Under the guise of planning for right-wing violence if Trump loses, Democrats are gaming out how to steal the election if Trump wins.
It’s been hard to miss the steady drumbeat of articles and think-pieces over the past few months about Election Day war games and post-election planning underway on the left, rooted in obsessive fears that President Trump will refuse to accept an electoral loss, triggering a constitutional crisis and maybe even widespread civic unrest, all in a desperate attempt to cling to power.
“The Left Secretly Preps for MAGA Violence After Election Day,” reads a recent headline at The Daily Beast. “Is Trump Planning a Coup d’État?” asks another recent piece at The Nation. “Is America in the Early Stages of Armed Insurgency?” frets Slate. Similar pieces have run at the Washington Post (“The election will likely spark violence—and a constitutional crisis”), The Atlantic (“What might he do? What should Americans fear?”), Vox (“Imagine that… Donald Trump refuses to concede defeat”), The New Yorker (“Trump’s threats about rejecting the results come November are not idle”), and on and on.
The news hook for most of these articles is a series of elaborate election war games hosted in June by a newly formed organization called the Transition Integrity Project, touted by the media as a bipartisan group of experts consisting of former elected officials, high-level government staffers, consultants, and journalists like David Frum, who wrote the Atlantic piece referenced above.
In other words, the Transition Integrity Project is a cross-section of our elite ruling class. In its own executive summary of the war games, the group states it was founded “out of concern that the Trump Administration may seek to manipulate, ignore, undermine or disrupt the 2020 presidential election and transition process” — never mind the many ways Democrats in Congress and the executive bureaucracy, aided by the media, have been doing just that since before Trump won the 2016 election.
The exercise mimicked the kind of war games sometimes conducted for foreign policy crises, only this time the format was applied to the presidential election, with one team playing the Biden campaign and the other the Trump campaign. The outlandish outcome of these simulations—that in the event of a close election, Trump might “federalize the National Guard and take military control of state voting sites,” as Frum writes — tells us less about what is likely to happen in the real world and more about the mendacious worldview, toxic prejudices, and treasonous imaginings of the elites themselves.
In one of the simulations, a scenario similar to 2016 was gamed out, with Trump losing the popular vote but winning the right combination of states for an Electoral College victory. John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign chairman and a top adviser to Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, played the role of Biden. According to Ben Smith’s account of the simulation in the New York Times, Podesta-as-Biden refused to concede, saying his party wouldn’t let him and instead alleged voter suppression, persuading the governors of Wisconsin and Michigan to send Biden electors to the Electoral College.
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