Election gaming scenario: Is this what 2020 has been about?

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You think things are bad now with COVID-19 dominating the headlines? Wait ‘til we get to Labor Day, and the focus turns to the 2020 election.

A gaming exercise run by a group calling itself the Transition Integrity Project suggests something akin to civil war could be in the offing.

For all the focus on what would happen if President Trump were to lose, then not willingly cede power, the gaming – conducted by a bipartisan group of D.C. insiders – brings into focus how the president can use the power of incumbency to render the question of what happens if he loses moot.

For example, for all the fears that Trump is stoking with his base about how mail-in voting could be used to “rig” the election against him, what if what he’s doing there is laying the groundwork for electoral boards controlled by Republicans in key swing states to not count mail-in votes?

One scenario in the game went as far as seeing Trump summon his powers as head of the executive branch to just close down post offices to keep ballots from being counted in the first place.

That one might seem far-fetched, but really, if we’ve learned anything from the 2020 that we’ve seen so far, it’s that you can’t discount the possibility of … anything.

Going beyond what the TIP folks learned from their gaming, then, we can see that the problem we have is existential, in the sense that the hodgepodge system created by our founders was designed to make it hard for someone with nefarious intent to manipulate the levers, the issue there being, the founders didn’t envision the current climate.

Separation of powers and state control of the Electoral College only serves as a curb if there isn’t concert between a faux populist candidate for the executive office and sympathetic partisans in Congress and state legislatures.

Throw in the chaos resulting from the populace already taking to the streets in huge numbers in big cities across the country to protest racial and economic injustice, clashing nightly with local and federal law enforcement, and you can see where this could be going.

The George W. Bush campaign had to create the optics of the Brooks Brothers riot in Florida to sway public opinion against the recount in 2000.

The nightly news images of courthouses and police headquarters under siege are a whole ‘nother ballgame in terms of those kinds of optics.

It’s not hard to see the Trump side muddying the waters with chicanery keeping mail-in votes from being counted, a friendly state electoral board or two refusing to certify a contested election leading to an Electoral College challenge, that in turn triggering mass protests nationwide that make what we’ve seen this summer look like a Saturday morning cartoon, ahead of Trump, who is still president until Jan. 20, 2021, whatever happens or doesn’t happen on Election Night, using the power of the presidency to instill order.

You can guess what would happen after a sitting president in a contested election would use what he has at his disposal to instill order.

He ain’t going to hand the keys to the White House to Joe Biden.

Is this what 2020 has been all about?

Story by Chris Graham

         
 

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