I do not share the optimism of my friends. Trump is sinking and Biden remains on the rise. But there may be a much deeper story unfolding.

Most of this is covered in Gellman’s article in The Atlantic. Reading his analysis and research would be more valuable than sliding through my bullet points.

Items 10-17 were the disturbing new information for me. 

  1. Perhaps the most important term in our founding documents at the moment is “self-evident.” It suggests there are some things we all acknowledge as true, because we are rational creatures who mostly act in good faith. Part of the rhetorical agenda of Republican rule in the Senate and White House for several years now has been to dismantle and obstruct our notions of what’s honorable, true, and ethical, and focus exclusively on what is permissable (or achievable) under the law. 
  2. The president has created a complete fiction about rampant voter fraud, with zero evidence of any significant instances or systemic threats of widespread fraud. At the same time, the president has rejected the findings of his own intelligence community that Russia and China are interfering in our election. 
  3. The Trump campaign is in the process of recruiting 50,000 volunteers to “monitor and challenge” suspicious voters in critical states, a role that is a thinly veiled effort at widespread voter intimidation.
  4. The administration has taken no effort to address blatant voter suppression techniques, particularly in areas with large numbers of minority voters. 
  5. Surveys show Democrats plan to vote by mail in much greater numbers than Republicans, and in many states, mail-in ballots will likely be counted later than in-person ballots. So, it’s feasible that the election night numbers could favor Trump, with a signficant shift coming in the days following. 
  6. Trump has repeatedly refused to state if he will accept the outcome of the election and concede if he loses. That’s important, because concession by the loser is an important “self-evident” part of the peaceful transition of power.
  7. There is absolutely no reason to believe Republicans will not deploy armies of lawyers to contest thousands of ballots.
  8. The electoral college is scheduled to assemble on December 14 to cast the binding and legal vote for president. 
  9. Take a moment and remember how many of you Democrats wished for “faithless electors” to vote against the result in their state in 2016. 
  10. While it has been the “self-evident” practice for well over 100 years, the U.S. Constitution does not require electors to honor the vote in their state. 
  11. If Trump’s lawyers, in conjunction with Republican state officials, can raise credible evidence of election tampering (I’m not even sure it has to be credible), the administration can petition state legislators to directly appoint their own electors. A number of Republicans at the state level have already confessed having had conversations with the Trump campaign in preparation for this scenario.
  12. State legislatures could appoint electors who vote against the popular will of their state, and the justification will be twofold:  a) we’re securing the true will of the people by circumventing a questionable ballot count (fake news) and relying on the efforts of duly elected legislators; and b) elections have consequences, even if the elections we’re using to justify this circumvention were not federal, or held this year. 
  13. I think at least six of the important swing states have majority Republican legislatures.
  14. If enough electors are appointed that vote against the will of the people, Trump could be declared the victor after having lost by tens of millions of votes. 
  15. Or, it’s possible neither candidate meets the threshold of 270 votes needed to secure the electoral victory, and the decision goes to the U.S. House of Representatives.
  16. Despite the fact that Democrats enjoy a majority in the House, in this case each state would only get a single vote, meaning only 26 votes are needed to gain a majority. 
  17. Even though Democratic legislators represent millions more voters than Republicans, the number of states with majority GOP representation in the House? 26.
  18. If Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed soon, and if all of this goes before the Supreme Court, Trump will have the most sympathetic Court he could imagine.
  19. There is no reasonable scenario where Trump graciously accepts defeat, has a cordial meeting with Biden in the White House, ceremoniously boards the helicopter to fly away from Biden’s inauguration. I might be wrong about this one, but I don’t think I am.
  20. This is why the constant chaos of the last four years that has caused us all to question if anything is true, to see very few things as “self-evident” anymore, works very much to the advantage of the chaos candidate. 

This is why I won’t relax until Biden and Harris are sworn in on January 20th. And even then, I won’t relax. There will be a lot of unrest and a lot of work to do.

Don’t give up. Vote. Convince your friends and family to vote. Vote in person, if you can. And when your part is over, stay vigilant. I am not an alarmist or conspiracy theorist by nature, but if we let this scenario play out as I’ve described here, it could be the end of American democracy as we know it. 

I am not an expert on any of these claims, and I only did a layperson’s amount of research. Please let me know what I’ve gotten wrong. 

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