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Saturday, May 29, 2021


Let me take just a moment to give voice to my inner fears. Let us suppose that Trump seeks the nomination in 2024 (whether in prison or not, it makes no real difference – Debs actually ran for the presidency while in jail on the Socialist ticket and got several million votes.) If he does, I think it quite likely that he will get the nomination because I cannot imagine the eight or ten or fifteen other Republicans vying for the nomination agreeing to back one candidate against Trump. Suppose Biden runs again and the result is roughly the same – an enormous popular victory for Biden and a modest electoral college victory in which there are several important states which Biden wins by relatively modest margins. Suppose, as seems likely in that case, that enough of the closest states in the Biden column have Republican legislatures.


In this set of circumstances, which do not strike me as terribly unlikely, suppose that the Republican legislatures simply vote to send slates of Trump electors to the Congress. Suppose that slates of Biden electors are also sent from those states. Suppose that on January 6, 2024 the House and Senate meet and imagine at this point that the Democrats control the Senate, having picked up one or two seats in 2022 and the Republicans control the House. If the House and Senate do not agree on whom to seat as president, the matter, I believe, goes to the House with each state delegation voting as a unit.


Suppose that under this set of assumptions, Trump, who has clearly lost the election, is declared the winner by a majority of the House state delegations voting as units. In short, suppose the Republicans in conformity with the specifications of the Constitution, steal the election. I simply cannot believe that California, New York, and the other Democratic states will accept this result. Suppose the Supreme Court refuses to consider the matter on the legally correct grounds that it is for the Congress to settle the issue.


At this point, American democracy, such as it is and as it has been at least during my lifetime, is over. What would the outcome be? I honestly do not know. Whom would the Army obey? Whom would the National Guard obey? Whom would the District of Columbia police and the capital police obey?


This keeps me up at night.


Anonymous said...

I dare say it may be inappropriate for me to offer practical advice to someone my senior by some 15 years, but as I often hear people say, let’s take one day at a time. There are so many contingencies in the nightmare which you outline, and which is keeping you up at night, that I have to believe that fate will make one or more of them turn against Trump’s prospects. This is not to trivialize your concerns. I am befuddled, perplexed and angered to see what insanity has gained traction in the Republican Party. I saw an interview of voters in Marjorie Greene’s district this morning. Although many took issue with her outlandish and offensive comments about the Holocaust and face masks, they still said they would vote for her again. It all reminds me of that anecdote in Serpico in which Frank Serpico’s girlfriend asks him if he has ever heard about the kingdom in which everyone had drunk the water from a well poisoned by an evil wizard.

At times like this, repeated recitation of the serenity prayer is the only thing which gives me comfort.

Jerry Brown said...

I usually call you 'Professor'- but dude- you gotta relax a bit. Last thing anyone wants to be thinking about when trying to sleep is Donald Trump. Anyways, the election isn't till November 2024 and Congress almost certainly is not going to be doing anything critical in January 2024. And probably not in 2025 either.

s. wallerstein said...

Maybe in the long run it would better for the United States to break up. There seems to be two irreconciliable cultures there.

New York, California, Massachusetts, etc., could form a society along the lines of Scandinavia or Holland, while Texas, Mississippi and other similar states could form one closer to Hungary.

The new Scandinavia-like society should give blacks, Asians, gays, free-thinkers, etc., from the ex red states immediate rights of citizenship if they chose to migrate to the ex blue states.

Otherwise, there will be new Trumps, more violence, more conflicts. Sometimes divorce is the only way out of a bad marriage.

Michael Llenos said...

Pangloss sometimes said to Candide:

"There is a concatenation of events in this best of all possible worlds: for if you had not been kicked out of a magnificent castle for love of Miss Cunegonde: if you had not been put into the Inquisition: if you had not walked over America: if you had not stabbed the Baron: if you had not lost all your sheep from the fine country of El Dorado: you would not be here eating preserved citrons and pistachio-nuts."

"All that is very well," answered Candide, "but let us cultivate our garden."

--Candide (Public Domain)

Anonymous said...

