Skip to main content
Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

Donald Trump has made so many outrageous, over-the-top statements since his 2016 election, that by now most of us have become sufficiently numbed by them to no longer react to his words as we should. But now, during the 2020 presidential campaign, he has made what are surely his most alarming statements. He has, in numerous ways, made it abundantly clear that he will do everything he can to continue being the President of the United States long after the November 3rd Presidential election, no matter who actually receives the most votes in that election.

Furthermore, with Trump now testing positive for Covid-19, and its limiting impact on his ability to campaign, he and his gang will be willing to employ ever-more outrageous means to keep him in office. And so if we do not overcome our numbness, understand that he is serious, and do all within our power to thwart Trump’s desire to become America’s ruler, rather than its president, he could well succeed.

If he does, what little is left of American democracy will have been lost. And what this will mean not only for this country, but for the world, is incalculably horrific.

Numerous publications have examined and explained the multiple ways that the true results of the November 3rd election can be undermined or overcome. One of the best pieces is to be found in the November issue of TheAtlantic magazine, in an article by Barton Gellman. I believe any fair reading of it, and other published articles on the matter, makes it clear that Trump & Company are not only prepared to do all that they can to continue his presidency, but given the multiple options and pathways open to them, their odds of succeeding are better than many of us care to admit.

Among these options and pathways are:

  • A misleading election night appearance of a Trump victory before millions of mail-in ballots are counted, with various right-wing media outlets declaring a Trump victory and his supporters taking to the streets in celebration;
  • Republican “poll watchers” and other Trump followers, intimidating voters and poll workers, alike;
  • Democratic Party filed election related lawsuits heard by Republican appointed judges;
  • a 6-3 conservative-ruled Supreme Court at the top of the country’s judicial food chain;
  • more Republican-controlled than Democratic-controlled state legislatures deciding who to award their state’s Electoral College votes to;
  • Republican state legislatures who keep passing more and more Jim Crow styled laws designed to make it ever more difficult for Democratic Party leaning voters to be able to cast their votes; and,
  • should the decision of who won the election be left to Congress, in the House each state delegation gets one vote, no matter the size of the delegation, and there are more Republican controlled state delegations than Democratic ones.

Bill Maher recently interviewed Senator Bernie Sanders After pointing out, as I have, the strong position that Republicans will be in during the battle over who our next President will be, he asked Sanders if he really thought the Democrats have as much power and as many options as the Republicans have to determine the election outcome. Sanders’ tried to argue that they did, but was more than vague when pressed by Maher for details. Sanders finally said, in what for Sanders was a less than spirited tone of voice, that it would ultimately be up to the American people to prevent such a coup.

Sanders was wrong about the relative power of the Democrats and the Republicans to determine the outcome of this presidential election. Clearly, the Republicans have more power, more options. And I wish Sanders had been more passionate in urging we the people to take to the streets to prevent a stolen election.

This election will be unlike any we have seen in our lifetimes. And it will be taking place at a time of deep divisions in America; deep tribalism that has already provoked violent clashes between those with diametrically opposed political views. In recent months, the Black Lives Matter movement has spawned the most geographically and demographically diverse and sustained anti-racism movement in the streets that this country has ever experienced. But as a result of agent provocateurs, and right-wing infiltrations, that movement has now experienced several violent confrontations.

Right-wing, religious, para-military, and neo-Fascist groups have grown in strength and in their willingness to publicly engage in violent confrontations aimed at defeating the anti-racist movement, and defeating the left, in general. Larry Bartels, in an article in the September 15th issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, noted that a recent survey showed that 50% of Republicans said they believe the traditional American way of life is disappearing so fast that they may have to use force to save it.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

In the first Presidential debate, Trump again refused to say he would honor the election results, again refused to condemn white supremacy, and when asked about the hate group, the Proud Boys, said they should “stand back and stand by.” And within minutes the Proud Boys thanked Trump for his support, understood his words as a not-so-coded message of support, and made his words part of their logo.

We would be foolish to think that protesters from both the Trump and Biden side of the equation will not take to the streets if there is a prolonged process of deciding the victor in the November election. Foolish to dismiss the growing fear that those protests may often turn violent. Foolish to dismiss the frequently-expressed fear that such violent classes between protesters may even result in a new civil war. (See, Mike Giglio’s article in the September 30th issue of The Atlantic, entitled, “Right Wing Militias Are Bracing for Civil War: Pro-Trump Group Has Recruited Thousands of Police, Soldiers, and Veterans”.) 

For all of the above reasons, we must ask ourselves, “What is the most effective thing that we, the progressive people of America, can do to stop any attempted coup by Trump & Company?”

The progressive movement must also utilize the greatest tool at our disposal: a massive, sustained, and militant presence of our people in the streets of America.

So far, the main suggestion as to what we should do, coming from liberal groups and the more liberal media, is to register and vote in unprecedented numbers. And that’s fine. But for the many reasons I’ve cited, we would be foolish and negligent to assume that a heavy voter turnout will be enough to guaranty that we’ve prevented a Trump coup.

I think we must do a hell of a lot more than vote. I think that the progressive movement must also utilize the greatest tool at our disposal: a massive, sustained, and militant presence of our people in the streets of America. And especially in Washington, D.C. We must be prepared to do what millions of people did during the “Arab Spring.” We must be willing to gather in huge numbers and occupy America’s streets, and its Capitol, with a greater degree of determination, and with greater numbers of us than we have ever done before. This is an unprecedented dangerous moment in America, and it calls for an unprecedented massive, sustained, and militant presence in the streets.

I realize, of course, that I am calling for a huge mobilization of people in the streets during the Covid-19 pandemic. It could be said that it is irresponsible of me to do so. Of course, the same could be said of the call to action by the Black Lives Matter movement, when millions poured into the streets for a mobilization that continues to this day and, hopefully, will continue until victorious. Despite the general wearing of face masks by BLM protesters, there was little social distancing and, I suspect, many of the protesters fell ill to Covid-19. Just as those who gathered as they did during the Arab Spring, risked losing their lives at the hands of repressive government police and military forces.

Certainly, we should not be critical of anyone who decides they cannot safely participate in the street-actions that I am proposing. I, as an 82-year old guy, as well as many, many others, will no doubt be called upon to support such a mobilization in a variety of different ways, but without joining it in the streets.

So, mindful of the risks involved, but before it is too late, leaders in the Black Lives Matter, immigrant rights, climate change, women’s, LGBTQ+, and labor movements, should join in a united call for the occupation of America on election day and thereafter, until the honest results of the election have determined who the next President is, and he is safely installed in office.

 I realize I am asking for something that is unprecedented. But given the clear and imminent threat facing us; given the folly of expecting our government to save us; given the certainty of right-wing, hate-filled, paramilitary and neo-Fascists groups mobilizing in support of any Trump coup attempt, what choice do we have?

It will be far better to try to do this and fail, than not to even try. If it turns out what I am calling for was not needed, so much the better. But if, as is all too likely, it was needed, we will be ready for the fight!

jim lafferty 300

And in issuing the unitedprogressive m ovement call that I am advocating, the call, itself, will serve as a deterrent to Trump’s plans. And whether it turns out to be needed, or not, we will have shown ourselves the potential power of a united progressive movement. And in doing so, we will have also served notice on America’s ruling elite that we, not they, are America’s future!

Jim Lafferty