In Defying the Odds, we discuss the 2016 campaign, where Trump suggested that he would not acknowledge defeat. His legal challenges to the election of Joseph Biden have toggled between appalling and farcical. But his base continues to believe the bogus narrative.
Technically, what Trump attempted is what’s known as a “self-coup” and Trump isn’t the first leader to try it. Charles Louis Napoleon Bonaparte (nephew of the first Napoleon) pulled one off in France in December 1851 to stay in power beyond his term. Then he declared himself Emperor, Napoleon III. More recently, Nicolas Maduro perpetrated a self-coup in Venezuela after losing the 2017 elections.The storming of the Capitol building on January 6 was the culmination of a series of actions and events taken or instigated by Trump so he could retain the presidency that together amount to an attempt at a self-coup. This was not a one-off or brief episode. Trump declared “election fraud” immediately on November 4 even while the votes were still being counted. He sought to recount and rerun the election so that he, not Joe Biden, was the winner. In Turkey, in 2015, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan successfully did the same thing; he had called elections to strengthen his presidency, but his party lost its majority in the Parliament. He challenged the results in the courts, marginalized the opposition and forced what he blatantly called a “re-run election.” He tried again in the Istanbul mayoral election in 2019 but was thwarted.
There’s a standard coup “checklist” analysts use to evaluate coups. We can evaluate Trump’s moves to prevent the peaceful transfer of executive power against it. To successfully usurp or hold power, you need to control the military and paramilitary units, communications, the judiciary, government institutions, and the legislature; and mobilize popular support.
"Cheney understands this may well be the last chance to stop the GOP from sliding into Trumpist authoritarianism...it is not too late to clearly set a historic marker that his brand of demagogue must never again hold the highest office in the land." https://t.co/CU307xeTLm— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) January 13, 2021