Elise Stefanik Has a Warning for America: #StoptheSteal 2024 Is Coming
Before we get going, I want to put a thought in your head:
Donald Trump’s great insight about the American political system is that it is not a system for governance, but for the control of power. And while power may be obtained through elections, voting is not the only way in which power can be secured.
Just keep that in mind as we proceed. Now, let’s go.
1. Shmoo’s Clues
Over the weekend Elise Stefanik cut another audition tape for the VP sweepstakes. Appearing on Meet the Press, she was asked about her refusal to certify the results of the 2020 election and her willingness to certify the results of the 2024 election.
Welker: You mentioned Pennsylvania. Would you vote to certify, and will you vote to certify the results of the 2024 election, no matter what they show?
Stefanik: Well, I voted not to certify the State of Pennsylvania because, as we saw in Pennsylvania and other states across the country, that there was unconstitutional acts circumventing the state legislature and unilaterally changing election law.
Welker: What about 2024, Congresswoman?
Stefanik: We will see if this is a legal and valid election. What we’re seeing so far is that Democrats are so desperate they’re trying to remove President Trump from the ballot. That is a suppression of the American people. And the Supreme Court is taking that case up in February. That should be a 9-0, to allow President Trump to appear on the ballot, because that’s the American people’s decision to make this November.
Let’s start with the small stuff. Stefanik says that the Supreme Court should rule 9–0 against the use of the Fourteenth Amendment concerning Trump’s appearance on the ballot. Her reasoning?
“Because that’s the American people’s decision to make.”
At the risk of belaboring the obvious: This is not a legal argument.1 Stefanik has nothing to say about the merits of the case. She has no counterargument. She simply has her feelings and asserts them as though they should not only be the controlling legal doctrine, but that they should be universally accepted (9–0!) by the rest of America.
Then she makes her turn and proposes that the lawful legal process in which the plaintiffs, the state courts, and the Supreme Court (so far) have followed the bright letter of the law is “suppression of the American people.”
And she presents this suppression as a prospective explanation for why she is taking a wait-and-see approach to certifying any election results later this year.
Remember that Stefanik is not an obscure backbencher. She is the third-ranking Republican in the House. She is the new MAGA establishment. And she is stating, clearly, that she and her party are preparing to challenge the results of the 2024 election if Trump loses at the ballot box.
The Republican party has learned many lessons from Trump. It has learned that the price for norm-breaking is trivial. It has learned that one scandal can be deadly, but a hundred scandals are white noise.
And it has learned that elections are not end points. They are merely the beginning of a negotiation.2
You can read the history of the 2020 election as an extension of Trump’s The Art of the Deal. Historically, American politicians took the counting of votes as the final word. Trump saw this as an advantage. If he won an election outright—as he did in the New Hampshire primary in 2016—then he claimed victory and moved on, confident that his rivals would not try to reverse the result.
But if he lost then he moved to a new phase in which he could use other avenues to pursue a more . . . congenial outcome.