Let’s call a thing a thing

This is not the second election post I was planning to write: the post focusing on the “second lens of analysis” I had in mind on Sunday is still in process. However, more current events are demanding attention today.

As the post-election post family is built, I’ll put the cross-links here:


A friend of mine texted me this morning with a brief question:

Can we call it a coup now?

Yes. Yes we can.

I mean the jury is still out about how successful this coup will be, or even how whole-heartedly Cheeto POTUS is really working towards this goal. Nevertheless, the appropriate language to describe the administration’s obstructionist behavior around the presidential transition is to call it—at bare minimum—an attempted coup.

Close-up of a protest sign reading "Error 404: Democracy not found."

I mean: 2016’s behaviors show us that this group doesn’t much care for effective governmental hand-offs. Still, this is a whole other level of awful.

It was bad enough yesterday when the General Services Administration refused to allow the Biden team to start a formal transition process. Yes, Biden is well-connected after his years of service in DC, but this GSA authorization is crucial for a number of key things, including:

  • facilitating access to agency heads to learn about current policies, projects and priorities—no agency head will talk to the Biden team before the GSA authorization occurs*
  • including President-elect Biden in the daily NSA briefings—again, however much past political experience Biden may have, there is no replacement for this important process of orienting him to any current or incipient threats

For the record: the 9/11 Commission pointed to the delays in getting Gorge W. Bush’s national security team up and running after the 2000 election controversy as a contributing factor in that national tragedy. This ish matters, y’all.

But then there’s today. When asked about the potential security risks of a delayed transition, Secretary of State Pompeo had the gall to promise “a smooth transition to a second Trump administration.” Meanwhile, Cheeto POTUS has ordered federal agencies to prepare to implement his federal budget in February—yes, for after the date President Biden will have been sworn into office.

In the meantime, multiple Department of Defense staffers have been fired today and replaced with “actings” who are die-hard Cheeto loyalists: I don’t think anyone would be especially surprised to see similar punitive/self-protective actions in other agencies likely to have incriminating evidence (watch DOJ, the FBI, and the CIA). And, of course, the filing of lawsuits and allegations of fraud continue.

Though it’s in contesting the election results where you begin to see how half-assed this coup attempt is. Suits are getting thrown out as frivolous; some aren’t even being filed with the right paperwork; and in places (*cough*MICHIGAN*cough*) where a recount would be allowable if the campaign shelled up the money, guess who’s not shelling out the cash?

So: attempted coup, on the road to what I hope will become a failed coup.

After all,

what’s a little undermining of democracy between friends?

Washington Post

Still, this is something that bears watching—and, if needed, action—as days unfold. If action turns out to be needed, here’s a couple starting places:

I remain hopeful that this will die down quickly: the U.S, Military and Secret Service have shown every indication that they are committed to a peaceful transfer of power, and almost all the rest of the globe’s political community is moving on apace to work with Biden.

Still, I worry about the long-term repercussions here.

But the reason the days since the election have been so unsettling is that this one fixed and robust pillar of democratic rule—that the people cast votes and the votes count—is the very thing now under attack, not just with the careless words of a wounded president, but with the concerted alignment of a party that cannot now seem to accept anything short of a total vanquishing of its opponents.



* Between you, me and the lamppost, I’m also assuming that the White House is putting active pressure on agency leaders NOT to cooperate with the transition team


Image credit: Flicker user acampadapraga, via a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) license.

4 thoughts on “Let’s call a thing a thing

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