Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, and Wyoming


What did Donald Trump do today?

He explicitly refused to commit to a "peaceful transfer" of power.

This morning, Atlantic reporter Barton Gellman published an article directly quoting Trump campaign officials who outlined a specific plan to delegitimize the election results and maintain Trump in power. In summary, it goes like this.

  1. Trump, aided by the ongoing COVID-19 disaster, created a partisan split about how to vote where none had existed before. Except for crucial swing states like Florida and Michigan, where he encourages mail-in voting, Trump has encouraged Republicans to vote in person by demonizing absentee voting—which Democrats are now much more likely to use.

  2. Trump has also declared, over and over again and with no evidence whatsoever, that mailed ballots are a giant invitation to fraud. In reality, something on the order of 0.001%—one ballot in every hundred thousand—is cast illegally, and most of those are people mistakenly voting when they are not legally entitled to. The real danger of mail-in voting is that it is easier to make technical mistakes that will invalidate legal ballots—something that would help Trump.

  3. This means it will take longer than usual to count the vote—and because same-day in-person voting can be counted immediately, Trump is likely to have a temporary lead with a small but Trump-friendly portion of the vote counted on Election Day. This is being called the "red mirage."

  4. But as the remainder of the votes are counted in subsequent days—if they are counted—Joe Biden is very likely to take the lead in enough states to win the electoral college outright.

  5. The Trump campaign will use the apparent "victory" of Election Day votes, as well as any chaos or irregularities—even ones he caused—to put pressure on Republican state legislatures to overturn the election and simply declare Trump the winner by legislative fiat. Trump would aid this by declaring—as he already has, over and over again, and in defiance of all law, that only Election Day ballots really count.

    In fact, he's already done this in the 2018 election. He insisted that recounts stop in the Florida gubernatorial and Senate race—which Republicans won anyway—and also in Arizona, where Democratic senator-elect Krysten Sinema pulled ahead as absentee ballots were cast.

  6. In order to put pressure on states to invalidate their own elections, and the ballots cast by their own citizens in ways specified by the state as legal, Trump could try to stir up violence, seize ballots, send anonymous federal police forces to find "evidence" of wrongdoing in Democratic strongholds, or declare martial law

    He could also try to rush legal challenges to the Supreme Court, which would have three of his appointees on it by then—including the newest one who, he explicitly said yesterday, he wanted on the Court to vote against the "scam" of an apparent election loss.

Then, today, Trump had this exchange with a reporter at a press conference.

Q: Mr. President, real quickly, win lose or draw, in this election, will you commit here today for a peaceful transferral of power after the election? There has been rioting in Louisville, there's been rioting in many cities across this country, red and—your so-called red and blue states. Will you commit to making sure that there is a peaceful transferral of power after the election.

TRUMP: Well, we're going to have to see what happens. You know, I've been complaining very strongly about the ballots and the ballots are a disaster but—

Q: I understand that, but people are rioting. Do you commit to making sure that there's a peaceful—

TRUMP: No, we want to—get rid of the ballots and you'll have a very peaceful—it won't be a transfer, frankly, it'll be a continuation. The ballots are out of control.


(quoted portion begins at 8:10)

No candidate for the presidency in the history of the country, except for Trump, has refused to guarantee the peaceful transition of power.

Why does this matter?

  • The will of the American people decides who is president, not Donald Trump.
  • Even by Trump's standards, this is pure tinpot dictator stuff.
  • There is no way to spin "get rid of the ballots" in a democracy.