by Mr. Biden to overturn the expressed will of their electorates by sending their states’ Trump slates to the Electoral College – seemingly a politically suicidal step that no state politician will relish — or persuade a sufficient number of Biden electors to vote for him – an incredible reach, since if all states currently “called” for Mr. Biden so certify their vote totals, the President will need 38 Biden electors to be “faithless” — and even then, such “faithless” votes might well be overturned in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Although the preceding paragraph provides some comfort, I would submit that the time for temperate responses to the President’s machinations has passed.  If he can somehow delay certifications in Pennsylvania and/or Michigan – states Mr. Biden won by relatively wide margins – it does not seem unreasonable to suppose that with momentum, he may well be able to obtain certification delays in Arizona and Wisconsin, states Mr. Biden won more narrowly with Republican-controlled legislatures in which Mr. Trump is already challenging the voting processes.

While I have lauded Mr. Biden’s even response to Mr. Trump’s histrionics thus far, believing strongly that Mr. Trump wants a fight to rally his supporters, I fear that national Republicans’ approach of appeasement has enabled Mr. Trump to get up a head of steam.  They keep thinking that Mr. Trump will “come around,” will “do the right thing.”  He never will.  Mr. Trump’s niece, Mary Trump, a clinical psychologist, called it in her book, Too Much and Never Enough:

“[Mr. Trump engages in] [w]orking the refs, lying, cheating … [He will] [c]laim that a failure is a tremendous victory, and the shameless grandiosity will retroactively make it so. … Donald takes any rebuke as a challenge and doubles down on the behavior that drew fire in the first place, as if the criticism is permission to do worse. … The deafening silence in response to [Mr. Trump’s] blatant display of sociopathic [behavior during his presidency] … fills me with despair and reminds me that Donald isn’t really the problem after all.”

For years after World War II, public policy and military scholars lamented that they had not paid more attention to Mein Kampf; in it, Adolf Hitler told the world exactly what he intended to do.  We have only recently gained the benefit of Dr. Trump’s insights into the president, but in this new, post-election phase of the Trump presidency, I fear that we ignore her warnings at our peril.  It’s time to use all legal means to stop him.  The time for reasoning with Mr. Trump and his supplicants has passed.  If there is any delay in Michigan’s certification process today, Gov. Whitmer, with the behind-the-scenes support of the Biden Transition Team, should move aggressively to promptly effect the certification through her power or in the Michigan courts.  Equally energetic efforts should be undertaken in Pennsylvania if such become necessary.  It is time to leave this American Munich.

Before it’s too late.

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