Barton Gellman is a staff writer for The Atlantic. He is amazingly prescient. Right before the election of 2020, he wrote an ominous article speculating that Trump, if the election results were close, might refuse to concede. He foresaw the chaos that Trump would indeed unleash, undermining the integrity of the election, which is the central mechanism of democracy.

Now he has written an equally astonishing article in The Atlantic, in which he warns that “Trump’s Next Coup Has Already Begun.” He summarizes Trump’s strategy to overturn the election of 2020 by trying to persuade Republican legislatures to overturn the popular vote (if the Democratic candidate wins it) and submit slates of Trump electors for certification by Congress.

Trump put pressure on Republican state officials in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona, and Georgia to override the popular vote, but that didn’t work. Then he tried to stall the certification of the election on January 6 to buy time to get some of those states to withdraw their certification of Biden’s victory. One of his clown-car lawyers, Sidney Powell, appealed to Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito on January 5 to halt the official count the next day, hoping to buy time to turn a few states. And of course, Trump pressured Vice President Pence to stop the vote or allow Trump allies to filibuster the count.

The article may be behind a paywall. I subscribe to The Atlantic, so I don’t know. or, the magazine may allow you to read it for free.

Gellman analyzes the ideology of the Trump zealots. Their unifying bond is their belief that they (white patriots) are being replaced by non-whites and Jews. He calls it “The Great Replacement” and reminds us of the white nationalists and fascists who marched in Charlottesville and chanted, ”The Jews will not replace us.”

Gellman describes in detail the actions by Republican legislatures to take control of the vote in 2024, so there won’t be a repeat of 2020. The new laws allow the legislatures to ignore the popular vote and choose the electors themselves. So if a Democratic candidate wins a Republican controlled state, the legislature has given itself the power to choose electors who will cast the state’s electoral vote for the Republican candidate.

He sounds a warning:

A year ago I asked the Princeton historian Kevin Kruse how he explained the integrity of the Republican officials who said no, under pressure, to the attempted coup in 2020 and early ’21. “I think it did depend on the personalities,” he told me. “I think you replace those officials, those judges, with ones who are more willing to follow the party line, and you get a different set of outcomes.”

Today that reads like a coup plotter’s to-do list. Since the 2020 election, Trump’s acolytes have set about methodically identifying patches of resistance and pulling them out by the roots. Brad Raffensperger in Georgia, who refused to “find” extra votes for Trump? Formally censured by his state party, primaried, and stripped of his power as chief election officer. Aaron Van Langevelde in Michigan, who certified Biden’s victory? Hounded off the Board of State Canvassers. Governor Doug Ducey in Arizona, who signed his state’s “certificate of ascertainment” for Biden? Trump has endorsed a former Fox 10 news anchor named Kari Lake to succeed him, predicting that she “will fight to restore Election Integrity (both past and future!).” Future, here, is the operative word. Lake says she would not have certified Biden’s victory in Arizona, and even promises to revoke it (somehow) if she wins. None of this is normal.

Arizona’s legislature, meanwhile, has passed a law forbidding Katie Hobbs, the Democratic secretary of state, to take part in election lawsuits, as she did at crucial junctures last year. The legislature is also debating an extraordinary billasserting its own prerogative, “by majority vote at any time before the presidential inauguration,” to “revoke the secretary of state’s issuance or certification of a presidential elector’s certificate of election.” There was no such thing under law as a method to “decertify” electors when Trump demanded it in 2020, but state Republicans think they have invented one for 2024.

In at least 15 more states, Republicans have advanced new laws to shift authority over elections from governors and career officials in the executive branch to the legislature. Under the Orwellian banner of “election integrity,” even more have rewritten laws to make it harder for Democrats to vote. Death threats and harassment from Trump supporters have meanwhile driven nonpartisan voting administrators to contemplate retirement

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, excommunicated and primaried at Trump’s behest for certifying Biden’s victory, nonetheless signed a new law in March that undercuts the power of the county authorities who normally manage elections. Now a GOP-dominated state board, beholden to the legislature, may overrule and take control of voting tallies in any jurisdiction—for example, a heavily Black and Democratic one like Fulton County. The State Election Board can suspend a county board if it deems the board to be “underperforming” and replace it with a handpicked administrator. The administrator, in turn, will have final say on disqualifying voters and declaring ballots null and void. Instead of complaining about balls and strikes, Team Trump will now own the referee….

The Justice Department has filed suit to overturn some provisions of the new Georgia law—but not to challenge the hostile takeover of election authorities. Instead, the federal lawsuit takes issue with a long list of traditional voter-suppression tactics that, according to Attorney General Merrick Garland, have the intent and effect of disadvantaging Black voters. These include prohibitions and “onerous fines” that restrict the distribution of absentee ballots, limit the use of ballot drop boxes, and forbid handing out food or water to voters waiting in line. These provisions make it harder, by design, for Democrats to vote in Georgia. The provisions that Garland did not challenge make it easier for Republicans to fix the outcome. They represent danger of a whole different magnitude

There is a clear and present danger that American democracy will not withstand the destructive forces that are now converging upon it. Our two-party system has only one party left that is willing to lose an election. The other is willing to win at the cost of breaking things that a democracy cannot live without.

Democracies have fallen before under stresses like these, when the people who might have defended them were transfixed by disbelief. If ours is to stand, its defenders have to rouse themselves.

Please read this article.