Everything hinges on 11/3/2020
Recently we’ve been getting a lot of comments asking our thoughts about how the Presidential election will play out this year. So after doing research in preparation for this blog, we found an interesting bipartisan report which we think does a solid job of outlining various scenarios that will likely play out. In June twenty-twenty, the Transition Integrity Project convened a bipartisan group of over one hundred current and former senior government and campaign leaders and other experts in a series of twenty-twenty election crisis scenario planning exercises. These roughly one hundred individuals game roomed five main scenarios just like the Pentagon does in its war rooms.
The results of all four table-top exercises were alarming. They concluded that there was an extremely high degree of likelihood that November’s elections will be marked by a chaotic legal and political landscape, violence in the streets, and a Constitutional crisis like we’ve never faced in our country before. The days between November third and, at a minimum, to inauguration day on January twentieth could be the most challenging days our nation will ever face.
In some scenarios, the unraveling of the United States completely and a power struggle is a real possibility. Will the seventy-eight days between election night and inauguration day be America’s last days? In this video, we will look at the five scenarios explored by this bipartisan group and explore ways we can prepare ourselves to survive through the chaos.
Why There is A Problem?
The concept of “election night” is no longer accurate. The space between the casting of the first votes actually in mid-September through to inauguration day on January twentieth, was always to allow for an accurate and thorough counting of votes and to allow any newly appointed president enough time to travel from their state and transition to their duties in Washington, D.C. Though many think a clear winner is projected on election night, that isn’t always the case. In fact, it has become increasingly unlikely. This year state lockdowns might hamper access to polling places. Mail-in voting will be more widespread than ever due to the pandemic and might suffer from fraud. Foreign governments might try to hack into state electoral systems or even try to clandestinely start riots in cities to dissuade turnout. In addition, votes might prove so close that reliable and accurate recounts cannot occur in time. Under the Constitution, Congress sets the date of the election — November third of this year. The Constitution also establishes the deadline for states to send in their electoral votes, which is December fourteenth of this year.
Even with a landslide clear projected winner, the disruption between any peaceful transition of power or the continuation of power of the current administration already looks to not be guaranteed. Seventy-eight days is a long time for chicanery, chaos, executive orders, media narratives, political leaders encouraging supporters to take up arms, congressional acts, court cases, accusations, blame games, and protests that are met with heavy-handed federal responses. If there is a crisis, events will unfold quickly, and sleep-deprived leaders will be asked to make consequential decisions quickly.
With that being said, let’s examine five possible scenarios and outcomes that may play out beginning November third.
Scenario One: No Clear Winner in the Morning
The worst possible scenario of the five covered here is that there isn’t a clear projected winner on the morning of November fourth. The power of congress to navigate such a crisis might be compounded by its own uncertainty of which party will assume power. Typically, new congressional members are sworn in within the first ten days of January as outlined in the constitution, but in a close congressional outcome and in the days following an election where both presidential candidates claim power, the smooth transition of government isn’t guaranteed.
In the event of a close race that’s unclear in the morning, there will be calls for recounts in some states; there will be efforts to halt the counting of mail-in ballots or efforts to stop the counting of ballots and declare a winner; either party may seek to misrepresent the facts and cast aspersions on the process; there will be efforts to turn out the party’s base to the streets; there will be media spin echoing and amplifying the chaos and forcing the American population to pressure leadership to take action and deliver an outcome; there could be organized work strikes and stoppages; there may be actions by the federal government to quell violence, force outcomes, or even seize mail in ballots to ensure State officials stop counting ballots.
In a time where chaos boils over into the streets in the hours after some events, what will seventy-eight days of uncertainty and anger bring? You have to prepare now for a possible long term lockdown of at least these eleven weeks. If the streets are not safe, food supply lines are stymied, stores may be looted by opportunistic individuals taking advantage of the chaos for their own gain. Fire and police services may be occupied and engaged elsewhere when you need them. Water and power might even be knocked offline for a long period of time.
Scenario Two: Joe Biden Clearly Wins the Popular & Electoral College Votes
In the event of a clear margin win of both the popular and electoral college votes by Joseph Biden, America may still be spun into an extended period of chaos. While, traditionally, a transition team is formed and works with the outgoing administration to effect a peaceful, constructive, and informed transition of power, there is no guarantee that the current president will accept the results of a Joe Biden victory.
The current administration could use its seventy-eight remaining days in office to contest election results, ignore election results, or even adopt some type of poison pill strategy to completely prevent the possibility of a transition of power. Already, from allegations of voter suppression to claims of voter fraud the seeds of chaos are being planted by both sides.
A Joseph Biden win could pave the way for inquiries into the actions of the Trump administration, possible further litigation and judgements. Donald J. Trump would assuredly use his position for the remaining seventy-eight days to guarantee himself immunity from further investigations or prosecution. What measures might he take, and what repercussions might those efforts have? Is a peaceful transition of power guaranteed in a clear Joseph Biden victory given what we have already witnessed today?
Scenario Three: Donald Trump Wins Electoral Vote But Again Loses the Popular Vote
Similar to the twenty-sixteen election and the two-thousand election, it’s an increasing probability that a candidate can lose the popular vote and still win an electoral vote. In two-thousand we saw some courthouses overrun and some small pockets of chaos. In twenty-sixteen we saw post election protests of thousands and thousands of people taking to the streets. What would twenty-twenty bring in an already conflicted and tumultuous environment?
