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Video by Johnny Harris and Michelle Cottle

Mr. Harris is a video journalist. Ms. Cottle is a member of the editorial board.


For the past two years, Americans have been overwhelmed by a deluge of headlines suggesting democracy in the United States is under threat: Voter suppression. A shortage of drop boxes. Election deniers seeking key state offices. It can be difficult to gauge what stories suggest a truly terrifying threat to democracy, and which are simply disheartening or even petty. The Opinion Video film above aims to unpack one of the most dire threats to democracy, which includes a sophisticated plot to control not only who can vote, but which votes get counted.

One thing is certain: The 2020 race was not stolen. But Mr. Trump and his Republican enablers have been working to rig future elections to their advantage. (Of course it’s the people shrieking most loudly about fraud that you really need to watch.) The former president has convinced his followers that the electoral system has been so corrupted that the only way to save America is for MAGA patriots to take over the system to ensure that the “right” candidates win going forward. His allies have been busy engineering such a legal takeover, and key pieces of the plan are already in place.

In this short film, we shine a light on those machinations, so that those who care about democracy can act to stop them.

For our Democracy to survive, we need to agree on a shared reality and for the losers — that is those who lose in honest and fair elections — to accept defeat.



Junior more than likely had his tuition to the University of Pennsylvania paid in full by his billionaire dad, allowing him to focus on more pressing issues like earning the nickname “Diaper Don.”


AUGUST 25, 2022

Image may contain Human Person Audience Crowd Electrical Device Microphone Speech Donald Trump Jr. and Clothing

As you’ve no doubt heard by now, on Wednesday, Joe Biden announcedthat the government will forgive up to $20,000 in federal student loans for Americans making under $125,000 a year individually, or $250,000 a year as a married couple. While the move is projected to overwhelmingly benefit the middle class—the White House estimates that almost 90% of the relief will go toward people earning less than $75,000 annually—Republican lawmakers reacted to the news as though Biden had declared that starting Friday, members of his Secret Service detail will be going house-to-house to shoot blue-collar workers in the face. Also having a meltdown about the whole thing? Donald Trump Jr., who we’re guessing has never had to live under the weight of crushing educational debt on account of the whole born-with-a-silver-spoon-in-his-ass business.

“Canceling student debt is a tax on the most responsible people in the country,” Junior, whose tuition to the University of Pennsylvania was presumably footed in full by his father, tweeted on Wednesday. (At Penn, my colleague Emily Jane Foxreported in her book, Born Trump, the ex-president’s namesake was nicknamed “Diaper Don,” on account of the frequency with which he would get drunk and wake up in strangers’ beds “covered in piss.”) He similarly suggested that the loan forgiveness plan is ”nurturing incompetence and irresponsible behavior while penalizing hard work and fiscal responsibility,” asking, “How long can this continue before we collapse as a society and a nation?” (As Don is presumably unaware, many countries actually allow their citizens to go to college for free and are somehow doing just fine.) Responding to Congresswoman Cori Bush’s statement about the startling disparity between the debt held by Black borrowers versus white ones, the ex-president’s eldest son sneered that Biden’s loan program “discriminate[s]” against “Those that saved their money, skipped cool toys/trips and already paid their debts” and “those that went to work rather than getting a $300K gender studies degree.” (For those of you keeping up at home, the “gender studies” line is a popular one among the MAGA crowd.)

Of course, Junior himself did not have to worry about the cost of college because he was born into generational wealth, at least some of which was allegedly accrued through outright fraud. Nor has he ever had to worry about money in general, given that he’s worked for the company owned by his father since he was in his early 20s and, as of 2019, was reportedly worth an estimated $25 million.

Speaking of Donny’s dad, before he became president, Trump the elder was probably best known for basically never paying his debts, with his businesses filing for bankruptcy a whopping six times. And not only did he habitually not pay back his loans, he was deeply proud of it. After The New York Times revealed that the real estate developer had $287 million in debt forgiven by lenders—after he went into default—Trump tweeted that getting out of paying what he owed made him a “smart guy.” Which begs the question, is Trump, in little Donny’s mind, an irresponsible deadbeat? Or is it simply that it’s okay for the very wealthy catch a break, but the middle class, not so much?


By Andy Borowitz … Satire from the Borowitz Report

August 17, 2022

Rudy Giuliani.

CHEYENNE, WYOMING (The Borowitz Report)—Donald J. Trump became enraged after a visibly inebriated Rudolph Giuliani held a press conference in which he called the G.O.P. primary in Wyoming “rigged” and demanded a recount.

