It’s become almost routine for political parties and campaigns to declare that the next scheduled election is “the most important election of our lifetime.” But 2022 might be the year that this well-worn phrase is the truest it has ever been. 

America has had difficult and problematic presidencies — even ones that have included criminality. But we have never had a president attempt to remain in office via a coup d’etat.

America has had difficult and problematic presidencies — even ones that have included criminality. But we have never had a president attempt to remain in office via a coup d’etat after defeat. The House Jan. 6 commission, going well beyond what Donald Trump’s second impeachment uncovered, has revealed an extraordinary plot to corrupt the government and halt Joe Biden’s presidential victory by any means necessary — including violence. It is a plot that has touched everything from state legislatures and secretaries of state to the Justice Department, Congress and perhaps even the Secret Service.

That insurrection hasn’t ended. MAGA Republicanism seems to have only grown since the attempted insurrection, and Trump-endorsed candidates are running in and winning primaries for local, state and federal offices nationwide, in red states, purple states and even blue ones (see: Maryland’s gubernatorial race). Most alarmingly, they appear ready and willing to continue Trump’s “big lie” project, which could undermine the foundational bedrock of our democracy.

And so, the coming midterm elections could well determine whether we have free and fair elections again. The stakes are no less than that. Because if, after November, control of key states and one or both houses of Congress passes into the hands of people who fundamentally do not believe that the will of the people matters, how the American people actually vote in 2024 and beyond may also cease to matter. The security of our elections, our election workers and of our democracy itself will be severely at risk.

Joy Reid

Joy-Ann Reid is host of “The ReidOut” at 7 p.m. ET on MSNBC. “The ReidOut” features one-on-one conversations with politicians and newsmakers while addressing provocative political issues both inside and outside of the beltway.