Robert Reich's Blog

Former labor secretary: Don’t believe corporate America’s 'labor shortage' BS

For the first time in years, American workers have enough bargaining leverage to demand better working conditions and higher wages – and are refusing to work until they get them.

This originally appeared on Robert Reich's blog.

Here's where that leverage comes from. After a year and a half of the pandemic, consumers have pent-up demand for all sorts of goods and services. But employers are finding it hard to fill positions to meet that demand.

The most recent jobs report showed the number of job openings at a record high. The share of people working or looking for work has dropped to a near-record low 61.6 percent. In August, 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs, the highest quit rate since 2000.

Republicans have been claiming for months that people aren't getting back to work because of federal unemployment benefits. Rubbish.

The number of people working or looking for work dropped in September – after the extra benefits ran out on Labor Day.

The reluctance of people to work doesn't have anything to do with unemployment benefits. It has everything to do with workers being fed up.

Some have retired early. Others have found ways to make ends meet other than a job they hate. Many just don't want to return to backbreaking or mind-numbing low-wage jobs.

In the wake of so much hardship, illness and death, peoples' priorities have shifted.

The media and most economists measure the economy's success by the number of jobs it creates, while ignoring the quality of those jobs. Just look at the media coverage of the September jobs report: The New York Times emphasized "weak" job growth. For CNN, it was "another disappointment."

But when I was Secretary of Labor, I met with working people all over the country who complained that their jobs paid too little and had few benefits, or were unsafe, or required unwieldy hours. Many said their employers treated them badly.

With the pandemic, it's even worse. That's why, in addition to all the people who aren't returning to work, we're also seeing dozens of organized strikes around the country – 10,000 John Deere workers, 1,400 Kellogg workers, over 1,000 Alabama coal miners, and thousands of others.

Not to mention the unauthorized strikes and walkouts since the pandemic began, like the mostly Black sanitation workers in Pittsburgh or the Amazon warehouse workers in Staten Island.

In order to lure workers back, employers are now raising wages and offering other incentives. Average earnings rose 19 cents an hour in September and are up more than $1 an hour over the last year. But clearly, that's not enough to get workers back.

Corporate America is trying to frame this as a "labor shortage."

But what's really happening is more accurately described as a living-wage shortage, a hazard pay shortage, a childcare shortage, a paid sick leave shortage, and a health care shortage.

Unless these shortages are rectified, this unofficial general strike will continue.

I say it's about time.

America is on Strike | Robert Reich www.youtube.com

The Republican Party now poses a clear and present danger to the values it once espoused

I'm old enough to remember when the Republican Party stood for limited government – when Ronald Reagan thundered "Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem."

Today's Republican Party, while still claiming to stand for limited government, is practicing just the opposite: government intrusion everywhere.

Republican states are on the way to outlawing abortions. Texas has just banned abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, before many women even know they're pregnant. Other Republican states are considering similar measures.

Republican lawmakers are stopping schools from requiring students wear masks. Iowa, Tennessee, Utah, Texas, Florida, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Arizona and South Carolina have ordered public schools not to demand them.

Republican lawmakers are forbidding teachers from telling students about America's racist past. State legislatures from Tennessee to Idaho are barring all references to racism in the classroom.

Republican legislators are forcing transgender students to play sports and use bathrooms according to their assigned gender at birth. Thirty-three states have introduced more than 100 bills aiming to curb the rights of transgender people across the country.

Republican lawmakers are making it harder for people to vote. So far, they've enacted more than 30 laws that reduce access to polling places, number of days for voting, and availability of absentee voting.

This is not limited government, folks. To the contrary, these Republican lawmakers have a particular ideology, and they are now imposing those views and values on citizens holding different views and values.

This is big government on steroids.

Many Republican lawmakers use the word "freedom" to justify what they're doing, but that's bogus. What they're really doing is denying people their freedom – freedom to be safe from COVID, freedom over their own bodies, freedom to learn, freedom to vote and participate in our democracy.

Years ago, the Republican Party had a coherent idea about limiting the role of government and protecting the rights of the individual. I disagreed with it, as did much of the rest of America. But at least it was honest, reasoned, and consistent. As such, Republicans played an important part in a debate over what we wanted for ourselves and for America.

