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Dark clouds over 2020 race

As the nation prepares to celebrate the 244th anniversary of its independence, it is worth remembering how fragile a construct democracy can be.

With the country led by a president who ignores the norms of the office set by the 44 men who proceeded him, the American people cannot have confidence they will witness the peaceful transition of power that they have come to unquestionably expect.

President Trump has dismissed several inspectors general, the impartial watchdogs charged with keeping governance free of corruption. He has in William Barr an attorney general who acts in the interests of the president and his friends, rather than lead a Department of Justice that enforces law with impartiality.

The president tweeted only recently that “2020 will be the most RIGGED Election in our nations (sic) history,” alleging without evidence that a wider use of mail-in ballots — to allow more people to vote safely during a pandemic — would open the door to massive voting fraud.

This sounds like a president, unlike any prior presidents, who is laying the groundwork to reject the results if they do not go in his favor and use the substantial powers of his office to attack the credibility of his opponent’s victory. Trump’s term would not end until the Jan. 20 inauguration.

A bipartisan group, called the Transition Integrity Project, recently conducted presidential election “games,” much as the military conducts war-game scenarios, arriving at various outcomes based on how role players respond to events. Financial Times reporter Edward Luce, who took part in his media role, described the outcome in a recent article, "How America could fail its democracy test."

In three out of four scenarios, the nation ended up in constitutional crisis. In one scenario, mass demonstrations and national strikes greeted a narrow and controversial Trump electoral college victory despite his losing the popular count by several million votes.

In two other scenarios, Trump was extrapolated as working with Republican governors and legislators, and using his attorney general, to undermine close Joe Biden wins and deny his opponent the electoral college votes necessary to claim victory.

This is hardly far-fetched. An overwhelming Biden victory in the popular and electoral vote offers the greatest promise of smooth transition. Every vote will count. Americans must prepare and be ready to stand up for their democracy.

 

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, Managing Editor Tim Cotter, Staff Writer Julia Bergman and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.

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