"I usually call you 'Professor'..." Why *do* so many people here refer to our host as "Professor Wolff"? I've been reading the blog for a few months, and this feature of the comments section strikes me as odd. I read a lot of blogs, many by academics (some much more prominent in their fields than RPW was/is) and in none do commenters or correspondents routinely use the honorific "Professor". What's going on here? How did it start? Why did it stick?

s. wallerstein said...

It might be to some extent a generational thing. When I was in the university in the 60's,
we addressed our professors as "Professor X", X being the last name. Even when we got to know them a little, we still addressed them that way. I never would have called a professor by his or her first name, just as a professor never would have appeared in class without a tie and jacket if male and without a dress if female.

Anonymous said...

I want to make clear that the Anonymous at 4:21 PM is not the same Anonymous at 12:43 PM, nor is it the same Anonymous who is routinely castigated by, and who engages in friendly banter with, LFC, s. wallerstein, J. Rapko and the rest of the universe, including his wife.

Anonymous said...


I meant the Anonymous at 4:10 P.M., not at 4:21 PM, who is s. wallerstein, and who most certainly is not anonymous

LFC said...

Anonymous @ 4:10

One reason people address him as 'Professor' is that there was an entire discussion here a while back on this very subject.

Someone asked RPW how he wanted to be addressed, and he answered that he preferred to be addressed as Professor, and proceeded to explain why. This must have occurred before you began to read the blog, otherwise you might well have remembered it (though not necessarily, I suppose).

aaall said...

What gives me comfort is the Social Security Actuarial Table which gives me exactly eleven more years. In 1931 things looked bleak and then we had Roosevelt, so maybe. On the other hand Reaction has been clawing back since 1946 and there's only so much ruin before things are ruined. The Constitution was not designed to deal with political parties, not to mention one driven by an ideology.

The current military won't deal and seeding the GO corps with ideologically committed cadres will be high on the list. Jan. 6 was just a rehearsal.

aaall said...

"...the election isn't till November 2024..."

A Republican Senate in 2022 means judicial and other appointments that require confirmation won't happen. The Reps winning either House means the end of any significant legislation. A Rep house means bad faith investigations and an impeachment or so. One thing 1/6 was designed to do was turn a previously ministerial formality into a matter of legislative choice.

David Zimmerman said...

So much confusion over who the Anonymous posters are.......

Why is there such resistance here to the idea that there be no more such postings?

Why would any honourable person wish to hide behind that cowardly designation?

Really.... why !?

Anonymous said...

I will have you know, sir, that some well-regarded works were published anonymously, including “Primary Colors,” “Common Sense,” “Frankenstein,” and “The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man,” none of whose authors can accurately be called cowards.

While I do not place myself in the same category of accomplishment as these, there can be a panoply of reasons why one might prefer to write anonymously, including to avoid creditors or an overbearing spouse who would prefer that the author be washing the windows rather than idling away his time making inconsequential comments on a blog. Surely such conduct does not compare to the cowardice of 43 Republican senators who do not have the backbone to stand up to Trump and refused to vote in favor of establishing a bi-partisan committee to investigate the January 5 insurrection.

Please, try to keep things in perspective.

Jerry Brown said...

Well I never thought about the possibility of an overbearing spouse being the reason for posting anonymous comments and I definitely do not like washing windows either. Luckily it has been raining here all day and perhaps that will wash one side of the windows. I can just close the curtains on the other side and ignore them for another six months. It might be snowing by then...

Anonymous said...

As a quick rule of thumb, everybody one interacts with on the Internet is a Nigerian Prince. Unless more and reliable information is added, it makes very little difference if one commentator appears as Anonymous or gives a plausible name.

According to the White Pages, for example, there are "100+ records for David Zimmerman in California, Oregon and 48 other states."

A plausible name is certainly useful as an aide to communication. It adds nothing in terms of trustworthiness, and may actually induce a sense of false confidence.

José Hernández (see what I mean?)

anon. said...

Were I to reveal that I was Joe Biden or Prince Harry or whoever, that might prompt responses far afield from the current topic. So on the off chance that I'm so famous as to distort discussion, I'll stick with my pseudonym

David Zimmerman said...

Oy ... These "defences" of the practice of blogging as "Anonymous" are as shabby one would expect.

LFC said...

