The word “coup” has been getting thrown around a lot in the past 24 hours, largely because the president of the United States went on TV at like 3 a.m. on Wednesday and basically said he was going to attempt one.
Granted, the president of the United States is an enormous lying moron and says shit like this all the time, but as of this afternoon it certainly appears that elements of the GOP and Trump campaign are going to, feebly we hope, attempt to steal the election through either bogus lawsuits, public tantrums, or extremely forceful whining.
So far, it doesn’t seem to be going great. Take, for instance, what happened in Detroit today, where some Trump people tried and failed to prevent what appears to be a crucial victory for Joe Biden in Michigan.
Election officials were busy counting votes at the TCF Center in Downtown Detroit. These ballots are largely from the Detroit area and are largely expected to go for Biden, giving him the last boost he needs to seal the state. According to the New York Times, Biden is currently ahead in Michigan by roughly 60,000 votes, but that lead will probably increase as the final votes from Wayne County (where Detroit is) get tallied up.
Obviously, the GOP doesn’t want that to happen, because it means that they will most likely lose the presidency. So earlier today the Macomb County GOP (the red-leaning county north of Detroit) put out a call for “Poll Challengers and or Volunteers” to head down to the TCF Center and help stop the count.
This effort to openly do a coup went largely how you would expect. The scene there looked like this:
Let’s be clear about a few things. Both major parties do have “poll challengers” inside the room where votes are being counted. This is a legal part of the vote-counting process, and challengers are allowed to challenge whether or not someone is registered to vote. They’re supposed to abide by a bunch of rules while doing so: they can’t get too close to people counting votes, they can’t challenge someone’s registration just because of the way they look, only a certain amount are allowed in at a time (because of COVID), etc.
What the GOP has done, however, is to essentially flood the zone with un-appointed “volunteers” or “election watchers” who are not official challengers and then have a whole bunch of other people show up and start chanting shit and intimidating the poll workers trying to do their job. The massive crush of hollering Republicans outside has also stopped Democrats from being able to rotate their own legal challengers in and out. The GOP’s official challengers inside the TCF Center were also breaking all of the rules constantly as well:
For what it’s worth they’ve also had mega-weirdos like this guy doing shit like this at a smaller scale since Monday.
This is not entirely unprecedented. In 2000, the GOP did almost exactly this same shit in Florida to fuck with vote counting there.
Bear in mind, all of this happened because at 3 a.m. this morning the president went on TV and said “stop the count” and then has spent all day tweeting about how we should stop the count. This is his best shot! Fortunately, thus far, it looks like pretty weak shit, and also appears to have failed miserably:
I guess now they actually can stop the count if that’s what the GOP really wants. We’re good! Carry on! But just as a postscript, let’s be forthright and all that about what it is: a very boring, extremely embarrassing attempt to disrupt democratic processes to steal an election. If Pennsylvania goes down to the wire later this week, you can bet that we’ll see similar actions there. Democracy in action baby!