“We are in an epic struggle,” longtime Donald Trump adviser Roger Stone said during a recent speech on the Reawaken America tour. He added:
This is not a struggle between two different political parties that both love America, but just have different governing philosophies. This is a struggle between dark and light. This is a struggle between the godly and the godless. This is a struggle between good and evil. And if we fail, America will step off into a thousand years of darkness.
In 2019, Stone, who has clear ties to rightist groups like the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys, “was found guilty of witness tampering, obstructing a congressional investigation, and lying to the U.S. government with relation to Russian dealings in the 2016 presidential election,” Newsweek said in a July 19 story. “In July 2020, then-President Trump commuted Stone’s sentence right before he was scheduled to begin his 40-month imprisonment.”
Retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, the former Trump administration national security adviser who is a regular speaker on the Reawaken America tour along with Stone, recently made headlines for saying that the US should be like Myanmar and overthrow democracy with a military dictatorship. He made the statement during a Q & A session at the “For God & Country Patriot Roundup,” a QAnon grifter confab held in Dallas. After an anonymous Marine stepped up to the microphone and innocently said, “I want to know why what happened in Minamar can’t happen here,” Flynn replied: “No reason. I mean, it should happen here.”
Not coincidentally, Trump also gave Flynn a Get Out of Jail Free card. Trump’s pardon of Michael Flynn “includes an extremely broad reprieve from any possible crimes he might have committed connected to special counsel Robert Mueller’s two-year investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election,” Politico reported last November 30.
I say not coincidentally because Stone and Flynn — along with Steve Bannon, who Trump also granted a last-minute pardon — are central figures in the January 6 “Stop the Steal” event that ended with the riot at the US Capitol that left five people dead.
Stop the Steal, incidentally, didn’t begin with Trump’s loss in the 2020 election. Its origins can be traced to a Roger Stone plan to contest a Hillary Clinton victory in 2016, which Trump’s camp believed would happen up until Election Day. that never manifested. “Stone created the group to uncover voter fraud, which experts say is not a significant problem in US elections,” the Southern Poverty Law Center said in this report.
But the real goal of Stop the Steal is not just to promote the false idea that Trump and other Republican candidates lost elections because of voter fraud. It’s to discredit US elections in general because the GOP — now a crackpot party far to the right of most voters — increasingly is unable to compete and win in national races, most importantly the presidency.
Republican candidates have lost the popular vote in 7 of the last 8 elections going back to 1992 — the exception was 2004 when George W. Bush was elected to a second term, defeating hapless John Kerry — and Trump was steamrolled twice, first by nationally despised Hillary Clinton and second, in 2020, by Joe Biden, who was already showing clear signs of senility that have only worsened since. The only reason Trump could plausibly claim he won either election is because of the idiotic Electoral College.
It’s easy to make fun of the January 6 rioters and discount what happened that day because photos of the event and ensuing riot, which are indelibly etched in our collective memory, make it appear that a group of obvious mental cases organized and carried out the event.
I’d note here that much of the top Nazi leadership were deranged lunatics and would have been confined to mental institution in normal times but a fluke of history allowed them to seize power, as Erik Larson has detailed in his great book In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin. I’d also note here that just as the Nazi leadership manipulated and exploited genuinely aggrieved street rabble, today’s GOP leaders and apparatchiks do the same. I’d further note that the names Himmler, Goebbels and Goering match up rather well, in no particular order, with the names Stone, Flynn and Bannon.
Let’s step back for a minute and look at what led directly to the Capitol riots. “The assault that unfolded as Congress convened a joint session to certify the victory of Joe Biden in the 2020 election was the direct result of a months-long effort rooted in disinformation; promoted by President Donald Trump; coordinated by some of his most fervent, conspiratorial supporters; and incorporating a wide range of supporting groups,” this report says.
More specifically, the origins of January 6 can be traced to a series of trial run events around the country organized by Stone and Stop the Steal. On the day of the event, organizers had orchestrated a well designed plan to bus in supporters from those satellite cities. Who actually funded the event is still shrouded in mystery.
Members of the rightist militia Oath Keepers turned out in military gear, marched in formation and served as Stone’s bodyguards. Take a look at images of Stone on January 6. He generally kept his distance from the event and riots, but looks like a mafia don who showed up, because he couldn’t help himself, to see the results of his handiwork.
Again, one can discount what happened on January 6, but it is probably more accurately seen as a narrow miss. As Congress was being escorted out one door of the Capitol building, a mob was battling police at another door. If not for the police, it’s absolutely clear very bad things would have happened. Only idiots like Glenn Greenwald and Michael Tracey can pretend that Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, to cite an obvious example, would not have faced a potentially fatal threat if rioters had come across her.
It also seems apparent that some of the rioters had plans for serious mayhem, including assassinations. Within the larger crowed there were various small crowds at the riot — i.e. the Oath Keepers — who were well trained and capable of carrying out an effective military action.
While the January 6 riots may look like a failure for organizers, they achieved their broad objective of discrediting the 2020 vote — which Trump, I’ll emphasize again, lost by a landslide in the popular vote and by a comfortable margin in the Electoral College — and US elections in general.
Doing so is vital to the GOP, because the rabid loons who control it can’t win elections legitimately. When they claim Democrats can only win via fraud, they are merely projecting their own fears and reality. The extremism of the Republican Party and demographics have rendered the GOP a dying entity. The old, reliable tricks, pioneered by Stone, Lee Atwater and other dark arts practitioners, including causing divisions by exploiting racism, sexism and homophobia, generate diminishing returns and no longer work outside of rural areas in a decreasing number of dark red states. Meanwhile, Black and Hispanic voters make up a majority or a near majority of voters in California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and increasingly contested Texas. Black voters alone play a critical role in Deep South states that were once GOP bastions, with Georgia being Exhibit A here but Mississippi, Alabama and South Carolina also worth looking at.
Hence, the problem for the contemporary GOP is how to compete politically. Their answer is to discredit the electoral process, with Stop the Steal and Trump’s pardoned cronies Stone, Flynn and Bannon doing the heavy lifting. Democrats make up an increasing share of the electorate and turn out in heavy numbers so your party’s candidates have a harder and harder time winning office? No problem. Just endlessly repeat, without evidence, that the “surge” in Democratic turnout results from vote fraud, as opposed to a demographic shift that is easily proven.
This, in the end, explains the Stop the Steal movement and also why Stone, Flynn and Bannon are so critical to it. It also explains the ravings of former President Trump. I’ll close this story with a section of a speech he gave over the weekend to a group called Turning Point Action in Arizona. Can’t figure out what the hell he’s talking about? That’s understandable. For the full story click here.
“The county has, for whatever reason, also refused to produce the network routers. We want the routers, Sonny, Wendy, we got to get those routers, please. The routers. Come on, Kelly, we can get those routers. Those routers. You know what? We’re so beyond the routers, there’s so many fraudulent votes without the routers. But if you got those routers, what that will show, and they don’t want to give up the routers. They don’t want to give them. They are fighting like hell. Why are these commissioners fighting not to give the routers?”