Opinion | Campaign

Juan Williams: GOP preparing the ground to steal an election

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We need to talk about Jan. 6.

I'm talking about Jan. 6, 2025.

That's when the U.S. Congress will meet to certify the winner of the 2024 presidential election.

"How to Get Away With Murder" was a recent TV crime show. As the 2024 race approaches, the Trump-GOP's current weekly drama is titled "How to Get Away with Murdering Democracy."

Step One - Don't mention Jan. 6, 2021. If it comes up, say Trump's violent radicals did not stop certification of President Biden's win over Trump. It was just like a "tourist visit," according to one GOP congressman, Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.). Too bad for him he was photographed that day with a look of terror on his face.

Next, prevent a bipartisan, independent commission from looking into the violent Republican riot.

Twist the arms of the honest Republicans left on Capitol Hill by scaring them with previews of the commission's probable findings and the damage those stories could do to the party's efforts to regain control of the House, Senate and White House.

Step Two - Change election laws in states with GOP-majority legislatures. New laws in Georgia, for example, take power away from independent election boards and the secretary of state to certify election results.

Georgia's new laws give unprecedented power to the Republican legislature to determine the winner of the 2024 election. They can override local and state election officials in certifying votes.

In 2020, the Georgia secretary of state - a Republican, Brad Raffensperger - defied Trump's demand to "find" enough votes to make him the winner of the presidential race. Raffensperger or his successor will not have that power come 2024.

Step Three - Suppress the votes of people who are unlikely to back Republicans: young people, college-educated whites, poor people, union members, working women, Blacks, Latinos and Asians.

Republicans are taking this last step nationwide by having state legislatures weaken voting rights laws.

In Texas, for example, the GOP has proposed a change so that "clear and convincing evidence" of fraud is no longer needed for a judge to deny certification of an election's outcome.

Generally, GOP-led state legislatures are curtailing early voting and limiting mail and drive-up voting. They are also eliminating or decreasing the use of drop boxes.

On Capitol Hill, congressional Republicans now make a practice of excommunicating any Republican who is not willing to go along with Trump's "Big Lie," the false claim that the election was stolen.

The best example is Rep. Liz Cheney (R- Wyo.). For refusing to buy into the lie, she lost her leadership post.

Shunning honest Republicans is required to retain solidarity among the 147 congressional Republicans who agreed to the "Big Lie" by voting against certifying Biden's win in 2020.

The message to congressional Republicans is that they will be free to defy their constitutional oath again, and undermine the 2024 election without any consequences, if they just stick together.

Any Republican looking to run for president is also being told to hold on to the "Big Lie."

Mike Pence, the former vice president, was threatened on Jan. 6 by insurrectionists chanting that they wanted to hang him.

But he now downplays the threat, dismissing it by simply saying he and Trump will never "see eye-to-eye on that day."

Pence is living proof that any prominent Republican who even thinks of standing apart from Trump's lies will be left in no man's land.

This pressure for GOP politicians to choose silence in turn enables conservative media to continue to tell voters that the election was stolen, without fear of contradiction from within party ranks.

They keep trumpeting the "Big Lie" despite the fact that election officials and more than 50 judges have failed to find evidence of fraud. Trump's former attorney general, William Barr, could not find evidence of voter fraud - even under pressure from the then-president's chief of staff.

It is stunningly sad that a Yahoo News-YouGov poll released last week found that 64 percent of Republicans continue to believe that the 2020 election was "rigged and stolen from Trump."

Corporate America is in the same boat. Citigroup, a major banker that halted political funding after the Jan. 6 attack, now says it will resume making donations, including being open to giving money to the Republicans who tried to override the results of the last election.

The final plank in the GOP plan for Jan. 6, 2025, is to stop Biden from achieving any legislative act to move the country forward.

Biden passed the COVID-19 relief bill without Republican votes. Republicans are now standing in the way of Biden's plan to improve and increase jobs. The GOP is offering no reasonable alternative.

Again, the Republicans' focus is solely on regaining political power. They have no agenda for helping the country.

They are totally focused on Jan. 6, 2025.

Meanwhile, Trump is reportedly saying he expects to be "reinstated" as president by August - a claim founded on falsehoods, and for which there is, in any event, no mechanism.

This combination of lies and political bluffs is like a poltergeist, an evil force, in control of a dead body - the cult that was once the Republican Party.

To paraphrase former Rep. Barney Frank's (D-Mass.) quip about the Tea Party, it seems as if half the Republican caucus agrees with Trump-QAnon followers like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), and the other half is afraid of being primaried by such people.

People who love America need to face this threat to democracy and act with urgency. 

Juan Williams is an author, and a political analyst for Fox News Channel.

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