At USA Today, David Rothkopf asks this important question and then fumbles on the answer:
As we approach the first anniversary of the Jan. 6 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol, many questions remain. Among these, one of the most important is, “What if?”
What if the coup attempt had succeeded? What if the election results had been overturned? What if Donald Trump were illegally installed for a second term as president of the United States?
It could have happened several different ways. Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman might have been out sick last Jan. 6 and not in place to divert the mob away from fleeing and hiding members of Congress. The Trumpist horde could have found their way to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Vice President Mike Pence or other members of Congress and killed or injured them.
Had they done so, it might have resulted in postponing the certification of the election and in the ensuing time, despite whatever national outrage was triggered, the former president and his supporters might have engineered politically motivated challenges in key states throwing the election’s results into question.
Rothkoff, the author of this “what if Trump managed to steal the election” piece, is a Democrat who, like most Democrats nowadays, doesn’t really take the “what if?” question seriously. His biggest concern seems to be that “it is not hard to imagine that within weeks after stealing the election, Trump would have moved quickly to consolidate power and protect himself from challenges.” Just like every president does? His solution is standard Democrat blather about election laws “that will make it harder for tens of millions of Americans – often minority voters and others who tend to vote Democratic – to vote.” This ignores the fact that making it “harder” to vote (like requiring identification, an act that Democrats are convinced is beyond the capability of anyone with dark skin) doesn’t really matter if voters manage to surmount those obstacles, and Republicans throw out their votes anyway.
That is what Trump tried to do — and the real answer to “what if” he had succeeded is that he would have made it impossible to change power through peaceful means.
And that leaves force as the only option left.
So the real answer to the question is: if Trump had managed to get himself installed, even though the voters chose someone else, then the citizenry would have been justified in removing him by force, using any means necessary.
I have often said that the real issue with the January 6 insurrectionists isn’t that they tried to overtake the government by force, but that their premises were wrong. If they were actually correct that the election had been blatantly stolen, they would have had no other option.
That is what happens when elections are no longer a viable way to choose a leader.
That is the plain truth, yet people recoil from it. “My lands, but that is a bridge too far! Are you suggesting what I think you are suggesting?”
You bet I am. As an analogy, the Russian people would absolutely be justified in deposing Vladimir Putin by force, including (if necessary) through the means you now realize I am actually suggesting. And that is because there is no other way to remove Vladimir Putin.
And if Trump had managed to seize power despite the People choosing someone else, our citizenry would be justified in doing the same.
And that is a horrifying thing to say. Which is why I keep (to borrow Jonah Goldberg’s phrase) banging my spoon on my high chair about this issue. It is the most serious issue facing the country. Democrats’ silly little election laws aren’t going to fix it. What is needed is a serious reform of the Electoral Count Act.
But it’s not going to happen, because partisan Democrats aren’t actually taking the danger seriously.
I pray that what I see coming doesn’t actually take place.