That’s the message from comedian Bill Maher in a powerful segment in which he suggests that what happened in 2020 — Donald Trump insisting, without proof, that the election was stolen and leaning on Republican election officials to change the vote (or ignore it entirely) — was only a test run for what is coming.
“Trump has spent his [post presidency] figuring out how to pull off the coup he couldn’t pull off last time,” Maher argued, noting that the former President has systematically sought to eliminate those who kept him from overturning the election — from Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
On this, Maher is spot on. Since his 2020 election loss, Trump has spent the vast majority of his time fighting with his own party — insisting that they aren’t fighting hard enough and that he will find people willing to do just that come 2022.
In addition to endorsing a challenger to Raffensperger for Georgia secretary of state, Trump is backing a state representative for Arizona secretary of state who not only worked to overturn the election results in the state but also attended the January 6 “Stop the Steal” rally that served as a prelude to the riot at the US Capitol. Those are two of many people Trump is endorsing who, had they been in office during and after the 2020 election, would have worked to change the outcome.
Maher envisions a 2024 election where a) Trump runs again b) Trump wins the Republican nomination again and c) Trump refuses to acknowledge the results again.
The difference? “This time his claims of illegal voting by immigrants or mail-in ballots coming in after deadline or the system was hacked by Venezuela … will be fully embraced by the stooges he’s installing right now,” argued Maher.
That reality will create a post-election period in which two people are claiming to be president. In short, chaos. And in Maher’s imagining violent clashes the likes of which we only had a hint of on January 6.
“The dings-dongs who attacked the Capitol, that was like when al Qaeda tried to take down the World Trade Center with a van,” Maher said. “It was a joke. The next time they came back with planes.”
The Point: A year ago I might have rolled my eyes at Maher’s nightmare scenario. After what happened on January 6 — and the ways in which Trump and his allies have sought to rewrite what happened that day — we all should take what Maher envisions very seriously.