OPINION | This article contains political commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
There are still 92 days until the 2020 Presidential Election, but Democrats and the media are already trying to figure out how they’ll handle election night. There’s a very real chance that the presidency won’t be determined on November 3, given the push across the nation for increased mail-in voting.
Ben Smith of the New York Times is urging Americans to rethink “election night” (note: his column is behind the NYT’s soft paywall). Smith spends the majority of his 1,600+ word article discussing how the media should cover election night if there’s no victory for them to declare. His conclusion is pretty straight-forward: start preparing viewers now, informing audiences how elections and ballot counting actually work and lowering expectations of a quick result.
Buried in the last three paragraphs of Smith’s column, however, is a report that Democrats have run some potential scenarios on the upcoming election – including one that ended in state secession and potential civil war.
But conveniently, a group of former top government officials called the Transition Integrity Project actually gamed four possible scenarios, including one that doesn’t look that different from 2016: a big popular win for Mr. Biden, and a narrow electoral defeat, presumably reached after weeks of counting the votes in Pennsylvania. For their war game, they cast John Podesta, who was Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, in the role of Mr. Biden. They expected him, when the votes came in, to concede, just as Mrs. Clinton had.
But Mr. Podesta, playing Mr. Biden, shocked the organizers by saying he felt his party wouldn’t let him concede. Alleging voter suppression, he persuaded the governors of Wisconsin and Michigan to send pro-Biden electors to the Electoral College.
I’m not sure the organizers should have been particularly “shocked,” given Podesta’s reticence to concede on Election Night 2016, but I digress.
In that scenario, California, Oregon, and Washington then threatened to secede from the United States if Mr. Trump took office as planned. The House named Mr. Biden president; the Senate and White House stuck with Mr. Trump. At that point in the scenario, the nation stopped looking to the media for cues, and waited to see what the military would do.
In summary: former government officials gamed a potential scenario for the 2020 presidential election that looks EXACTLY like what happened in the 2016 presidential election (the Democrat candidate wins the popular vote while Donald Trump wins the electoral college). But instead of accepting Donald Trump as the duly elected President of the United States, the Democrats refuse, leading to states seceding from the country and, ultimately, another civil war.
I’m confused. I thought we were supposed to be concerned because Donald Trump won’t accept the results if he loses the election. That’s what Democrats have been telling us for years. Now they’re positing a scenario where Joe Biden does exactly what they’ve been claiming Trump will do – and that’s okay? The article doesn’t condemn potential secession and military action; it just mentions the possibility.
This kind of rhetoric isn’t helping anything. It just fans the flames of unrest. The media would do well to point out that we are facing a ridiculously partisan election in the middle of unprecedented times, while encouraging everyone to accept the election results whichever way it turns out. Instead, we have columnists casually suggesting that secession and civil war might be a more palatable option.
We’re in for a long few months ahead.