Bob LaBrant is firing still another shot. Will it be his last?
The retired attorney, now in quarantine in rural Perry outside Lansing, was the architect, along with former Gov. John Engler and a few others like the late Ambassador Peter Secchia, of most of the Michigan Republican Party’s electoral success over the past four decades.
But then came Donald Trump, and that was too much for LaBrant. He was an early “Never Trumper” and parted company with virtually all of his longtime allies, signing onto the Lincoln Project, designed to undermine and defeat Trump. Today, LaBrant is the proverbial “Man Without a Country.”
No matter. LaBrant maintains that “I can look myself in the mirror and say that what I’ve said and done was the right thing to do.”
So here is what LaBrant is saying now:
“Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States, has been defeated.
“I was quoted last June 30 in The Ballenger Report saying Trump will go down in history as America’s worst President and perhaps its most corrupt. Nothing has happened since election day to disabuse me of that opinion. In the intervening days between now and Inaugural Day on January 20, 2021, America faces the most perilous time since President James Buchanan (Trump’s likely competition for worst President ranking) was disengaged while Southern States seceded from the Union and began preparations for Civil War before Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration on March 4, 1861. This time the nation faces a deadly pandemic and an economic crisis.
“Will Trump finally accept the election results and prepare for a peaceful transfer of power as his claims of fraud and corruption are dismissed one after another in court after court? Will Trump boycott the ride with Joe Biden up Pennsylvania Avenue and the inaugural ceremony? Will he leave in the famous desk a handwritten note to his successor? No, Yes, and No. I believe when Biden is sworn in at noon on January 20, Trump will be down in Florida playing golf at Mar–a–Largo. I cannot imagine Trump sitting through the ceremony.
“More important for the nation, will Trump continue to ignore the growing spread of the COVID-19 virus that now numbers over 100,000 a day and has a death toll that will steadily climb past 300,000 toward perhaps just short of the 400,000 fatality mark by inaugural day? I expect Trump to take credit for developing the COVID-19 vaccine and will push for quick distribution under Operation Warp Speed while he is still an occupant of the White House.
“Will Trump’s anticipated pardons of cronies include himself and family members? Will he be forced to resign before January 20 because of legal ambiguities in the pardon power of a president pardoning himself? Does Mike Pence, ever so briefly, become the 46th president in order to pardon Trump? State criminal and civil lawsuits loom in New York, awaiting “Citizen” Trump and his family members. Will Trump get his sons, Donald Jr. or Eric, to take the blame? Once thought farfetched, Trump could be forced to scour the earth to find a nation that has no extradition, allowing him to flee the country to escape prison orange if convicted of state tax and banking fraud.
“All that said, there is no need to write an obituary for the Republican Party. The urge by some for a death notice is no more valid today than it was when written for the GOP after Richard Nixon’s resignation in 1974 or Barry Goldwater’s landslide defeat in 1964. Republicans this year in fact GAINED seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, putting the GOP within striking distance of majority status after the mid-term elections of 2022, when the party not occupying the White House historically picks up seats.
“Republicans kept control of every state legislative chamber they held going into 2020 and added control of both chambers in New Hampshire. The National Democratic Redistricting Committee, headed by former Obama Attorney General Eric Holder, largely fizzled. In 2018, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania elected Democratic governors with a redistricting veto pen. In Michigan, however, voters in 2018 approved a constitutional amendment to create an Independent Redistricting Commission. Republicans may find that the “law of unintended consequences” may be working FOR them, not against them. Maps drawn by the Independent Redistricting Commission in Michigan could end up much more favorable than if the Michigan Supreme Court, after a Legislature-gubernatorial deadlock, was called upon to draw maps by Democrat-nominated justices now firmly in the majority (4-3) after the 2020 elections.
“Already, tension is building within the Democratic Conference in the U.S. House of Representatives as Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) heatedly pointed out to her colleagues that the agenda of “The Squad” (left-wing freshmen Democrats including Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib) backing enactment of a Green New Deal, Medicare for all, and defunding the police scared many voters into thinking Congressional Democrats would pursue a “socialist agenda.” Spanberger claimed that such fear was the reason why House Democrats may have lost as many as a dozen seats this year (all the results aren’t counted yet).
