July 15, 2021

This is one of those rhetorical questions for which there is no response except laughter. John Avlon with his Reality Check segment wants to know what it would take to get Republicans to condemn Trump and his coup attempt.

"What's it going to take? What's it going to take to make Republicans realize that Donald Trump was and is a danger to our democratic republic?" he asked.

"How about the news that America's top generals, quote, believed Trump was stoking unrest, possibly in hopes of an excuse to invoke the Insurrection Act and call out the military to stay in power? That's called a coup, and that's how democracies die. A new book by a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, called 'I Alone Can Fix It' shows the week's attack on our Capitol. They said Trump was acting like, quote, 'a classic authoritarian leader with nothing to lose,' adding, 'This is a Reichstag moment."

"This isn't some Democrat talking. This is a leader of our nonpartisan military, and it should be a wake-up call to anyone who still tries to downplay Donald Trump and the Big Lie. Because we just lived through the nightmare scenario our Founders feared. The New York Times reporting that Trump's aides drafted an Insurrection Act order to deploy the U.S. military on American soil in response to protests. The president denied it at the time, no surprise there. But the idea was in wide circulation, because right wing vigilante group members were caught online hoping Trump would invoke the Insurrection Act around January 6.

"But even this bombshell news about a potential presidential coup for which there is no precedent in American history might sound to some folks like a Trump scandal. Most Republicans will react with a shrug and defer to 'what about-ism.' It's because they can't handle the truth. That's why the vast majority refuse to support a bipartisan commission to investigate the insurrectionist attack. That's why we know the threat to our republic is not over, not by a long shot. Yes, the guardrails held in the end, thanks to a few good men and women in the government. But far more in the administration were afraid to speak out, which means they remain complicit.

"Because despite all this evidence that a manifestly unstable man tried to tear up the Constitution and overturn an election, Donald Trump is still the clear leader of the Republican party. 'My country, right or wrong,' has been replaced by 'My party, right or wrong.' So who's to say that the next time there is an opportunity to overturn the will of the people that Republicans won't refuse to certify an election if they control both houses of Congress? We can't say that it can't happen here. Because it almost did, and that's why we need to strengthen democracy's guardrails right now, especially when Republicans are working overtime at the state level to pass new laws aimed at voter suppression and partisan administration of elections.

"President Biden's speech was strong, but it sidestepped the key question, the filibuster. And it is clear no election reforms will pass without filibuster reform. That includes the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which is now backed by 150 major companies. But a full-fledged democracy reform movement needs to strengthen the guardrails around presidential abuse of power as well.

"But it's clear many Republicans intend to obstruct any reaction. Congressman Chip Roy, caught on tape saying he wants '18 more months of chaos and the inability to get stuff done before the midterms.' Democracy depends on assumption of good will between fellow citizens. But that assumption has been broken by Donald Trump and his minions. And that's why there needs to be accountability before there can be unity. Because if conservatives can't clear a presidential coup, what can they condemn? If this isn't wrong, what is?

"And that's your reality check."

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