Feature 11.02.2020 6 minutes

Get Ready for a Fight


The 2020 election won’t be over on Election Day.

On the eve of the 2020 election, this week’s The American Mind Feature is about how to stop “the coup.” No matter what series of unfortunate events is triggered by the initial results of the election this week, these essays will be worth reading and considering carefully for the foreseeable future.

Just as the fantasy that President Trump “stole” the 2016 election by colluding with Russia was manufactured even before he took office, the Left used the ramp up to November 3rd, 2020 to publish countless articles about how President Donald Trump was going to “steal” the election. Further, the narrative breathlessly informed us, President Trump might unlawfully refuse to leave office—and the military might need to remove him.

What’s happening here is obvious: the Democrats used the Wuhan virus as an excuse to change voting rules by means of hundreds of lawsuits before the election. They are set to spring hundreds more lawsuits after the election. They muddied the waters such that it would not be clear who won on election night. As Kimberly Strassel said this weekend in the Wall Street Journal, in case of anything outside of a landslide victory for Joe Biden, the fallback safety position for the Democrat party is “May the best lawyer win.” And if in the contested aftermath of a close election Trump refuses to quickly concede and let them win, they will sow confusion and chaos, putting thousands of protestors in the streets across America claiming he is unlawfully refusing to leave office.

The Left’s claims about how Trump was going to “steal” the election read as a kind of projection of what the Left was willing to do to win, as revealed by the activities of the Transition Integrity Project (TIP). The project consisted of a war game involving Democrat heavyweights, extensive deliberation and planning on the part of countless activist groups, and an instructive final report that serves as a game plan for the Democrat Party. It made clear that heady talk of secession may become increasingly mainstream.

In early September, The American Mind published our colleague Michael Anton’s “The Coming Coup” warning of the purpose of the Left’s latest “stolen election” narrative. His incisive analysis hit home.

As we outlined in “Stop The Coup”, as Anton’s article began rapidly spreading around the nation, most mainstream media tried to avoid the subject. But his article was so successful that hit pieces and lies about the Claremont Institute and Anton began to crop up all over the digital landscape. An outraged TIP co-founder said Anton deserved to be executed by firing squad. Ryan Williams, President of the Claremont Institute demanded he and his employer denounce violence and apologize. In “From Death Threats To Lies”, Anton himself dissected the counteroffensive.

But it was too late for the Left to avoid the spotlight that right-leaning media began to shine on the coup narrative. Earlier this month, a worried New York Times chimed in, sounding the alarm twice in one week. In “Riled Up: Misinformation Stokes Calls for Violence on Election” Day,” Davey Alba unintentionally wrote our next letter to The American Mind donors about the power of Anton’s warning: “[Anton’s] article was the tipping point for the coup claim. It was posted more than 500 times on Facebook and reached 4.9 million people…Right-wing news sites such as The Federalist and DJHJ Media ramped up coverage of the idea, as did Mr. [Dan] Bongino.”

The fact we called out the obvious angered the Left so much that our publication was used as an example of why political speech needs to be regulated by American elites and Big Tech. In the New York Times Magazine, Emily Bazelon questioned America’s commitment to free speech with a kind of faux-earnestness while pining for European methods of shutting down dissent deemed dangerous by the ruling class. The existence of any media that might expose the Left’s coup narrative was unacceptable: “Democrats were ‘laying the groundwork for revolution,’ Anton wrote without evidence in The American Mind, a publication of the Claremont Institute. He warned that ballots harvested ‘lawfully or not’ could tip close states to Biden.”

This is, of course, ridiculous. Anton simply told people what the Democrats have been saying for months, quoting their own words. And the changes in voting procedure the Democrats have forced in courts across the nation are intended to change the rules so as to help them win: read Hans Von Spakovsky’s “Democrats Versus the Vote” if you want to understand the ongoing legal battles about to blow up after election day.

The Democrat Party’s overarching intent is to create a situation in which a close presidential race triggers a narrative and political trap that helps the Democrats win. For the Left, causing confusion and chaos in the event of a close race is the point. If you haven’t read the expert analysis of John Yoo and Robert Delahunty laying out “What Happens if No One Wins?” to prepare yourself, you should do so now. Their point, I take it, is that in the midst of the coming madness there are many political maneuvers that might become necessary in the near future that you may not be familiar with—but are nonetheless lawful and constitutional.

In her New York Times essay, Bazelon went on to lament that “By mid-September, Anton’s article was one of the most-shared links in extremist online communities.” Apparently, “Dan Bongino, a podcaster and Trump supporter”, was one of those “extremists”. He dared to speak about “Anton’s essay and the imagined coup in several videos” and, heaven forfend, “Just two of the videos pulled in at least six million views.” For Bazelon and friends, the fact that millions of people are reading and listening to our political analysis is an outrage. Expect peak censorship of anything contradicting the narrative this week.

The question of the hour, however, as we asked in “No Coup for You”, is: what are Republicans going to do about all this? When I spoke with Glenn Beck on his radio show to ask the question, the overwhelming response from concerned citizens throughout the nation convinced me that many on the base understood the situation and were ready to organize. The Trump rallies before Election Day reflect this. Even though the American Right does not have the leaders, organizations, and infrastructure required for what is to come (while the Left does), it is clear that red America is done taking the aggression, violence, and gaslighting of the last four years lying down. Something has finally been awakened, and the events of this week will solidify this newfound awareness and willingness to act.

For our part, the Claremont Institute and the Texas Public Policy Foundation held our own election war game and issued our own report. Our conclusion was that while what happens this week might lead the nation into a protracted political war, the Constitution of the United States provides for such a scenario. And the American Right needs to hold fast and fight accordingly.

On the eve of the election, the headlines in mainstream media reveal that after changing the rules about voting midstream, the Left is now preparing to fight every vote. They claimed it was racist, dangerous, and unfair to simply hold the vote on Election Day according to established law. But if they are losing in the coming days it will turn out that following their new rules regarding correctly filling out mail-in ballots, etc. is also racist, dangerous, and unfair.

The coming conflict will not only be fought in the courts. And despite all the predictions, the truth is, no one quite knows what will happen between election and inauguration day. But it is past time to prepare for an historic political battle that will require unprecedented political mobilization and action.

To that end, we present the following three articles.

Edward Luttwak wrote the handbook on coups in 1969; he ponders our current situation in “How Trump Survives a Coup.”

In “To Stop the Coupsters, Divide and Conquer,” J. Michael Waller, Senior Director for Strategy at the Center for Security Policy, outlines a strategy for President Trump and his allies.

Kyle Shideler, an expert on Antifa (read his work here, especially “The Real History of Antifa” and his remarks to the Senate Judiciary Committee), asks the question of the hour: “Can the Right Win a 2020 Election ‘Street Fight’?

It is our fervent hope that it will not be necessary, but we will update this Feature as events unfold in the coming days, weeks, and months.

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

The American Mind is a publication of the Claremont Institute, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, dedicated to restoring the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life. Interested in supporting our work? Gifts to the Claremont Institute are tax-deductible.

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