Last week, reports that Donald Trump won’t commit to a peaceful transition of power made the rounds, and the hashtag #TrumpCoupPlot started trending.
Trump refusing to promise a peaceful exit from the White House isn’t breaking news—the president has insinuated several times that he intends to question the election results. But as the vote draws nearer, media coverage of the time bomb that will be the 2020 election has ramped up considerably.
Donald Trump insinuates that he won’t trust mail-in ballot results in the video below.
While Trump nor Biden have explicitly promised to question the outcome of this year’s election, they’ve both injected just enough mistrust into the public that no matter what happens, the voters undoubtedly will.
Both candidates have given their supporters reason to doubt the integrity of the other side—from so-called fraudulent mail-in ballots to a planned coup involving a last-minute Supreme Court appointment, no one is expecting the election results to be fair.
That leaves America at a dangerous crossroads, one in which every possible scenario ends with rioting and unrest. Scarier still, it undermines the democratic principles the country was built on. If half of the country believes the newly elected administration cheated their way in, how can they be expected to endure four years under their power?
The new administration will be immediately responsible for potentially life-changing decisions –from combatting the coronavirus to whether a new vaccine is safe to administer.
Perhaps more immediately is the worry of rioting in the wake of the election. That’s especially likely between November and the end of the year, as we saw 20 years ago when Al Gore contested George W. Bush’s win. That time, it took 36 days to confirm a winner.
Usually, the majority of the votes are ‘called’ on election night. This year, things could be harder to ‘call’ because of the number of mail-in ballots due to the pandemic.
To make things more complicated, each state has its own set deadline for mail-in ballots to be submitted. California, for example, will accept any ballot postmarked by election day—meaning the state could be tallying votes well past election night. Plus, most states don’t even begin to count mail-in ballots until all in-person votings conclude.
It’s a recipe for disaster. Voting by mail is expected to lean toward Biden , while Trump could lead among in-person voters. That opens the door for Trump to hold a significant lead on election night, only to be overtaken by Biden in the days that follow as mail-in votes are counted.
With Trump casting doubt on the legitimacy of mail-in voting, it will be difficult to convince his supporters that Biden won days later.
On the flip side, a Trump victory doesn’t guarantee a peaceful transition of power either. Most of the president’s opponents have been questioning his tactics from the start.
From his attacks on the postal service to recent allegations that he’s considering sidestepping the voting process in battleground states, a clear Trump victory is likely to set off just as much unrest as a Biden one.
It doesn’t matter what happens on election night, because no one trusts the process. After months of hearing about all the ways each side could cheat their way into the White House, why should they? America is marching toward a breaking point that could change its politics forever.