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Thanks to Arizona voters for saving democracy, at least for the time being

What the Devil Won't Tell You

Thanks to Arizona voters for saving democracy, at least for the time being

Trumpist MAGA movement is still active & dangerous, but a little less so now

  • Arizona voters have taken punches over the decades but their vote in the midterms may have saved democracy in a very specific way.
    Gage Skidmore/FlickrArizona voters have taken punches over the decades but their vote in the midterms may have saved democracy in a very specific way.

As I sat down to my turkey this year, I had something serious to be thankful for and that's you, Arizona. You might have saved democracy in America.

My job kind of depends on it.

Voters here fixed bayonets and charged down Little Round Top, routing the rebel army right back toward the village of Gettysburg.

Is the fight over? No. But we ain't dead tomorrow and that's saying something in this cold-ish civil war we find ourselves battling.

In fact, we're OK in election 2024 and we're in good shape for 2026. That may be all we need.

The MAGA movement is still active and dangerous but a little less so on Nov. 23 than it was on Oct. 23.

Anyone else notice that the Republicans seem to be taking their dying "red wave" like real losers? Legislative Republicans are about ready to challenge Gov.-elect Katie Hobbs to a fist fight but they mean it in terms of the next lawmaking session as opposed to actual violence. They are digesting, rather than denying, the election results.

Attorney general candidate Abe Hamadeh is suing in court over the election results. That's not destroying democracy. That's his right as a citizen to seek redress in the courts. Same with failed gubernatorial candidate (boy, do I mean "failed") Kari Lake. She can sue. If she has proof she won and the courts find for her, well then she's governor. 

So far the best we've gotten out of her is a Tom Petty video. To invoke the song in question: A slot on FOX News is a pretty easy way out.

Does anyone think she's going to successfully storm the secretary of state's office with an army of supporters to overturn the election? No.

In fact, that was never again going to be the real threat to democracy.

Welcome to my nightmare

Let me lay out the worst-case scenario for you to understand why we should be celebrating.

It's an alternate universe where Democrats lost all over Arizona in 2022 but President Joe Biden wins Arizona again in 2024. Secretary of State Mark Finchem calls the results corrupt and, with Lake as governor and Hamadeh sitting as attorney general, refuses to sign off on the results. So the Legislature discards the vote and sends its own ballot of electors to Washington. 

Such a move could be aided by an upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case that might give legislatures unfettered powers to control federal elections and it would not be subject to even state law or a state supreme court's jurisdiction. The concept is called the "Independent State Legislature Doctrine" and WTDWTY readers were warned about it back in 2021.

But that isn't even the nightmare scenario we needed to fear.

The terrifying part would have come in 2026 after stealing the presidential election proved nothing more than a gateway drug to fascism.

Say lawmakers overturned a presidential election and suddenly started feeling a sense of impending doom from voters. Then they might go through with a proposal shopped in 2021 to give the Legislature the power to overturn election results up and down the board. They could overturn their own defeats.

A constitutional provision stipulates that the candidate with the most votes wins an election. That's legal votes. Guess who decides which votes are "legal?" The Legislature defines those terms.

Arizona could have been stuck with a Legislature and state leaders voters never again have the chance to turn out of office. Then lawmakers decide for voters who gets electoral votes, seats in congress or the U.S. Senate. An unaccountable Legislature then starts banning protests, a free press and rewriting history for classrooms. Militias begin enforcing state moral codes. Business owned by registered Democrats find themselves shut down for health code violations after MAGA competitors yelp about revenue lost to insufficiently patriotic proprietors. 

God only knows what QAnon would do if protected by the powers that rule.

Similar situations play out across the country. Suddenly unaccountable national politicians start denying military promotions to officers accused of being "woke." 

The Supreme Court? Team Trump would have the guns. They could break the court like stale bread.

That is the nightmare scenario. Republicans have been seeking the kind of power that always goes bad and ends in body counts.

The '22 cutoff

Well, guess what folks? 

Arizona voters just headed that crap off at the pass. 

The Legislature can't rewrite election laws now because Gov. Katie Hobbs would veto them.