“Democratic challengers had been expected to score major pickups in the U.S. Senate. That forecast never materialized. GOP incumbents in Maine, North Carolina, Iowa, and Montana all were re-elected. Republicans currently have 50 seats to 48 seats for Democrats going into two runoff Senate elections in Georgia to be held on January 5, 2021. If Democrats sweep those two elections, yes, a 50-50 tie would give the new Vice President, Kamala Harris, a tie-breaking vote to organize the Senate. But if Dems lose even one of those seats, the GOP will continue to control the chamber.
“The anticipated progressive effort to abolish the filibuster on legislation even with two Senate wins in Georgia is still likely to fail. Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, has already announced on CNN he would vote against such a rule change and perhaps would be joined by other Senate Democratic “traditionalists ” like Jon Tester (D-Montana). That means no statehood bills for the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico reaching a final vote which, if enacted, would surely hand Democrats four additional votes in the U.S. Senate and five more Democratic votes in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“With a 60–vote filibuster rule still applying to legislation, do not expect to see in 2021-2022 a change in the size of the U.S. Supreme Court from nine justices to 13 or even 15, or any increase in the number of federal circuit courts of appeal judges.
“With a 6-3 conservative U.S. Supreme Court in place for some time to come, don’t expect to see the restoration of the pre-clearance requirement under the federal Voting Rights Act that fell in 2013 after the Shelby County decision, or the reversal of the 2010 Citizens United decision (corporate political spending), or the 2018 Janus decision (prohibiting mandatory agency fees by public sector unions), or the 2019 Benisek decision (federal courts should treat partisan redistricting cases as a political question not suited for federal judicial resolution).
“If the legislative filibuster rule is maintained , do not expect to see organized labor’s ultimate goal over the past 73 years realized — the repeal of Section 14(b) of the 1947 Taft-Hartley law, which allows states to enact right -to-work laws. Filibusters stopped repeal legislation in 1965 and 1978 when Democrats controlled both Congressional chambers and the presidency.
“What do the 2020 election returns mean for the confirmation of President Biden’s cabinet and judicial appointments? With no changes in today’s filibuster rules in a 50/50 Senate, it will take only a Senate majority to confirm nominees. Vice President Harris would be there, if needed, to add a 51st vote for confirmation. If the Senate is 52 R-48 D, each confirmation vote could be a battle. However, if someone like former Obama aide Susan Rice is nominated for Secretary of State, I do not see Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski voting against her confirmation.
“I expect a bloc of at least four Republican Senators (Romney, Collins, Murkowski and Sasse) to vote with some regularity to give Biden legislative initiatives a semblance of bi-partisan support. Many of these Senators may not again be running for re-election and may be more interested in their historical legacy than a fear of being the subject of an unfavorable Trump-in–exile tweet. For that same reason, do not expect anyone in Michigan’s returning Republican delegation to be issuing a news release congratulating President-elect Biden, with the possible exception of Fred Upton (R-MI 6). We should note that outgoing Congressman Paul Mitchell (R-MI 10) has publicly congratulated Biden.
“Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) may be more willing to work with Biden that he ever was with President Obama. However, deadlock in Washington is likely to continue in this hyper-partisan era. Until the two Georgia seats are decided on January 5, 2021, McConnell, wanting to continue as majority leader and not as minority leader, will not acknowledge Biden’s victory. Republicans in Georgia need to be whipped into a state of outrage among their base to drive voter turnout. Since a blue wave did not hit with tsunami force in senate, house and state legislative contests across the nation, Donald Trump’s reputation with his base has survived. He is now a martyr for the cause, instead of just a loser. Trump may have lost to Joe Biden by five million votes, but Trump still received over 70 million votes. Trump and Trumpism will continue their malignant hold over the Republican Party as the nation’s demographic change accelerates.
“The question now becomes: Does Trump, at age 78 in 2024, fancy himself to be the next Grover Cleveland and run again for the White House to serve two non-consecutive terms? If he does, presidential campaigns by Vice President Pence, U.S. Senators Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Tom Cotton, Rand Paul, Josh Hawley, and Rick Scott are likely non-starters.
“Trump is expected to establish a new cable news network. Trump will certainly not stop tweeting. Since election day, Trump has already established the Save America Political Action Committee to influence Republican primaries in 2022.
“Donald J. Trump will not go quietly into the night.“