Today, Republican politicians have no coherent view. They want only to be reelected, even if that means misusing government to advance a narrow and increasing anachronistic set of values – intruding on the most intimate aspects of life, interfering in what can be taught and learned, risking the public's health, banning what's necessary for people to exercise their most basic freedoms.

This is not mere hypocrisy. The Republican Party now poses a clear and present threat even to the values it once espoused.

The $3.5 trillion bill that terrifies corporate America

Right now, Democrats are working to pass a $3.5 trillion package that will provide long overdue help for working Americans.

The final bill hasn't yet been determined, so we don't know the exact dollar amounts for all its policies. We'll probably find that out in late September or early October. For now, the Democrats' budget resolution frames what's in the bill.

First, on families:

The bill would make permanent key benefits for working families, including the expanded child tax credit in the pandemic relief plan that sends families up to $300 per child each month but is now set to expire in December, and is estimated to cut child poverty by half.

It would also establish universal child care, for which low- and middle-income households would pay no more than 7 percent of their incomes.

And provide a national program of paid leave — worth up to $4,000 a month — for workers who take time off because they are ill or caring for a relative.

Next, on education:

The bill would reduce educational inequality by establishing universal pre-K for all 3- and 4-year-olds, benefiting an estimated 5 million children, and providing tuition-free community college – essentially expanding free public education from 12 years to 16 years.

It will also invest in historically Black colleges and universities and increase the maximum amount of Pell grants for students from lower-income families.

On health care:

The bill expands Medicare to include dental, vision, and hearing benefits and lowers the eligibility age. It also expands Medicaid to cover people living in the 12 states that have not yet expanded Medicaid, and makes critical investments to improve healthcare for people of color.

The big question is how far it will go to reduce prescription drug prices by, for example, allowing Medicare to negotiate prices with pharmaceutical companies. That could reduce Medicare and Medicaid spending, and free up more money for other parts of the bill. But Big Pharma is dead-set against this.

Big corporations and the rich picking up the tab:

In another step toward fairness, all of these are to be financed by higher taxes on the rich and big corporations.

The bill would also increase the Internal Revenue Service's funding so the agency can properly audit wealthy tax cheats, who fail to report about a fifth of their income every year, thereby costing the government $105 billion annually.

In addition, the bill tackles the climate crisis, which also especially burdens lower-income Americans:

There are a range of solutions – subsidizing the use of solar, wind, nuclear and other forms of clean energy while financially penalizing the use of dirty energy like coal; helping families pay for electric cars and energy-efficient homes.

The bill might include something known as a carbon border adjustment tax — a tax on imports whose production was carbon-intensive, like many from China.

The bill would also establish a Civilian Climate Corps, and invest in communities that bear the brunt of the climate crisis.

And the bill helps American workers:

It will hopefully contain much of the PRO Act, the toughest labor law reform in a generation.

Finally, the bill includes a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
This is all about making America fairer.

Remember: we won't know the exact details of the bill for at least a month, but these are the main areas that it will focus on. The big challenge will be ensuring Senate Democrats remain united to get it passed. All of us will need to fight like hell.

Don't listen to spending hawks who claim it's too expensive or too radical. For far too long, our government has ignored the needs of everyday Americans, catering instead to the demands of corporations and the super-rich. No more.

It's time to get this landmark bill passed and build a fairer America.

The Republican Supreme Court is squandering what remains of its authority

The U.S. Supreme Court won't block a Texas law that allows private individuals to sue to enforce a ban on abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy – before many women are even aware they're pregnant. The law went into effect Wednesday, September 1.

It's the most restrictive abortion law in the country, imposing a huge burden on women without the means or money to travel to another state where later abortions are legal.

It's also a sign that the Republican-appointed justices, who now hold six of nine seats on the Court, are ready to overturn the Court's 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, striking down anti-abortion laws across the nation as violating a woman's right to privacy under the fourteenth amendment to the Constitution.

Last week the Court held that Biden's moratorium on evictions was illegal. A few days before, it refused to stay a lower court decision that people seeking asylum at the southern border must remain in Mexico until their cases are heard – often subjecting them to great hardship or violence.

What links these cases? Cruelty toward the powerless.

The U.S. Supreme Court won't block a Texas law that allows private individuals to sue to enforce a ban on abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy – before many women are even aware they're pregnant. The law went into effect Wednesday, September 1.

It's the most restrictive abortion law in the country, imposing a huge burden on women without the means or money to travel to another state where later abortions are legal.

