National Commentary

When Trump Won’t Concede

I am among those Washington, D.C. orbited political junkie sorts who often desire the more cerebral and thoughtful forms of Sunday morning political talk shows, and so one of my favorite options is CNN’s Farid Zakaria’s GPS, or “Global Public Square” as he calls it. It’s less partisans spewing their predictable lines in a combative framework that I guess major network geniuses have decided generate better eyeball counts and thus prefer.

I met Zakaria in 2012 and found him brilliant and articulate, then as always carrying himself in a thoughtful manner, with little or no histrionics getting in the way of a rational dialogue or discourse.

So, I spilled my coffee last Sunday when Zakaria opened his show with another reasonable commentary, but this time it was about how plausible it is that there will be total pandemonium on this coming presidential election night, November 3, with a president who refuses to accept defeat.

Yes, the turning point we are reaching, now under 50 days before the election, is that we must take deadly seriously that President Trump will “not go peacefully into that good night” of a projected electoral defeat.

We’ve heard those formerly around Trump tell us he is not going to let the election stop him from continuing his presidency, such as his former confidant, fixer and attorney Michael Cohen, who knows Trump and what makes him tick better than most.

Zakaria quoted a recent article by Dan Baer of the Carnegie Endowment, a nonprofit, titled, “How Trump Could Refuse to Go.”

In that context, he quoted a Trump tweet after the November 2018 midterms, when early returns showed the GOP holding its own, but after all the provisional and absentee ballots were counted, the Democrats wound up gaining over 40 seats in the House. Trump tweeted then that “results must go with election night.”

This November 3, as Zakaria notes, projections are that as of that election night, Trump could have a significant enough lead that if all ballot counting stopped right then, he would have a majority of Electoral College votes to win.

That’s because an enormously higher percentage of Democrats are likely, according to polling, to mail in their ballots or vote absentee this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic and their uncommonly motivated passion for defeating Trump with a very high turnout.

But Trump has already made it clear that he is already seeking to discredit and destroy confidence in mail-in voting, and he’s got his sidekick in crime, Attorney General William Barr, already echoing his line and perhaps preparing to void all ballots not cast and counted as of 11:59 p.m. on Election Night by pronouncing the election far too tainted to permit of anything else.

Barr has shown himself to be willing to engage in such treachery in the name of the Opus Dei theocracy he hopes to help bring about. Barr is more dangerous to democracy than Trump, who only wants to assuage his own clinically insane ego, because he’s driven by a fanatical religious belief system. Trump won’t die for anything, but Barr likely would.

So, if Trump and Barr were intending to steal the November election in this way, or something like it, there is no doubt there would be rioting in the streets. But that’s all part of the plan. Sources among security details at the White House report discussions about how to prepare for a literal “storming of the gates” of the White House in the wake of Trump being declared the winner.

Zakaria, while not describing the scenario as I have put it forth here, says that the election outcome may wind up in the hands of John Roberts, chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, He may be the decisive swing vote, as he often is, on that body to declare the winner maybe not until January 2021.
However, even then, that ruling may not be accepted by a large enough percentage of the population such that some exercise of force may be required.

The fact is that this is a plausible, not crazy, scenario, and who in defence of our democracy is preparing and planning for it?

Nicholas Benton may be emailed at