1) I don't esp. care whether people post as Anonymous, though I do understand why David Zimmerman and probably some others don't like it.

2) In case anyone is wondering, the initials LFC are my real initials, and I've occasionally (admittedly, on rare occasion) linked here to things I've written under my full name. I'm not sure why anyone esp. would want to know what my full name is, but it's probably not that hard to find if one really wants to do so.

P.s. anon. @ 6:36: I like the reference to Prince Harry. Even if he and his spouse have separated themselves from The Firm. ;)

T.J. said...

The scenario Prof. Wolff lays out is certainly one of the options. I think it far more likely in that scenario that the Republican primaries would be cancelled. There aren't any Republicans who want to run against Trump and who the state parties would hold a primary to let them try.

Two other considerations though: 1) Trump is clearly declining as his demented brain turns to slush. I don't know what the life expectancy is with Alzheimers (or whatever other degenerative disease he has), but he's already 74, so maybe nature takes him off our plate. 2) I don't think Trump wants to run for president again. I don't think he wanted to be president the first time, he fell into it when all he wanted was attention. More likely, so far as I can tell, than him running for president is him pretending to run for president, accepting a bunch of campaign donations with some fine print about how the money will be used for his personal gain, and then dropping out in spring of '24 citing how the whole thing is rigged and the election would be stolen.

Trump not running again doesn't solve our problems though. There are still tens of millions of people who believe all of his lies and have given up on democracy as a desirable way to organize a government. Those people choosing a different figure head is just as dangerous as Trump becoming president again, maybe more dangerous considering how inept Trump was at being a dictator.

John Rapko said...

On Naming and Non-Necessity: 1. I've taught at about a dozen different colleges and universities. I've been addressed as (a) 'John' (at art schools and by adult students at community colleges); (b) 'Rapko' (mostly art students who smirk at me for liking Picasso and/or disliking Duchamp; (c) 'Mr. Rapko' (mostly mid-level schools); (d) 'Professor Rapko' (UC Berkeley, Stanford, Catholic schools, and at a grievance/mediation hearing by a lawyer representing an academic administration that was harassing me); (e) 'Doctor Rapko'(by adult students at the beginning of a personal attack). I conclude nothing from this, but 2. Referring to RPW here as 'the professor' seems to me to suggest the appropriate level of respect and affection for the noble and beloved blogger. 3. I prefer that commentators use 'names' other than 'anonymous'; it helps me keep track. 4. As for castigating/being castigated: I consider anyone who can teach me something a friend, though not necessarily a close one.

Anonymous said...

Prof. Rapko,

If you should find yourself being harassed by another lawyer again, just contact me on this blog and I will represent you for free, provided I can find another attorney who will sponsor me to appear pro hac vice in (I believe) California. It would be a pleasure. (I know, I'm blowing my cover.)

John Rapko said...

Anonymous, having many times witnessed here your stupefying analytic powers, mastery of relevant facts, and fearlessness, I had already picked you out as my dream attorney.

Achim Kriechel (A.K.) said...

Nightmares with a comprehensible background, that's what I would call what kept the professor awake. "Do not go gentle into that good night". There is plenty of reason to do so, perhaps more than ever. We are still far from understanding the deep insecurity that leads people to fall for the flute tones of the pied pipers.

"To understand what is is the task of philosophy, because what is is reason. As far as the individual is concerned, each is in any case a child of its time; so is philosophy, its time grasped in thought." (Hegel)

Andrew Lionel Blais said...

What name would a transcendental ego use? "Anonymous"?

LFC said...

@ Andrew Lionel Blais

Perhaps you wouldn't mind reminding me, as someone probably much less well-versed in philosophy generally (and Kant in particular) than yourself, what a "transcendental ego" is. I cd look it up of course, but am too lazy (i.e. can't be bothered) rt now.

RobertD said...

Re TJ's comment of May 29, 2021 at 9:00 PM.

That suggests an obvious way for Trump to remain the centre of attention without running for President, namely to make himself the Republicans' kingmaker.

All the media attention he loves, the political donations to which he is also partial and no responsibilities at all!

So I would certainly agree with TJ that Trump not running again does not solve all, or possibly any, of your political system's problems.

GJ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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