If you spent the last week watching the Democrats on Capitol Hill still arguing about the results of the 2016 election or even threatening to lock up the Attorney General of the United States over it, then you may find it a bit of surprise that they are worried about people not respecting the results of an election.
But that is what happened when Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke to the New York Times. She said she was worried Trump may not respect the results of the 2020 election.
Democrats in several states, you may also recall, are trying to bypass the system we use for electing a president by signing onto an agreement to undermine their own states' voters and cast their electoral ballots for whomever wins the so-called "national popular vote." That is because they think that Hillary Clinton was robbed by the electoral college... or James Comey. Or Wikileaks. Or .. Jon Stewart? So you may be surprised that those Democrats worry about people not respecting the results of an election.
But that is what happened when Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi spoke to the New York Times. She is worried that he might not respect the result.
It may be the case that watching Democrats and commentators on cable news actually refuse to say that Trump is the legitimately elected president as we come up on three years since he was democratically elected has put you in a spot where you'd be surprised to hear that Democrats are deeply concerned about people respecting the results of an election.
But. That. Is what happened. When Pelosi spoke to the New York Times.
"We have to inoculate against that, we have to be prepared for that," Ms. Pelosi said during an interview at the Capitol on Wednesday as she discussed her concern that Mr. Trump would not give up power voluntarily if he lost re-election by a slim margin next year.
Pelosi, to be fair, is in a tough spot with her party. The primary candidates have been playing chicken with outright Marxism, and are in nobody wins contest to out-outrageous each other. From promising free college, healthcare, housing and more to vowing votes for incarcerated terrorists, the 2020 field is driving away from the American electorate so fast they'll never be able to make up the carbon footprint. But Democrat leadership is aware of the precariousness of the party's position.
The public is practically numb to Trump's countless outrages, flaws, and dangers, old news; Democrat outrages, flaws, and dangers are new news, fresh and exciting.
Running to the center after a primary is the move both parties make each cycle .. or at least they did before Trump. If the Democrats don't run at least somewhat back to center they can risk losing the ballgame. And that's the argument Pelosi made.
To the NYT she explained her plan for getting rid of Trump at thge ballot box, which the paper summarized as: "Do not get dragged into a protracted impeachment bid that will ultimately get crushed in the Republican-controlled Senate, and do not risk alienating the moderate voters who flocked to the party in 2018 by drifting too far to the left."
Pelosi can't just sell that to the frothing resistance base, however. In the new Democrat party "electability" is a dirty, probably racist word, even when it's applied to policy preferences. Pelosi needs some way to convince the rabid left that running to the center isn't a compromise, it's another assault against Trump.
The solution, obviously, is to sell them on the idea that Trump won't respect the election result if it's "too close." Even if the argument isn't that convincing. The Times referenced the 2018 midterms, and how Pelosi worried then about the results.
"If we win by four seats, by a thousand votes each, he's not going to respect the election," said Ms. Pelosi, recalling her thinking in the run-up to the 2018 elections.
"He would poison the public mind. He would challenge each of the races; he would say you can't seat these people," she added. "We had to win. Imagine if we hadn't won — oh, don't even imagine.
That somehow was extrapolated. "So, as we go forward, we have to have the same approach," said Pelosi.
It is not clear who Trump would refuse to "seat" in the event he chose to ignore his own loss at the ballot box. But merely raising that specter was enough for the NYT.
Democrats have a tough nut to crack in 2020. The unlikable president and his spectacular economy, and the unlikable Democrats and their plan to destroy it. That's a conundrum.
Pelosi is almost certainly right that running left won't get the job done. But will even this "we have to have a landslide or he'll become King" ploy work to blunt the bloodlust of the activist base?
It remains to be seen. In the meantime, we can at least enjoy the irony.