Trump Might Cheat. Activists Are Getting Ready.Historians in the News
tags: elections, voting rights, Vote Suppression
This summer, a bipartisan group of former government officials, political professionals, lawyers and journalists held a series of war game exercises about how the 2020 election might go wrong. Convened by the law professor Rosa Brooks and the historian Nils Gilman, it was called the Transition Integrity Project, and the results were alarming.
“We assess with a high degree of likelihood that November’s elections will be marked by a chaotic legal and political landscape,” said a resulting report. President Trump, it said, “is likely to contest the result by both legal and extralegal means.”
Participants in the Transition Integrity Project played out tactics the president might try if threatened with defeat, including federalizing the National Guard to stop the counting of mail-in ballots. In each scenario, the decisions of the Department of Justice, state officials and the candidates themselves proved pivotal.
But so was the willingness of masses of people to protest. “A show of numbers in the streets — and actions in the streets — may be decisive factors in determining what the public perceives as a just and legitimate outcome,” said the report.
Progressive organizers are preparing for this eventuality. They’ve seen Trump tweet about postponing the election, spread lies about voter fraud and try to sabotage the Postal Service. Many of them remember the 2000 presidential election, when rowdy Republican operatives physically stopped the vote count in Florida while hapless Democrats put their faith in the courts. (One of the instigators of the so-called Brooks Brothers Riot was none other than the criminal Trump adviser Roger Stone.)
So a coalition of progressive groups, as well as some anti-authoritarian conservative ones, is organizing under the rubric Protect the Results to get people into the streets if Trump tries to cheat in November. “It’s a pretty massive effort that’s underway,” said Rashad Robinson, executive director of Color of Change, which is part of the coalition. Activists all over the country, he said, are “really gearing up for this fight.”
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