It's also a sign that the Republican-appointed justices, who now hold six of nine seats on the Court, are ready to overturn the Court's 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, striking down anti-abortion laws across the nation as violating a woman's right to privacy under the fourteenth amendment to the Constitution.

Last week the Court held that Biden's moratorium on evictions was illegal. A few days before, it refused to stay a lower court decision that people seeking asylum at the southern border must remain in Mexico until their cases are heard – often subjecting them to great hardship or violence.

What links these cases? Cruelty toward the powerless.

Sitting not far away from him was Thurgood Marshall – who succeeded in having the Supreme Court declare segregated public schools unconstitutional in the landmark 1954 case Brown v. Board of Education, and who did more than person then alive to break down the shameful legal edifice of Jim Crow.

Today's Supreme Court majority is a group of knee-jerk conservatives whose intellectual leader (to the extent they have one) is Samuel Alito, perhaps the most conceptually rigid and cognitively dishonest justice since Chief Justice Roger Taney.

Five of today's Supreme Court majority were appointed by presidents who lost the popular vote; three of them by a president who instigated a coup against the United States.

The authority of the Supreme Court derives entirely from Americans' confidence and trust in it. As Alexander Hamilton wrote in The Federalist Papers 78, the judiciary has "neither the sword" (the executive branch's power to compel action) "nor the purse" (the Congress's power to appropriate funds).

The Court I was privileged to argue before almost fifty years ago had significant authority. It protected the less powerful with arguments that resonated with the core moral values of the nation. Americans didn't always agree with its conclusions, but they respected it.

Today's cruel and partisan Supreme Court is squandering what remains of its authority. It is also imposing unnecessary suffering on those least able to bear it.

The Constitution's framers knew a filibuster would be a huge mistake

You've probably been hearing a lot about the filibuster these days. But here's one thing about this old Senate rule you might not know: the filibuster actually violates the Constitution.

41 Senate Republicans, who represent only 21 percent of the American population, are blocking the "For the People Act," which is supported by 67 percent of Americans. They're also blocking an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour, supported by 62 percent of Americans. And so much else.

Even some so-called moderate Democrats, like Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema, have outsized power to block crucial legislation thanks to the filibuster.

Many of those who defend the filibuster consider themselves "originalists," who claim to be following the Constitution as the Framers intended.

But the filibuster is not in the Constitution. In fact, the Framers of the Constitution went to great lengths to ensure that a minority of senators could not thwart the wishes of the majority.

After all, a major reason they called the Constitutional Convention was that the Articles of Confederation (the precursor to the Constitution) required a super-majority vote of nine of the thirteen states, making the government weak and ineffective.

James Madison argued against any super-majority requirement, writing that "the fundamental principle of free government would be reversed," and "It would be no longer the majority that would rule: the power would be transferred to the minority."

Alexander Hamilton, meanwhile, warned about "how much good may be prevented, and how much ill may be produced" if a minority in either house of Congress had "the power of hindering the doing what may be necessary."

Hence, the Framers required no more than a simple majority vote in both houses of Congress to pass legislation. They carved out specific exceptions, requiring a super-majority vote only for rare, high-stakes decisions:

Impeachments.

Expulsion of members.

Overriding a presidential veto.

Ratification of treaties.

Constitutional amendments.

By being explicit about these exceptions where a super-majority is necessary, the Framers underscored their commitment to majority rule for the normal business of the nation.

They would have balked at the notion of a minority of senators continually obstructing the majority, which is now the case with the filibuster.

So where did the filibuster come from?

The Senate needed a mechanism to end debate on proposed laws, and move laws to a vote — a problem the Framers didn't anticipate. In 1841, a small group of senators took full advantage of this oversight to stage the first filibuster. They hoped to hamstring the Senate and force their opponents to give in by prolonging debate and delaying a vote.

This was what became known as the "talking filibuster" as popularized in the film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. But the results were hardly admirable.

After the Civil War, the filibuster was used by Southern politicians to defeat Reconstruction legislation, including bills to protect the voting rights of Black Americans.

In 1917, as a result of pressure from President Woodrow Wilson and the public, the Senate finally adopted a procedure for limiting debate and ending filibusters with a two-thirds vote (67 votes). In the 1970s, the Senate reduced the number of votes required to end debate down to 60, and no longer required constant talking to delay a vote. 41 votes would do it.

