In the past week I have had three very smart people who I respect (two have Ph.Ds) give credence to a story circulating among some conservative politicians in Washington. The story goes something like this: Hillary Clinton is very sick–perhaps deadly sick. If she is elected POTUS and cannot serve, Barack Obama will try to b bring stability to the nation, possibly declare martial law, and remain in office for a third term.
What makes smart people believe these stories and what does it say about American democracy? Over at The Washington Post Paul Waldman wonders if “something extraordinary” is happening. Here is a taste of his article:
I know, my conservative friends will say that this kind of talk is just fear-mongering and exaggeration. But there is something deeply troubling happening right now, and it goes beyond the ordinary trading of blows in a campaign season. Consider these recent developments:
- There appears to be a war going on inside the FBI, and from what we can tell, a group of rogue agents, mostly in New York, may be in such a fervor to destroy Hillary Clinton that they may be aggressively leaking damaging innuendo to the press against her in the waning days of the campaign. They succeeded in their apparent goal of making FBI director James Comey a tool of their campaign — and the basis for their investigation is an anti-Clinton book written under the auspices of an organization of which the CEO of the Trump campaign is co-founder and chairman. Pro-Trump FBI agents now seem to be coordinating with Trump surrogates to do maximal possible damage to Clinton.
- Republicans continue to cheer the fact that the electronic systems of American political groups were illegally hacked, and then private communications were selectively released in order to do damage to one side in this election. The Republican nominee has explicitly asked a hostile foreign power to hack into his opponent’s electronic systems.
- High-ranking Republican officeholders are now suggesting that they may impeach Clinton as soon as she takes office. These are not just backbench nutbars of the Louie Gohmert variety, but people with genuine power, including Ron Johnson, the senator from Wisconsin,Michael McCaul, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, and veteran legislators like James Sensenbrenner and Peter King. The message is being echoed by top Trump surrogates like Rudy Giuliani.
- There is a growing movement among Republicans in the Senate to simply refuse to approve any nominee appointed by a Democratic president to the Supreme Court, leaving open any and all vacancies until a Republican can be elected to fill them.
- State and local Republican officials are engaged in widespread and systematic efforts to suppress the votes of African-Americans and other groups likely to vote disproportionately Democratic; in many cases officials have been ordered by courts to stop their suppression efforts and they have simply ignored the court orders.
- Republican elected officials increasingly feel emboldened to openlysuggest violence against Clinton should she be elected.
It is important to understand that is not normal. This is not just bare-knuckle politics. Something extraordinary is happening.
Read the entire article here.