Wondering if Trump Will Leave Office if he Loses the Wrong Question — Losing is His Plan B.
Some may think this article is the result of a kind of PTSD from the 2016 presidential election. In that election, the Democratic candidate, the former Secretary of State and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton had been holding a pretty steady lead over then GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump by anywhere from one to six points. This time though, the spread between Trump and the former Vice-President and current Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden is even wider. Because of this wider gap, many pundits are saying that Trump “knows he’s going to lose”, and claiming that’s why he’s saying all kinds of things about not accepting the election results if he does lose.
The people focused on what Trump will do if he loses seem to have forgotten that Trump said similar about not accepting the election results if he lost during the 2016 election - and that they had the same reaction to it then. We all know how that turned out. So, no, this article is not a PTSD reaction. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting different results. We need a different approach if we want to get Trump out of the White House.
We Can Handle a Trump Loss
As pointed out by Biden, if Trump lost and refused to leave office, the military would be escorting him out of the White House. As for the antics of his base, well, it might be a rough few months, but come January 20th, 2021, we’d have President Biden, and no Attorney General named William Barr. A true return to law and order would begin at once.
This is not to say that Trump will accept the results if Biden wins the Presidency. It’s just that it shouldn’t be the voting majority’s biggest concern. Trump clearly sees contesting the results as his plan B. Think about it. He tried saying that maybe he’d change the date of the election (he can’t), has been telling his voters to try voting twice, and has had the U.S. Postal Service dismantled to curtail voting by mail. All of his actions are about cheating to win, not to lose. We need to be clear about his goal, and consider the fact that voting shenanigans helped him win the first time.
A Review of What Happened in the Summer of 2016.
In 2016 candidate Trump suggested that if he lost the election it would be because it was rigged. At the time, every political operative and news outlet was up in arms. One by one, they proclaimed the sacredness of the U.S. democracy and the historic significance of having a peaceful transition of power.
Then, even though he lost the popular vote, Trump won the electoral college, which gave him the win for the presidency. It was a win no one expected given the polling. At the same time, it was a win few democrats were willing to question. Even if some had concerns, they had just spent months talking about how important it was to honor the election results.
In hindsight though, the timing of Trump’s talk of the election being rigged against him could be seen as the figurative red herring. The democrats had spent so much energy worrying about Trump trying to “delegitimize” the election, that suggesting that his election might not be legitimate could only come off as seeming hypocritical. Yet, even before Trump was inaugurated, there were plenty of things about the circumstances of the 2016 presidential election that warranted questioning the results that put him in office.
Back then, we didn’t have the amount of public-facing information that we do now. Still, we knew that Russia had interfered in our election — and had done so to help Donald Trump. Granted, some say that Russia’s entire goal was simply to undercut the people’s faith in our elections and that Trump winning was just a bonus. That may be true, but it changes none of the following things that we knew then:
1. We knew Russia interfered in our election.
2. We knew it was Trump they preferred.
3. We knew they expected to gain certain things if he did.
These known things should have been enough to give every American pause. Unfortunately, in these partisan times, expressing concern about these things was seen as political instead of being the patriotic thing that anyone worried about the sovereignty of their country would do.
Today we have much more information on what happened in the 2016 election — and we have far more reason to be worried. The facts show that Russian interference likely had the effect of winning the election for Trump. Furthermore, we know they got a ton of information on how to do it better the next time — which is now.
Just Focus on Stopping A Trump “Win” — Period
All of the above is why, in 2020, we need to change the lens of how we look at Trump claiming fraud if he loses. A look at everything he’s doing shows he’s trying to rig things for himself to win, not to set up his loss. As such, Trump losing should not be the big concern of the democratic electorate. What we do need to be focused on is how to keep him from winning — including, as Hillary Clinton has said - not conceding until all the ballots are counted.
Keep in mind that while Russia got lucky beyond their wildest dreams in 2016, they have a lot more incentive now to help Trump “win” a second term. That, along with Trump’s consistently dismal polling numbers, should give everyone a reason to question a Trump win. Biden has taken some steps in this area of questioning the election results by hiring 600 lawyers to deal with post-election issues, which is good.
However, we also need to prepare the electorate for the possibility that a Trump “win” by making it clear that a win by cheating is possible. Contrary to the idea that admitting this would suppress the vote, it needs to be framed as why voting is more important than ever. How to do this is two-fold.
First of all, there needs to be a shift in the narrative that the press has about Trump. The real story is not that Trump is claiming that the election is rigged against him. It’s that Trump, with the help of Russia and the current GOP in power positions, are actively doing everything they can to rig the election for Trump. Let’s just do a quick drill-down on this fact.