Throughout much of the 20th century, despite all the rule changes, filibusters remained rare. Southern senators mainly used them to block anti-lynching, fair employment, voting rights, and other critical civil rights bills.

That all changed in 2006, after Democrats won a majority of Senate seats. Senate Republicans, now in the minority, used the 60-vote requirement with unprecedented frequency. After Barack Obama became president in 2008, the Republican minority blocked virtually every significant piece of legislation. Nothing could move without 60 votes.

In 2009, a record 67 filibusters occurred during the first half of the 111th Congress — double the entire 20-year period between 1950 and 1969. By the time the 111th Congress adjourned in December 2010, the filibuster count had ballooned to 137.

Now we have a total mockery of majority rule. And it bears repeating that just 41 Senate Republicans, representing only 21 percent of the country, are blocking critical laws supported by the vast majority of Americans.

This is exactly the opposite of what the framers of the Constitution intended. They unequivocally rejected the notion that a minority of Senators could obstruct the majority.

Every time Republicans use or defend the filibuster they're directly violating the Constitution — the document they claim to be dedicated to. How can someone profess to be an "originalist" and defend the Constitution while repeatedly violating it?

Senators whose votes have been blocked by a minority should have standing to take this issue to the Supreme Court. And the Court should abolish the filibuster as violating the U.S. Constitution.

The media is dangerously distorting the truth about American politics

The mainstream media has historically tried to balance left and right in its political coverage, and present what it views as a reasonable center.

That may sound good in theory. But the old politics no longer exists and the former labels "left" versus "right" are outdated.

Today it's democracy versus authoritarianism, voting rights versus white supremacy. There's no reasonable center between these positions, no justifiable compromise. Equating them is misleading and dangerous.

You hear the mainstream media say, for example, that certain "Republican and Democratic lawmakers are emerging as troublemakers within their parties." These reports equate Republican lawmakers who are actively promoting Trump's big lie that the 2020 election was stolen, with Democratic lawmakers who are fighting to extend health care and other programs to help people.

These are not equivalent. Trump's big lie is a direct challenge to American democracy. Even if you disagree with providing Americans better access to health care, it won't destroy our system of government.

You also hear that both sides are gripped by equally dangerous extremism. Labeling them "radical left" and "radical right" suggests that the responsible position is somehow between these so-called extremes.

Can we get real? One side is trying to protect and preserve voting rights. The other side is trying to suppress votes under the guise of "election integrity."

But there isn't and never was a problem of "election integrity." The whole issue of "election integrity" in the 2020 election was manufactured by Donald Trump and his big lie about voter fraud, and was bought and propagated by the Republican Party.

Today's Republican Party is behind what historians regard as the biggest attack on voting rights since Jim Crow, but the media frames this as a right-versus-left battle that's just politics as usual. Equating the two sides is false and dangerous.

Or compare the coverage of Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert, on one hand, with the coverage of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar on the other. You'd think they were all equally out of the mainstream, some on the extreme right, some on the extreme left. That's bunk.

Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert, in addition to spreading dangerous conspiracy theories, harassing colleagues, and promoting bigotry, don't actually legislate or do anything for their constituents. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar both organize to help everyday people, deliver for their constituents, and have pushed legislation to provide universal school meals, expand affordable housing, and combat the climate crisis.

Equating all these lawmakers suggests that the responsible position is halfway between hateful, delusional conspiracy theories on the one hand, and efforts to fight white supremacy, save the planet, and empower working people on the other.

It's similar to what the media did following Donald Trump's infamous condemnation of "both sides" after the deadly violence sparked by neo-Nazis and white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017. In the ensuing weeks, America's six top mainstream newspapers used just as much space condemning anti-Nazi counter-protesters as they did actual neo-Nazis.

But research shows white supremacists pose a significantly graver threat than those trying to stop them. White supremacists are animated by racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, and other forms of bigotry, violence and hate.

Battling white supremacy is not the same as advocating it. Passing laws to prevent voter suppression is not the same as passing laws to suppress votes. Fighting for our democracy is not the same as seeking to destroy it.

The media equating both sides, one "left" and one "right," suggests there's a moderate middle between hate and inclusion, between democracy and proto-fascism.

This is misleading, dangerous, and morally wrong. Don't fall for it.

Why young people are broke

There's a narrative out there that millennials and the Generation Zs behind them are lazy.