In the previous two elections where this scenario played out, we also didn’t have riots, looting, or armed civilians in the streets. Now, some elements of the armed Right are taking to the streets to face protestors. Some on the Left see this election as the last chance to stop a rapid and potentially irreversible US decline into authoritarianism and unbridled nativism and have also taken to the streets. Amid these two very divergent sides, opportunistic fometers of chaos on both sides are advocating for the destruction of the US government establishment all together. The result has been looting, riots, arson, and altercations that seem to get worse and worse, more deadly and destructive everyday. Absent a call for unity, could a spark by either side detonate a powder keg of death and destruction across America?
An election by the electoral college without the results matching the popular vote, could be such a spark. It is far from a guarantee of a peaceful outcome. A conflict between these votes could create the atmosphere to further contest election results or processes; and, again, these conflicts could boil over into cities and towns across America. States with distinct party control could choose to stop vote counting or forcibly continue vote counting against the Federal government’s mandates. As states rebel from federal will is another Civil War possible? At the very least, these conflicts and altercations could lead to constitutional crises, judicial rulings, and congressional battles. They could result in eleven or more weeks of chaos swirling around your and in your peaceful neighborhoods.
Scenario Four: Joe Biden Wins Electoral & Popular Votes By Narrow Margins
A Joseph Biden victory but with narrow margins would assuredly result in significant spin and push back from the current administration. The current administration has floated the idea that any close race may not be accepted. And, we have all seen how the mainstream media and fringe news outlets can sew division and stoke the fires of confusion.
A narrow margin win, really, by either candidate would lead to chaos and could lead to violence. There is a significant possibility of simultaneous street mobilizations by both Trump and Biden supporters, in which case the possibility for violence will increase significantly, and the actions of law enforcement will become critical. Significant opportunities for government overreach and seizure of your power as a citizen can be done in the name of “restoring order” or “protecting property.”
Given a narrow Biden victory, would the Trump administration focus on their own self-preservation, quickly rush to pardon everyone by resigning early and letting the vice president hastily pardon everyone, or even spark a foreign conflict to divert attention away from contested results? Would an outgoing administration destroy potentially incriminating evidence or seek to disrupt the transition process? Nobody can really know with any certainty how either parties will act in a narrow margin victory. Nobody has a crystal ball for this one, but studied experts with far more experience than you or I with these matters are unanimously concluding that we’re in for a very, very rocky road.
Scenario Five: Donald J. Trump Wins Electoral & Popular Votes By Narrow Margins
Though there are many scenarios that we can’t fully cover in this video, another probable outcome is a Donald J. Trump win of both the electoral and popular votes. Though a landslide might also be possible, if there is any validity at all to any polls, a win would likely be more by narrow margins, so that’s what we’ll look at here.
After the twenty-sixteen election, thousands of citizens poured out into the streets upset that their popular vote did not coincide with the electoral vote. Even with a clear win of both votes, it would be reasonable to assume that the same outpouring of citizenry would occur. The difference this year, however, is that there already are protests in the streets. Unemployment is at an all time high and benefits are expiring while rents and mortgages are becoming increasingly overdue. Government is still quite divisive, but in twenty-twenty parties seem to have stopped trying to work together at all and the people are more disillusioned and apt to anger. What happens when an angry, hungry, and poor population pours out into the streets and is met by a president who ran on a platform of “law and order” countering with heavily armed federal forces?
Also in twenty-twenty, we have already witnessed a president who feels comfortable pulling federal funding, if he believes it necessary, from Democratically governed States. If states held up vote counting or refused to stop vote counting at the hest of the Department of Justice and the president, is it possible that the president might halt the flow of federal funding to these states? Could these states then retaliate by halting the flow of money into the federal coffers. This scenario with just two states could reveal an even greater conflict. The Democratically run states of California and New York makeup twenty-two-point-seven percent of gross domestic product and eighteen percent of the United States’ population. Are we at a point where the federal government will trounce state autonomy or state’s will toy with the idea of succession? We don’t really know, but if twenty-twenty taught us anything it is to expect that anything can happen, so I don’t think we can rule the possibility out.
There are far more possibilities and scenarios than the five discussed here. The possibility of a hostile foreign country or terrorist organization detonating explosives and leaving both political parties pointing the finger of blame at each other but keeping people away from the polls wasn’t explored here, but foreign agitators remain a possibility. Our nation’s enemies aren’t taking a break to let us have a peaceful vote. Voting machine hacking, the intentional destruction of ballots, or people intentionally voting both by mail and in-person wasn’t explored here. In a different time, voting twice would have resulted in criminal charges and the invalidation of both votes; however, we live in a time where the president of the United States has just suggested, or joked, or whatever you want to call it that the people of North Carolina do just that– vote twice. We live in a time where the attorney general followed up by saying he wasn’t sure if voting twice would be illegal. There are countless scenarios and we have only explored five likely possibilities here. None of them really end well, so you need to be aware of how this can jeopardize your safety and threaten your survival in the immediate future. If voting is important to you and you don’t trust the mail system right now, consider completing a ballot and taking it in-person to your county election office days before November third. This will keep you safe from any chaos in the streets on election day.
Do plan for a contested election right up to and possibly even after January twentieth. There likely will not be an election night winner, and neither party is going into this election willing to accept defeat. The seventy-eight days between election night and inauguration could undo over two-hundred and forty years of America’s nation building. Before food supply lines and distribution methods are jeopardized, make sure your supplies are in order. Make sure you have a means to store and purify drinking water. Make sure you have a means to produce heat for winter if you live in colder climates. Prepare now for what is shaping up to be the most volatile election of our lifetimes.
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As always, please stay safe out there.