Signs That Trump is Cheating
Trump has a tendency of accusing others of what he’s planning to do, or has already done, himself. Here’s just a simple example of that phenomenon: the way he accused — and still accuses — our 44th President, Barack Obama, of playing too much golf while president. Meanwhile, as the 45th president, Trump’s played more than double the amount of golf Obama had at this point in the Obama Presidency.)
Given Trump’s way of telegraphing his intentions, it is likely that all his talk of the election being rigged against him is a huge signal that he’s actually trying to have the 2020 election rigged in his favor. After all, that’s likely why he’s in office now.
Then there’s Trump’s ranting about mail-in voting being a means for the democrats to cheat — which is completely false. Voter fraud by mail has been proven time and time again to be “near impossible.” Meanwhile, he’s literally put in a postmaster general who’s been slowing down the mail and getting rid of mailboxes. Trump taking these actions is likely because Russia helped him win and he wants their help again. That means he needs more people voting in person using the electronic voting machines that we know the Russians were able to hack in 2016. As many have pointed out, including Vice Presidental nominee Kamala Harris, the Russians can’t hack paper ballots.
There’s also the reality that voting by mail leads to more people voting in general. Trump perceives that as a threat because he lost the popular vote by 3 million votes and his election win was a narrow one in the electoral college. As a president who has never broken the fifty percent margin of electoral support, he’s concerned that more people voting will lead to a loss. That makes voting by mail a problem — Russian help or not. Hence the sabotaging of the U.S. mail. Fewer mailboxes mean fewer places to drop off ballots and slow mail means some ballots mailed in a reasonable amount of time might not make it to the local board of elections in time to be counted.
Not everyone that’s part of the GOP’s election machine feels the same way about mail-in voting as the president. There are some who realize that voting by mail has been helpful to both parties. To be fair to Trump though, the evangelical wing of modern GOP decided decades ago that making it easier for more people to vote was bad for them. Since evangelicals form the base of his support, you can’t completely blame Trump’s stance on keeping people from voting on him alone. (That’s a whole other article…)
The Second Thing We Need
Aside from pointing out to the electorate the ways Trump is trying to cheat, democratic operatives need to change their own stance on what it means to be questioning the sanctity of our elections. This means we have to stop pretending that our democracy hasn’t already been compromised. Democrats have to be able to admit that it’s possible Russia changed the outcome of 2016. Aside from former President Jimmy Carter, most public officials on the Democratic side seem loath to address this.
Here’s the thing. Isn’t it better to admit to being wounded by an attack, treat the wound, and shore up your defenses? Not acknowledging that the results of the 2016 election may have been due to tampering allows for Trump to run the same basic plays he did in 2016. Chances are, that will lead to the same situation we are in now: having Donald Trump as president.
With over 200,000 dead in the U.S. due to COVID19 and Trump’s mishandling of this global pandemic — not to mention his lies about it — we know we the nation can’t survive another four years of Donald Trump. So let’s stop worrying about what Trump will do if he loses. Focus on getting out the vote, protesting to get our votes protected, and — in the wake of the untimely death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — protesting to protect the Supreme Court.
That last thing may end up being the most important of all. If in these last four years you’ve protested to protect healthcare, this Judicial appointment is about that. If Trump puts in a partisan choice you can kiss the Affordable Care Act goodbye. Concerned about the environment? Many of Trump’s attacks on environmental regulations that deal with stopping climate change are currently in court. There’s also the issue of a woman’s right to choose — Roe v. Wade. Trump has said the person he appoints will vote to overturn it.
For a minority of voters, the idea of Roe v. Wade may seem like a good thing, but make no mistake, the GOP’s corruption knows no bounds. Trump’s wish to rule as an autocratic leader is well known. Rigging the Supreme Court is just one more step to securing that Trump stays in power — and completely breaks our democracy. He has already stated that he plans to “negotiate” for a third term if he gets re-elected. With the Supreme Court and the Senate stacked with Trump sycophants, he very well could end up landing that final blow to the rule of law.
The Bottom Line: A Trump Win — not a Loss — Would be the Catastrophe
Health care as a right doesn’t matter to a person who only cares about himself. It also doesn’t matter to a party who only cares about themselves and their donors. Their donors only care about staying rich, not whether you can afford the medications and/or vaccination that will keep you alive — or if we have a planet that’s liveable in 30 years. They’ve been circumventing democracy for decades by buying off legislators (via corporate donations to campaigns) and getting them to pass laws that benefit themselves — even if they hurt the public at large.
This time in history is about whether America will stay a democracy that is for all the people, or an oligarchy that doesn’t care about most of them. Will we continue to be a sovereign nation or one that goes even further into following the whims of Russia? All of us, democrats, republicans, and independents have a say in this — so speak up, speak out, and vote like your life depends on it. This year, it actually might.