Trump had been celebrating the defeat of his nemesis, Representative Liz Cheney, when Giuliani popped up on TV, claiming “widespread fraud and abuse” in the Wyoming vote.

Giuliani, wobbling from side to side and slurring his words, made the allegations in the parking lot of Ritz-Carlton Total Cattle Feed, an establishment on the outskirts of Cheyenne.

As the former mayor of New York spewed his tirade, Trump threw a bottle of ketchup at the TV screen, turning Guiliani’s televised image into a hideous mélange of dripping red condiment and dark-brown hair dye.

Reportedly, the former President is now hoping that Georgia’s probe of the 2020 election will result in legal jeopardy for his erstwhile attorney. “Lock him up,” Trump was heard muttering.


By Colbert I. King

Opinion Columnist

August 19, 2022

In November 1991, I stood in the packed, smoke-filled American Legion hall in the nearly all-White New Orleans suburb of Metairie. A day later in Baton Rouge, I watched a chilling development unfold on election night.

In Metairie, White men and women in their 20s, 30s and 40s, some decked out in campaign T-shirts and hats, whooped up a storm for the demagogic, ex-Klansman Republican David Duke, who was then running for governor. In Baton Rouge, coiffured senior citizens in suits and ties and cocktail dresses mingled with people clad in jeans and cowboy boots to cheer on the same racist bigot and antisemite. But those things weren’t the shocker.

Thanks to a phenomenal Black voter turnout, Duke lost in a landslide to Democratic Gov. Edwin Edwards. But Duke was able to claim the title of the voice of Louisiana’s White majority. The searing takeaway was not Duke himself, but nearly 700,000 Louisianans who, knowing what he stood for, voted for him anyway.

On Sept. 30, 2016, after closely watching nearly two years of Donald Trump’s primary and general election campaigns, I wrote about the dangers of his winning. He had been revealed as an ignorant, undisciplined, ranting bully who exaggerated and lied without shame. His tough-guy masculinity was fakery. Trump was a coward, I said at the time, who picks on women, demeans people of color and is thoroughly lacking in human decency.

“What does sicken and alarm, and what ought to concentrate African American minds, is the thought of Trump with the powers of the presidency in his hands. Therein lies the danger.”

The upshot?

On Election Day 2016, nearly 63 million Americans voted for Trump, giving him more than 300 electoral votes and the White House. The takeaway? They, too, knew where he stood and voted for him anyway.

Four years later, the impeached, scandal-scarred president went before the American people once again. By then, Trump was known all too well. In his losing bid for reelection, Trump attracted 74.2 million votes.

So, it comes as no surprise — deep disappointment, yes; a jolt, no — that Trump’s foremost Republican critic, Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.), would get a thrashing at the polls in 2022, losing renomination by 37 points to Trump devotee Harriet Hageman. Wyoming Republicans knew where Trump stood on Cheney.

The story is the same in Arizona, where Kari Lake narrowly won the Republican primary for governor, Blake Masters prevailed in the Senate GOP primary and Mark Finchem took the Republican nomination for secretary of state. Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers went down in flames in a state Senate primary for the same reason. Voters knew where Trump stood on all four: Up with Lake, Masters and Finchem; down with Bowers, who resisted efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election and told the House Jan. 6 committee all about it.

So it has played out in Republican House, Senate and gubernatorial primaries in Michigan, Washington state, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio, West Virginia and Maryland, where Trumpist Dan Coxwon the Republican nomination for governor.

This is not a recital of complaints about Donald Trump. It’s about people by the millions who know where Trump stands and slavishly side with him anyway.

Trump holds cultlike control over Republican voters. They aren’t blank slates. They know what the struggle for economic and racial justice is about. They know, too, what Democrats are talking about when they go on about expanding access to health care and reducing prescription drug prices, or confronting the climate crisis, or advancing racial and gender equity, or treating immigrants with dignity and decency. And they know what they don’t like about any of that “liberal” or “progressive” stuff, including those proposing it.

So, when it comes to elections, bear in mind what’s really at stake. Donald Trump’s name will not appear on any midterm election ballot.

The challenge is to turn out more voters who want the country to keep moving forward and upward than voters bent on empowering candidates to stand in for Trump and all he represents.

That kind of test was there with Duke in Louisiana. Also in 2020, when Trumpism was met head-on and taken down. And it will happen again in the midterms, and again in the 2024 elections. Concentrate on where the battle belongs, not in debates about noxious Trump and his legions of worshipers, but where political conflicts and engagements get decided — at the ballot box.

The alternative is almost too dreadful to imagine.