Gage Skidmore / Flickr donald trump...
Gage Skidmore / Flickr

In the months leading up to the 2016 election, conservative sites ran dozens of stories saying that President Barack Obama was planning some maneuver to stay in power. Either he would find a way around the 22nd Amendment and slip his name onto the ballot for a third time, or he would declare an emergency in which elections could be suspended, leaving Obama in office indefinitely.

While these nonsense stories were used to whip up fury on Trump-supporter sites before the election, now that the keys to the White House have changed hands, millions of Americans seem to be just fine with the idea of ditching democracy.

Claims of large-scale voter fraud are not true, but that has not stopped a substantial number of Republicans from believing them. But how far would Republicans be willing to follow the president to stop what they perceive as rampant fraud? Our recent survey suggests that the answer is quite far: About half of Republicans say they would support postponing the 2020 presidential election until the country can fix this problem.

Donald Trump has presented no evidence of voter fraud, but he has assembled a voting rights hit squaded up by voter suppression expert Kris Kobach. And while almost all states have refused to hand over the detailed personal information that Kobach and company want to optimize their suppression work, that doesn’t mean Trump can’t use that non-cooperation as an excuse to shut down elections. Because while Trump’s base may be shrinking, what that base believes is … unbelievable.

Nearly half of Republicans (47 percent) believe that Trump won the popular vote, which is similar to this finding. Larger fractions believe that millions of illegal immigrants voted (68 percent) and that voter fraud happens somewhat or very often (73 percent). 

Of course, Trump has plenty of examples to follow. Role-model Vladimir Putin has been in power for 15 years and recently indicated he might just hang onto this gig.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday that he might decide to stay in office for life.

“I have not yet decided yet whether I will leave the post of the president or not,” Putin said on Friday during a question-and-answer session with students in Sochi.

And why should Putin leave? He has not just Russia but oligarchs from a good portion of the former Soviet Union channeling money his way, and many of them are already sitting on their own personal Iron Thrones. The whole pretense of democracy is fading in Eastern Europe, with Poland drifting the same way and white nationalists everywhere cheering.

Since coming to power in 2015, the right-wing Law and Justice party (PiS in Polish) has been weakening democratic checks and balances. …

PiS came to power promising change after eight years in opposition. Shortly before the elections, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, its divisive leader, called for “a reconstruction of the state”. In practice, that has meant subordinating it to PiS. The party has used its majority in parliament to push through controversial laws, though it does not have enough seats to formally change the constitution. The prime minister, Beata Szydlo, has little clout. From PiS’s headquarters in Warsaw, Mr Kaczynski pulls the strings.

Trump visited Poland to praise its new leadership, and Poland showed their respect by passing new anti-democratic measures. If that kind of party over nation—over the whole founding idea of the nation—seems like something that couldn’t happen here, it’s not.

52 percent [of Republicans] said that they would support postponing the 2020 election, and 56 percent said they would do so if both Trump and Republicans in Congress were behind this.

The only good news here is that the number of people willing to give up that nasty voting habit is almost exactly equal to those who still trust most of what they hear from the Trump White House. And that number is shrinking.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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