Allan Dodds Frank


The Yogi Berra Election, the Real Stakes on Nov. 8

By Allan Dodds Frank

If Yogi Berra’s “It ain’t over, ‘til it’s over” ever applied to presidential elections, this would be the year.

Every day, the most consequential presidential campaign in my lifetime becomes darker as the fight for control of the U.S. Senate grows ever more important.

Our democracy, even more than the control of the Supreme Court, is what is most at risk. The media and voters need to demand answers before Election Day from Congressional Republicans about their concealed plan to steal the election after the fact.

Donald Trump’s “rigged election” rhetoric casting doubt on the legitimacy of the presidential election is a cynical act to lay the ground work for what will come next if Hillary Clinton is elected and the Republicans manage to retain control of Congress.

The “Lock Her Up” chants he solicits at his rallies are meant to justify the lynch mob rationale being fomented by the “alt. right=Hate Right” Republicans. Trump and the Republican leadership believe that repetition of phrases such as “Crooked Hillary” substitutes adequately for legitimate facts.

Forget about polls showing Hillary Clinton in the lead and projecting her as the President-elect for a four-year term.

Make no mistake: if the Republicans carry the Congress, there will be an immediate effort to thwart the election results by trying to impeach President-elect Hillary Clinton. The Republicans, heavily financed by special interests, will do their utmost to steamroller the will of the people. This is the “rigging” that should terrify us all. It would be a coup by Congress.

The specter of the dark shadow will pass from Trump, the losing Republican nominee, to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

McConnell has been lying low, but after the election, he will suddenly be in the forefront of the battle more than will House Speaker Paul “Damaged Goods” Ryan, who, if he is not forced out of his position, will take his cues from McConnell.

McConnell is not up for re-election this year and therefore is not immediately subject to voters who think the Kentucky Republican’s last eight years of “service” have been despicable. He single-mindedly has devoted his leadership to destroying trust in the government by opposing everything the nation’s first black president has been trying to accomplish. The Koch Brothers could not be more delighted with McConnell’s corrosion of the people’s faith in the legislative process.

For nearly a year, McConnell has circumvented democracy by not even allowing a hearing, let alone a vote, on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merritt Garland.

If Clinton is elected, the first showdown with McConnell may come if the Republican Majority Leader decides that he will continue his 11-month blockade of Garland, a respected judicial centrist who is 63-years-old.

If McConnell forces President-elect Clinton to withdraw President Obama’s nominee, I wonder if he may try to continue his freeze on the nomination process for another two years as the Republican plot to oust Hillary Clinton unfolds.

Perhaps he will roll over for round one, once President-elect Clinton threatens to nominate a 45-year-old lesbian to the Court instead of Garland, as New Yorker and CNN Legal correspondent Jeffrey Toobin humorously suggested during a speech recently. With three justices possibly ready to depart the bench in the next four years, the Supreme Court will be close to the paramount battle.

But, if the Republicans hold onto the Senate and the House, I foresee a much scarier scenario that will subjugate the court battle to a Republican war intent on destroying the Hillary Clinton Presidency before it begins.

All the nastiness surrounding Hillary’s emails was orchestrated by right wing Republicans for reasons even more nefarious than trying to smear Clinton enough to cost her the election. That holds for their impugning the “no grounds for prosecution” finding by FBI director James Comey, who incidentally is a Republican appointed by a Republican President.

Much of the dirty work was done in the House of Representatives where right wing hardliners on various subcommittees labored mightily to gin up grounds for investigations and possible criminal charges.

Try as he might, after eight investigations and millions of taxpayer dollars, Rep. Harold Watson “Trey” Gowdy of South Carolina and his House Select Committee failed to pin legal culpability on Mrs. Clinton for the State Department’s conduct with regard to the 2012 attack on the U. S. Ambassador in Benghazi, Libya. Testing the former Secretary of State’s stamina, Gowdy had Mrs. Clinton on the witness stand for 11 hours, hoping for her to slip-up in cross-examination in order to lay the grounds for some future charge of lying to Congress.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah and House Judiciary Chairman Robert Goodlatte, R-Va., quickly asked the U.S. Attorney in the District of Columbia to begin a criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton for perjury before Congress. Remarks critical of Clinton made by Comey also were cited as evidence of perjury.

Most important though, the Republican congressmen are determined to refute Comey’s declaration that: “Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.”

If any Republican congressional candidates have been challenged publicly about their plans to attempt to impeach President-elect Clinton, their answers - if they exist - have not made any national headlines. Nor has anyone asked the top Tea Party man, Republican Vice Presidential nominee Mike Pence, about whether he would support impeachment of Clinton.

It is time to demand answers – and for Democrats to make clear that the same Republican operatives engaged in voter suppression operations have no limits on their efforts to disenfranchise Clinton voters. Indeed, they may even be behind the efforts to hack ballot boxes and voter tabulations. But that is retail thievery, so look ahead to the wholesale attempt to force impeachment on the country.

In every race, Democrats need to highlight now why voting against Republicans up and down the ticket is so vital. By bringing the threat of the Republicans’ end game to the forefront, the paralysis might still be averted. Clinton’s surrogates must enlighten the public about what is really at stake in the races for Senate and House seats. Only a Democratic sweep can prevent the ongoing disruption the country and the destruction of our ballot-driven democracy.