Come 2024 and 2026, the Arizona elections will be overseen Secretary of State Adrian Fontes. The governor and attorney general also sign off as witness to the election results. That looks for all the world like it will be Democrat Kris Mayes.

Even if the U.S. Supreme Court gives the Legislature the power to set aside the popular presidential vote, they would have to face a free and fair election in 2026. Just questioning a presidential election cost Republicans the governor's seat, the secretary of state's office and the attorney general post.

If they go cmd-alt-delete on the voice of the people, they'll face a wave as if a comet hit an ocean.

Such a larceny would be the end of the Republican Party in Arizona. They best dare use whatever powers the Supreme Court gives them to bigfoot voters – not with a Legislative district map that has shown a navigable path for Democrats to take power.

Now, Republicans can straight up win in 2024. They may be a single crazy-ectomy away depending on exigent events between now and then. Donald Trump stands a reasonable chance of winning Arizona, outright if he learns some self control (chuckle, chuckle).

If he does then there will be no need for theft. Democracy lives along with accountability two years later.

What would happen now

The fact that you, Arizona voters, have a bow and quiver to the nose of the Legislature's prospects has national implications.

Permutations abound about what might happen in 2024 but let me lay out a highly likely one involving a straight up Biden victory resembling the one he secured in 2020. 

Say President Joe Biden wins with the same states he won in 2020. It's 303 electoral votes after the reapportionment. So he wins the swing states of Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Wisconsin. 

Trump could possibly (definitely) start pressing Republican legislatures to start flipping states to him. Republicans hold big legislative majorities in Georgia and Wisconsin thanks to Mr. Gerry Mander. They might look at pulling the trigger and making history. However, they have a problem the size of the Grand Canyon.

Those two legislatures might make a move but Biden would still stand at 277 electoral votes with 270 to win.

Lawmakers in the Badger and Peach states can't get help from Michigan or Pennsylvania. Democrats flipped the whole Michigan Legislature this year and will hold the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Neither will flip in 2024.

That leaves Arizona's 11 electoral votes and one-vote majorities in both houses. Suddenly any one of 47 Republicans at the State Capitol complex could sink the whole Trump scheme. That also means all of them will be responsible for what happens next if they actuate the plot.

And they know what happened in 2022. They know what would happen in 2026. They know the voters are watching.

Again, do they really want to run in 2026 accountable to every inevitable Trump misdeed and dirty deal because lawmakers put him there contrary to the wishes of the people? No way. Not after 2022.

Petty lives

So riddle me this: Why would Wisconsin or Georgia risk their own statewide comeuppance for years if stomping on voters in 2024 won't put Trump over the top because Arizona's Legislature is scared straight?

My guess is the national push to flip results would vanish like an Arizona dust devil. What can Trump offer state officials if he's relegated to retirement (or under house arrest) in Mar-a-Lago, Fla.? A surf and turf dinner and a seven iron?

I'm not just spitballing here. After a Democrat won the governorships of North Carolina and Wisconsin, those legislatures called a special session to pass pass laws revoking certain gubernatorial powers. An outgoing Republican governor signed those changes into law. 

So far, it's crickets on that front in Arizona. I don't believe for a second Republicans don't want to, I just think they are trying to act like good little boys and girls in front of voters.

A path to a 2024 steal is very likely to run through Arizona, where Trump would almost certainly find a dead end.

Another election loss and even Steve Bannon is going to be sick of the Madman across the Lago. Rudy Giuliani won't answers calls, purposefully or with his butt. 

That would be the end of the Donaldian nightmare we'll have have been living through for a decade. An America First agenda could stick around. A political realignment would likely remain in tact. Tucker Carlson ain't going anywhere. Yet the 45th president was uniquely shameless – almost in human history – enough to lead the land of the free toward true fascism.

I've long believed that the Florida Man will one day be what the Iraq War is to the GOP today. "Hey, it was never our idea. Hillary made us do it."

Another loss would make Trump a silly, pathetic old man.

The voters proved they are still in charge. They are still the sovereign. And Arizona ain't backing down.

Blake Morlock is an award-winning columnist, who worked in daily journalism for nearly 20 years and is the former communications director for the Pima County Democratic Party. Now he’s telling you things even the Devil won’t.

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