I asked this question on social media, where I interact with people across the political spectrum: What happens on Nov. 4, 2020, the day after the election?
It’s a legitimate worry. Based on what happened after November 2016, the day after this next election will tell us where our democracy stands. Because we’re setting the stage where whichever side loses they may feel justified in claiming it was rigged or illegal, and the 2020 winner is illegitimate.
This is hardly unfounded considering both what we know and what we are seeing coming. First, on the Left.
Given that the Left and most Democrats have lived at Defcon One since the day after the 2016 election; given that they have called Trump a white supremacist, a racist, a Russian agent, an existential threat to the Republic, and have run from the beginning with the hashtag NotMyPresident; given that Antifa is allowed to grow and even control at times a major U.S. city and other violence has been common; given that Russia will interfere again (which can be assumed because they have for generations); then what can we expect on the day after the election if Trump is victorious?
Will the Left’s fury just be spent and they will attempt an inward evaluation of the Democratic Party as the GOP did in 2012? That doesn’t seem to be the tenor of the revolutionaries and those playing to them.
It seems more likely that there could well be a far worse response from the Left than there has been since 2016. Maybe not just mass demonstrations, but actual riots. After all, four more years of an existential threat, a foreign agent in the White House? Many would feel fully justified in taking extreme actions.
How about on the right?
If over the next 16 months the media continues to act in a blatantly partisan way; if social media increasingly bans, de-platforms and generally cuts off access to Republicans (under the guise of hate speech) while tilting the field to Democrats; if tech companies take conservative websites offline (not just the extremist fringe sites); if Democrats in Congress, no less, continue to dox and put a physical target on the back of Trump and GOP donors; if mainstream media outlets block effective Republican advertisements (essentially, the left greatly reducing Trump and Republicans’ ability to communicate with voters); and then Trump loses, how will the right respond?
There may be a sense of justification for extreme action. It seems less likely, because generally, other than the rather subdued Tea Party movement, conservatives rarely take to the streets and never refuse to accept election results. (Remember, Democrats already have twice this century.)
But we are in somewhat uncharted water. There would arise a fringe element on the right that could react in extra-legal ways. The frustration level would be sky-high if most of the above conditions are in place.
If neither side will accept 2020, then we actually do have an existential threat.
This situation is even more dangerous than a socialist winning the presidency, as horrible as that would be. We have seen over and over how the Framers’ genius has spared us from terrible leadership. However, if the American public does not accept election results, that genius is for naught.
Democrats were right in saying ahead of 2016 — when they were sure Hillary would win — that Republicans and Trump need to accept the results (which was always going to happen) but then unfortunately those Democrats chose not to accept them when Hillary lost. Remember, Hillary still travels around saying she won, just as Democrat Stacey Abrams does after losing the Georgia governor’s race by a handy amount.)
On my social media, everyone on the right said they would accept the results, but almost none of them thought that Democrats would. Most on the left, but given that my connections are not the radical side of the Democratic Party, said they would essentially cry all night and move on. They were not so sure what the right and Trump supporters would do.
My guess, and it is only that, is that if Sen. Kamala Harris or Sen. Elizabeth Warren win the election, the right will essentially accept it, even with all those elements stacked against us. But it’s only a guess.
On the other side, I can barely imagine what the left and Democrats will do if Trump is re-elected, because I could never have imagined the hysteria and violence that has followed his initial election.
What happens Nov. 4, 2020 will tell us where our democracy stands.
Rod Thomson is an author, past Salem radio host, ABC TV commentator, former journalist and is Founder of The Revolutionary Act.