Well, that is just bunk.

The reason a lot of young people are not doing nearly as well as their parents at this stage is that they're paying huge amounts – much more than their parents ever paid, as a proportion of their paychecks, for education, higher education or student debt, housing for rent, health care, even transportation.

All of these costs have increased faster than inflation, and at the same time, jobs are not paying that much more.

One in 10 college graduates are underemployed. By underemployed, we mean they are not spending 40 hours a week doing things that are challenging and taking advantage of their education. One out of 20 is unemployed.

In the post World War II era, we have never seen anything like this. We have always expected that we're going to do better. Individuals and families are going to do better. They're going to be trading upward, and their children are expected to do better than they have done.

For the first time now, we see the pendulum moving in exactly the opposite direction. Today, your chance of getting ahead as a young person is hugely dependent on the parents you have and their income and their wealth.

Meanwhile, we are on the verge of the largest inter-generational wealth transfer in history. You've got 74 million baby boomers. They've never done so well, raking it in. This extra resource is going to be going to those small slice of Millennials and Generation Zs who have wealthy parents and grandparents.

If nothing changes, the two-tiered society we have now is going to become a chasm between the haves and the have nots.

The most important things America can do is make college free, make healthcare cheaper, and provide more affordable housing.

We cannot continue on the way we are right now.

Trump Republicans are falling back on their old game as Covid surges

As the highly contagious Delta variant surges, public health officials are trying to keep the focus on the urgent need for more vaccinations.

But with increasing vehemence, Trump Republicans are falling back on their old game of deflecting attention by blaming immigrants crossing the southern border.

Last week, Trump issued a characteristic charge: "ICYMI: "Thousands of COVID-positive migrants passing through Texas border city," linking a New York Post article claiming that "nearly 7,000 immigrants who tested positive for COVID-19 have passed through a Texas city that has become the epicenter of the illegal immigration surge."

You may recall Trump employing this racist-nationalist theme before. For years he fixed his ire on Mexicans and Central Americans from "shitholes," as he has so delicately put it. He began his 2016 campaign by charging that "criminals, drug dealers and rapists" were surging across America's southern border, and then spent much of the subsequent four years trying to erect a fence to keep them out.

Trump acolytes are adopting the same demagoguery for the Delta surge. As hospitalizations in Florida soared past 12,000 this week, exceeding a record already shattered last weekend, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis accused President Biden of facilitating the virus by not reducing immigration through the southern border.

"Why don't you do your job?" DeSantis snapped after Biden suggested DeSantis stop opposing masks. "Why don't you get this border secure? And until you do that, I don't want to hear a blip about Covid from you, thank you."

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has also been quick to blame the Delta surge on immigrants crossing into Texas from Mexico, while barring Texas municipalities from mandating masks or inoculations.

On July 28 Abbott issued an order allowing state troopers to stop vehicles suspected of carrying illegal immigrants on the grounds they might be spreading COVID. (The order was subsequently blocked by a federal judge.) Days later, Abbott issued the order prohibiting Texas counties, cities, or universities from mandating masks or inoculations.

The Trumpist media is quickly falling in line behind this nativist rubbish. In the last week, Fox News' Sean Hannity has asserted the "biggest super-spreader" is immigrants streaming over the southern border rather than the lack of vaccinations.

The National Review claims "Biden's border crisis merges with his Covid crisis" and asserts that "the federal government is successfully terrifying people about COVID while it is shrugging at the thousands of infectious illegal aliens who are coming into the country and spreading the virus." A headline in the Fort Worth Star Telegram demands we "Stop pretending that crush of immigrants at Texas border isn't driving COVID cases."

Hold it. Can we please look at the actual data?

The Delta variant was first detected in India in December, and then moved directly to the United States in March and April according to the CDC.

GISAID, a nonprofit organization that tracks the genetic sequencing of viruses, has shown that each of the four variants now circulating in the United States arrived here before spreading to Mexico and Central America. International travel rather than immigration over the southern border brought the viruses to America.

Haven't we had enough demagoguery and deflection? Haven't Trump and his ilk done enough damage already?

The blame game must stop. Let's be clear. The best way to contain deaths and hospitalizations from Covid is to get more Americans vaccinated. Period.

The solutions to the climate crisis no one is talking about

In light of the latest IPCC report on climate change, it's crucial we remember these four steps to avoiding a climate catastrophe.

