There really is a vast right-wing conspiracy

There is a possibility of an anti-democratic right-wing coup in the United States.  There really is.  Here’s how it might work.

You have another close Presidential election, like the ones in 2016 and 2020.  The balance of the electoral vote is in a few key states with Republican majorities in the state legislatures.

Those Republicans invoke Section II, Article 1, of the Constitution, which says: “Each state shall appoint, in such manner as the Legislature shall direct, a number of electors… …”

This is interpreted to mean that the state legislatures have the power to set aside election results, disregarding their own state laws and their governors.

Competing slates of electors go to Washington (this happened once before, in 1876).  

Another Constitutional question arises.  Who decides which electors are legitimate?  The Vice-President, whose duty is to certify the Electoral Collage vote?  The House of Representatives, whose duty is to pick a winner when no candidate has a majority?  Congress as a whole?  The Supreme Court?

There is mass protest, in Washington (as happened in 2020) and the state capitols (as was feared, but didn’t happen).  A President is inaugurated, but tens of millions of Americans believe the government is illegitimate.  Martial law is declared.  A low-level civil war begins.

I do not predict this will happen in 2024, but I do believe a constitutional crisis is inevitable if things go on as they are.  The moments of maximum danger will be during a future crises—an economic crash, defeat in a major war or failure to cope with disasters and plagues.

The economic historian Adam Tooze pointed out in his latest book that a constitutional crisis was avoided in 2020 only because all the forces of the American establishment were dead set against Donald Trump.  This includes the military, the intelligence community, the Supreme Court, big business and the press.

All of them regarded Trump as dangerously unpredictable, and Joe Biden as a safe choice.  But he said the balance of forces might have been different if the incumbent had been, say, Jeb Bush and the narrow victor had been, say, Bernie Sanders. 

Political scientist Adolph Reed Jr. had a good discussion of this with Paul Jay on Jay’s podcast, based on an article Reed wrote for

Reed pointed out that Republicans are numerically the minority party in the USA, but they hold on to power partly by the peculiarities of the U.S. electoral system, but also by using their power in state legislatures to gerrymander legislative and congressional districts, and to restrict or discourage voting by Democratic blocs.

Reed said a large number of right-wing Republicans believe that no real American could have voted for Biden, and so the only way Biden could have voted is for the Democrats to have colluded with those who are not real Americans.

There are armed right-wing fanatics who say they are prepared for civil war.  Some of them the black flag of “no quarter,” meaning they intend to kill their enemies without mercy, along with the American flag.  

I don’t think there are a lot of them—far fewer, in fact, than turned out for the Black Lives Matter protests.  But it doesn’t take many to start something that will create an excuse for martial law.

The reason the possibility of an anti-democratic coup is being discussed at all is the failure of the U.S. democratic system is failing to stop American decline.  Americans are justifiably disillusioned with their government, which, for many, leads to the idea that government itself is the problem.  

Republicans such as Mitch McConnell use every constitutional and legal power to prevent the government from doing anything except wage war and help rich people.  Democrats such as Bill Clinton and Barack Obama turn their backs on their supporters.  

Reed, who is black, said “woke-ness” and identity politics divide American working people and help keep things as they are.  The present system can’t continue, he said; the future will be either right-wing authoritarianism or some form of democratic socialism.


Adolph Reed Jr. believes that, in order to save democracy, it is necessary to rally around President Biden, just as anti-Hitler Germans rallied around President Paul von Hindenburg.  But remember, in the end, it was Hindenburg who appointed Adolph Hitler as Chancellor.

History doesn’t repeat, but sometimes it rhymes.  Joe Biden is not a bulwark against authoritarianism.  He is aligned with the Pentagon, the intelligence community and the big business establishment in suppressing dissent.  

Glenn Greenwald has written a lot about this.  If the top MAGA Republicans don’t believe in a right to vote, the top Woke Democrats don’t believe in the right of free speech or due process of law.

I can understand people in Central Europe in the 1930s who didn’t believe in either Bolshevism or fascism, but felt they had to choose one or the other.

Deep down inside, I find it hard to imagine that life for people like me will not go on as it always has.  The known facts tell me it can’t.  But day to day, and even in my blog posts, I can’t help behaving and writing as it it will.  


The Whole Country Is the Reichstag, an interview of Adolph Reed Jr. by Paul Jay for, with transcript.

The Whole Country Is the Reichstag by Adolph Reed Jr. for

Are Your Republican Neighbors Planning on Killing You? by Michelle H. Davis for Living Blue in Texas.

Capitol Rioters in Jail’s ‘Patriot’ Wing Have Their Own Rituals and a Growing Fan Base by Tess Owen for Vice.

Citizens in Advanced Economies Want Significant Changes to Their Political Systems by Pew Research.

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4 Responses to “There really is a vast right-wing conspiracy”

  1. Fred (Au Natural) Says:

    “If the top MAGA Republicans don’t believe in a right to vote, the top Woke Democrats don’t believe in the right of free speech or due process of law.”

    Most people are neither MAGA nor Woke. One could envision a kind of war between two minority POVs while the center watches on in disbelief


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