“What if Trump loses but insists he won?”

Max Boot WaPo column:

In our scenario, there was no congressional commission. Instead, the Republican Party bombarded the airwaves with claims of electoral fraud and insisted that Trump had been cheated of victory. The GOP filed suit to prevent the certification of the results. Attorney General William P. Barr, who in real life is already making specious claims about mail-in voter fraud, supported this effort in our mock exercise by claiming to have detected efforts by Chinese intelligence, Antifa terrorists and other enemies of the people to steal the election. The goal was to tie up the proceedings in the courts, initially at the state level, and quickly force the Republican-dominated Supreme Court to intervene.

While this was going on, chaos reigned in the streets, with pro- and anti-Trump activists mobilizing massive protests and violence erupting. Democrats believed that mass protests could force the government to respect the election outcome. But, as Team Trump, we calculated that such chaos would help persuade the Supreme Court to intervene to shut down the dispute. In 2000, even two of the more moderate conservative justices — Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony M. Kennedy — voted to end Florida’s recount and hand the election to George W. Bush. Could we count on Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. — the current swing vote — to resist similar pressure to vote for the “home team”?

The danger of an undemocratic outcome only grows in other scenarios that were “war gamed” by other participants. For instance, what if there is no clear-cut winner on election night, with Biden narrowly ahead in the electoral college but with Michigan, North Carolina and Florida still too close to call? The participants in that war game concluded the result would be “near civil war in the streets.” Far-fetched rumors are enough to bring out armed right-wing militias today; imagine how they would respond if they imagined that there was an actual plot afoot to steal the election from their hero.

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