A 20-Year-Old GOP Strategy Drew the Road Map for Trump’s Attempted Coup
Why George W. Bush succeeded where Trump failed
Over the past five weeks, Donald Trump has led a series of bumbling, incompetent, and spectacularly unsuccessful efforts to undo the results of an election he has clearly and decisively lost.
His increasingly unhinged attempts have sparked a wave of apprehension. Pundits have thrown around terms like coup, autogolpe (Spanish for “soft coup”), and sedition to describe his actions.
Writing in The Atlantic, Zeynep Tufecki captured the sentiments of many when she argued that Trump is “establishing a playbook for stealing elections by mobilizing executive, judicial, and legislative power to support the attempt.” A smarter politician will have greater success, or so the argument goes.
But, in reality, that playbook is well-established and has already been executed.
It was 20 years ago this week that the Supreme Court issued its decision in Bush v. Gore, effectively handing the presidency to George W. Bush for an election he quite likely did not win.
The 2000 election was the most contested and narrowly decided presidential vote in more than 120 years. Bush lost the popular vote by half a million votes to his opponent, Vice President Al Gore, and his margin of victory in the decisive state of Florida was a mere 537 votes.
It’s almost certain that more people in Florida intended to vote for Gore, and had all the state’s votes been counted, Democrats would have kept control of the White House. But due to an aggressive, take-no-prisoners approach by Republicans, as well as the unprecedented intervention of the United States Supreme Court, the doomsaying predictions of 2020 came true two decades ago.
In 2000 in Florida, minority votes were systematically suppressed, in part through the use of a so-called felon list that kept tens of thousands of Black voters from casting a ballot because of past criminal convictions but also included an estimated 20,000 wrongly included names. In Florida, typically more than 85% of Black voters vote Democratic in presidential elections (it was 89% this year). More than 50% of the names on the felon list were Black.