[ this post has updates where noted ]

Remember the quaint, waning days of 2016, when all we had to kvetch about was how the media screwed up election coverage?

Seems positively adorable compared to what we’re dealing with now—multiple investigations within myriad agencies (both city and federal, by the by) on the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia.

I follow a number of super-smart folks on Twitter like Claude Taylor and Louise Mensch who are plugged in to intelligence matters both foreign and domestic. I’m inspired by their bravery and honesty in a time when our constitutional democracy is under assault—and only one political party seems bothered by it. By some accounts, some in GOP leadership think it’s funny.

I decided to scrap CrankyYank Vol. 61 in favor of a post on Mike Pence because it touches on a number of critical things in our country: espionage, national security, voting rights, presidential politics and our constitution. We mustn’t be spectators in this unfolding soap opera—we must be lead players.

Yesterday I received a message from an intel source urging me to look at how the GOP is playing a “long game”; the source reminded me that the 22nd Amendment stipulates a person can occupy the role of Commander in Chief for up to (but no more than) 10 years.

This makes the assumption that Trump would resign or be impeached before finishing his first term. All presidents are of course subject to a limit of two years, a rule in the 22nd Amendment that was passed in 1947 and ratified by the states in ’51.

If Pence—a noted right-wing loon who is open about his own radical religious views—assumes office on or after 20 January 2019, he’ll be permitted to run for POTUS in both 2020 and 2024 because he’s seen as finishing Trump’s first term. If Pence were to take office prior to that date, he’d be constitutionally limited to running only in 2020, since that span would technically constitute his first term in office.

Many have said Trump was the GOP’s ticket to power, but he’s seen as expendable given his many (many, many, many) flaws. Pence, the conventional GOP wisdom says, would be able to step in as a potty-trained pol and right the country’s ship; he could, in theory, play the role of “savior” (pun intended) and consolidate the GOP’s hold on the nation’s highest office for a decade.

When Bill Maher said on Real Time that the United States is in a “slow-moving right wing coup,” I don’t think he was thinking that far ahead. But he might as well have been.

After receiving this urging from my source, my mind turned to Trump and Pence’s favorite voter suppresionists: Kris Kobach and Ken Blackwell. The dynamic duo have been tasked with running Trump’s Voter Fraud Commission, which will scrutinize the non-existent problem of illegal and fake voting.

As superb investigative journalist Greg Palast has reported repeatedly since last summer, Kobach’s Crosscheck program uses a methodology whereby perfectly eligible voters are purged based on duplicate and foreign-sounding last names, among other things. Crosscheck and related programs were factors in many swing states, including Wisconsin.

(Pictured: Greg Palast, right, with Joy Ann Reid)

Kobach & Blackwell (sounds like a bad personal-injury law firm) represent the worst of American prejudice; when you couple overtly unconstitutional voter purges with Trump’s obsession over his popular-vote defeat, their voter-fraud panel starts to make sense. Despite every data point that says otherwise, Donnie and those in his orbit have decided that voter fraud is a huge and pervasive problem that must be addressed. Trump claims, incorrectly of course, that millions of votes were fraudulently cast for Sec. Hillary Clinton, which is why he lost the popular vote. From AlterNet:

The panel will ‘look at allegations of improper voting and fraudulent voter registration in states and across the nation,’ The New York Times reported on Thursday. Trump’s action was viewed by civil rights groups, including the Southern Poverty Law Center, as a vehicle to promote voter ID laws and other restrictions that suppress the votes of minorities and the poor.

And so. Republicans think they have a stalwart figurehead waiting in the wings, Pence, to take over for a flailing, probably compromised commander in chief in Trump. Broadening a program like Crosscheck to a national scale would greatly increase their chances of maintaining power, even though they’ve lost the popular vote in 6 out of the last 7 elections. They need to make the eligible voter pool smaller in order to win.

And who is the chair of this Voting Integrity Panel? Mike Pence.

The GOP sees Pence as their knight in shimmering armor. But don’t count your chickens, dudes. As chair of the Trump transition team, Pence was warned repeatedly about Mike Flynn being compromised and possibly blackmailed by Russia. His explanations about hiring Flynn as national security adviser, to this day, make no logical sense. Pence is caught up in basically every point of controversy associated with Trump.

It’s up to The Resistance to fight this right-wing coup with everything we have. We can complain about Puffy Fuckknuckle L’Oránge until we’re blue in the face, but we must tag Pence on everything else because—by all accounts—he’s just as guilty.

Stopping this 10-year power grab should be just as important as uncovering all of Trump’s Russia connections.

Call your representatives; keep showing up at a town hall; join an Indivisible group; shame-tweet your senators daily; and most of all, VOTE. That’s the only way we’ll get rid of these bitches and have the adults back in the captain’s chair. 🔵

UPDATE: Politico is out with a predictably inside-the-Beltway account of how Pence is waiting in the wings to take over. From the piece: “The pining for Pence is nothing new, however. From Capitol Hill to K Street, the notion that many Republicans prefer Pence to Trump in the Oval Office is perhaps the worst-kept secret in Washington.” Politico says nothing about Pence’s involvement with Flynn, nor does it mention the weird way Pence got the gig in the first place.

UPDATE 2: Politico out with another piece today on comments Elijah Cummings made about Pence. “Either he’s not telling the truth or he was running a sloppy shop.” Or maybe both? For whatever reason, he added, the campaign was fixated on adding Flynn as NSA. “My belief is they really wanted this guy to be a part of their operation, period.”


Will Pollocksideways is an Atlanta-based freelance multimedia journalist focusing on pop-culture, politics, journalism & media, retail, real estate, travel, politics, and human-interest stories. 

He is the author of two books (Pizza for Good & Leaving Triscuit), with more on the way. Sign up for the mailing list, follow on TwitterFacebook and Instagram—and check out the book links below.

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