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  • Writer's pictureSona Chaturvedi

What Happens Next?

Well, it’s here. 

Everything comes down to this. The ELECTION of our lifetime. Tomorrow, poll workers will be working frantically, voters will be standing in long lines, TV pundits will be following every state, trying to project a winner. We will all be watching, tweeting, checking for updates, and fearful of the possibility that it could turn into a colossal catastrophe. But we wait. The big questions on everyone’s minds are will voters turn out, will there be voter intimidation, and will the votes be counted correctly and in a timely manner. But, the biggest question of them all, is what happens if he doesn’t leave? What happens if he refuses to accept a loss? According to legal scholar Lawrence Douglas, author of Will He Go?, the Constitution does not secure the peaceful transition of power. It presumes it. If we have learned anything in the past four years, it is that we can presume no good intention on the part of Donald J. Trump. He is an authoritarian and will stop at nothing to maintain power. His idol, Vladimir Putin, secured victory in Russia last year, while the world laughed at the farcical notion that it was a free-and-fair election. In Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko has stayed in power against the will of his people and in the face of massive street protests. The United States and European Union have each refused to recognize him as that nation's rightful leader. It is precisely how autocrats stay in power. Through chaos, confusion and refusing to accept the electoral results. In our country, the GOP has completely unraveled before our eyes under Trump. It has revealed its playbook to everyone. It used to be kept a secret. They are now saying the quiet parts out loud. For the first time, America is waking up to what Republicans actually stand for, and it isn’t the American people. It’s power, money, control, conservative judges, no financial aid for the people who elected them, and complete hypocrisy. In that small way, Donald Trump did us a favor. We got to see who they really are. Given all this, and with the Supreme Court now firmly tilted to the right, who will stop Trump from seizing power if and when he is defeated tomorrow? It appears no one. Would Congress be able to stop Trump's potential shenanigans? That’s the question. What do WE do now? Right now, the best we can do is an ad-hoc defense of democracy. Begin by rejecting the temptation to think this election will carry on as normal. Something far out of the norm is likely to happen. Probably more than one thing. Expecting otherwise will dull our reflexes. It will lull us into spurious hope that Trump is tractable to forces that constrain ethical incumbents. Both parties are bracing for a torrent of emergency motions in state and federal courts. They have already been skirmishing from courthouse to courthouse in more than 40 states, and Election Day will begin the culminating phase of legal combat.

We must stay vigilant. There is no one who can tell you exactly what is going to happen tomorrow and in the days that immediately follow. Be informed. Have the numbers of all your local officials at your disposal. If you notice or see anything irregular or illegal, alert the authorities. We live in a time where we no longer trust the police to do the right thing, however, remember some do. Some remember the law.

Once again, this has never happened before, and there is no playbook. It’s up to us, the courts and Congress to ensure a fair Joe Biden victory is enforced. Everything else is an open question. When Donald Trump declares he won’t accept the results, he will claim voter fraud and fabricate any number of other falsehoods. The GOP has proven itself useless to stop him. In fact, they have been downright complicit in their attempts to cheat in state after state. Maya Angelou famously once said: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time. People know themselves much better than you do. That's why it's important to stop expecting them to be something other than who they are.” We know who Donald Trump is. We know who his enablers are. That's how we know he and the GOP will almost certainly try to steal the election. They've been attempting to do it for months. Why would they stop now? Our country needs us. It’s a call to action. A few weeks ago, Rachel Maddow asked her viewers what would they do for their country in the final weeks leading up to this election. I say it’s what we do from tomorrow until January, and well after Joe Biden is sworn in, that counts the most. Let us never become complacent or take our democracy for granted again. Now that we know, we can’t unknow how fragile it really is. We must hope for the best and prepare for the worst. The fate of our nation, and our place in history, depends on it.


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