First, create green jobs. Investing in renewable energy could create millions of family sustaining, union jobs and build the infrastructure we need for marginalized communities to access clean water and air.

Second, stop dirty energy. A massive investment in renewable energy jobs isn't enough to combat the climate crisis. If we are going to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we must tackle the problem at its source: Stop digging up and burning more oil, gas, and coal.

Third, kick fossil fuel companies out of our politics. For decades, companies like Exxon, Chevron, Shell, and BP have been polluting our democracy by pouring billions of dollars into our politics and bankrolling elected officials to enact policies that protect their profits. The oil and gas industry spent over $103 million on the 2016 federal elections alone.

Fourth, require the fossil fuel companies that have profited from environmental injustice to compensate the communities they've harmed. As if buying off our democracy wasn't enough, these corporations have also deliberately misled the public for years on the amount of damage their products have been causing. If these solutions sound drastic to you, it's because they are. They have to be if we have any hope of keeping our planet habitable. The climate crisis is not a far-off apocalyptic nightmare — it is our present day.

DC insider: A Trump bombshell quietly dropped last week and it should shock us all

We've become so inured to Donald Trump's proto-fascism that we barely blink an eye when we learn that he tried to manipulate the 2020 election. Yet the most recent revelation should frighten every American to their core.

On Friday, the House oversight committee released notes of a 27 December telephone call from Trump to then acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen, in which Trump told Rosen: "Just say the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me and the R congressmen." The notes were taken by Richard Donoghue, Rosen's deputy, who was also on the call.

The release of these notes has barely made a stir. The weekend news was filled with more immediate things – infrastructure! The Delta strain! Inflation! Wildfires! In light of everything else going on, Trump's bizarre efforts in the last weeks of his presidency seem wearily irrelevant. Didn't we already know how desperate he was?

In a word, no. This revelation is hugely important.

Rosen obviously rejected Trump's request. But what if Rosen had obeyed Trump and said to the American public that the election was corrupt – and then "left the rest" to Trump and the Republican congressmen? What would Trump's and the Republicans' next moves have been? And which Republican congressmen were in cahoots with Trump in this attempted coup d'état?

Make no mistake: this was an attempted coup.

Trump knew it. Just weeks earlier, then attorney general William Barr said the justice department had found no evidence of widespread fraud that could have overturned the results.

And a few days after Trump's call to Rosen – on 2 January – Trump told Brad Raffensperger, Georgia's secretary of state, to "find" votes to change the election outcome. He berated Raffensperger for not doing more to overturn the election.

Emails released last month also show that Trump and his allies in the last weeks of his presidency pressured the justice department to investigate totally unsubstantiated claims of widespread election fraud – forwarding them conspiracy theories and even a draft legal brief they hoped would be filed with the supreme court.

Some people, especially Republican officeholders, believe we should simply forget these sordid details. We must not.

For the first time in the history of the United States we did not have a peaceful transition of power. For the first time in American history, a president refused – still refuses – to concede, and continues to claim, with no basis in fact, that the election was "stolen" from him. For the first time in history, a president actively plotted a coup.

It would have been bad enough were Trump a mere crackpot acting on his own pathetic stage – a would-be dictator who accidentally became president and then, when he lost re-election, went bonkers – after which he was swept into the dustbin of history.

We might then merely regret this temporary lapse in American presidential history. At best, Trump would be seen as a fool and the whole affair an embarrassment to the country.

For the first time in the history of the United States we did not have a peaceful transition of power. For the first time in American history, a president refused – still refuses – to concede, and continues to claim, with no basis in fact, that the election was "stolen" from him. For the first time in history, a president actively plotted a coup.

It would have been bad enough were Trump a mere crackpot acting on his own pathetic stage – a would-be dictator who accidentally became president and then, when he lost re-election, went bonkers – after which he was swept into the dustbin of history.

We might then merely regret this temporary lapse in American presidential history. At best, Trump would be seen as a fool and the whole affair an embarrassment to the country.

This final revelation – Trump's 27 December call to the acting attorney general in which he pleads "Just say the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me" – should trigger section 3 of the 14th amendment, which bars anyone from holding office who "engaged in insurrection" against the US. The current attorney general of the United States, Merrick Garland, should issue an advisory opinion clearly stating this. If Trump wants to take it to the supreme court, fine.

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