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3 scholars say Trump isn’t staging a coup — but he still poses a threat to democracy

by Nicole [email protected] | Story Source    Sunday November 15, 2020 - 12:25 AM
POLITICS
* Failure To Concede *
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3 scholars say Trump isn’t staging a coup — but he still poses a threat to democracy
It's been a week since President-elect Joe Biden's supporters danced in the streets of cities across the US after every major news organization called the race in his favor. But their sense of relief at President Donald Trump's loss has been replaced with uncertainty as Trump tries to sow public distrust in the result and overturn it, testing the limits of America's democratic norms and institutions.

Trump has refused to concede, falsely claiming that there was widespread voter fraud and that the election has been "stolen" from him. He also filed a slew of lawsuits challenging election practices in Pennsylvania, Nevada, Arizona, Georgia, and Michigan — all states that the president needed in order to secure a second term, but that Biden ultimately won.

Republicans in the Senate — with the exception of Sens. Mitt Romney, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and Ben Sasse — have yet to acknowledge Biden's win. Some, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have emphasized, with carefully chosen language, the president's right to pursue legal challenges to supposed voting irregularities leading up to mid-December when the states' electors formally choose the president. But others, including Sen. Lindsey Graham, have amplified Trump's false claims of widespread voter fraud.

One senior Republican official told the Washington Post that the party is merely "humoring" Trump's bruised ego without seriously contending that the result could change. Others have argued that it is merely a ploy to preserve their chances at reelection by currying favor with the president's base and to keep Republican voters engaged ahead of two Senate runoffs in Georgia that could decide which party controls the chamber.

Trump appeared to acknowledge at least the possibility of defeat Friday during his first press conference since losing the election: "Who knows what administration it will be?" he said. "Time will tell."

But Trump's false rhetoric, and Republicans' echoes of it, has real impact: Most Republican voters don't believe that this was a free and fair election despite no evidence to the contrary.

t has a lot of Americans wondering: Is the US facing an attempt at a coup d'état, and could it be successful? Here's what three political scientists who have studied coups in different parts of the world say. (Their comments are lightly edited for length and clarity.)

Latin America expert Michael Albertus, associate professor of political science at the University of Chicago:

I don't think "coup" is the right term, but neither is alarm over the situation unwarranted. A coup typically connotes a violent takeover of government, often by the military. Trump is instead trying to ...

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