So there's a group out there ironically named the Transition Integrity Project, which came together out of fear that President Donald Trump might not leave office if he loses November's election — a conspiracy theory that's been widely touted by leftists and the left-wing media.
And in a Washington Post opinion piece published Thursday, the co-founder of the group described how it constructed a series of "war games" to figure out ahead of time what might happen under various election scenarios.
Oh, don't you worry. Georgetown law professor Rosa Brooks wrote in her piece that the Transition Integrity Project "sought out some of the most accomplished Republicans, Democrats, civil servants, media experts, pollsters and strategists around" to help them with this task — so, of course, it was all fair minded.
What did the group conclude?
Brooks, not surprisingly, broke the news that "a landslide for Joe Biden resulted in a relatively orderly transfer of power. Every other scenario we looked at involved street-level violence and political crisis."
So, how did they get to the scenarios? Well — and again, never fear — the Transition Integrity Project listened to "experts" who offered four election scenarios that are "most likely." Brooks said they are:
- "a narrow Biden win"
- "a big Biden win, with a decisive lead in both the electoral college and the popular vote"
- "a Trump win with an electoral college lead but a large popular-vote loss, as in 2016"
- "a period of extended uncertainty as we saw in the 2000 election"
No Trump landslide scenario, as has been floated as a distinct possibility? Perish the thought.
One might imagine that getting volunteers to play these war games from the Republican side of the aisle would be a challenge — unless the participants despise Trump. And lo and behold, Brooks noted that they secured the likes of "former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele, conservative commentator Bill Kristol and former Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson."
But hey, it's OK. Remember this project's middle name is "integrity."
One wonders if Democrats lined up to participate, but Brooks' piece didn't mention if such enthusiasm was rampant. In the end the group nabbed the likes of John Podesta, who chaired Hillary Clinton's failed 2016 presidential campaign, Donna Brazile, and former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm.
According to Brooks, the remaining participants "included political strategists, journalists, polling experts, tech and social media experts, and former career officials from the intelligence community, the Justice Department, the military and the Department of Homeland Security."
Let the games begin
Here's one scenario outlined in the Post piece:
On the morning of Election Day, false stories appear online claiming that Biden has been hospitalized with a life-threatening heart attack and the election has been delayed. Every mainstream news organization reports that the rumors are unfounded, but many Biden supporters, confused by the bogus claims, stay home.
Still, by late that night, most major networks have called the election for Biden: The former vice president has won key states and has a slender lead in the national popular vote, and polling experts predict that his lead will grow substantially as Western states count an unusually high number of mail-in ballots. The electoral college looks secure for Biden, too.
But Trump refuses to concede, alleging on Twitter that "MILLIONS of illegal ALIENS and DEAD PEOPLE" have voted in large numbers and that the uncounted ballots are all "FAKE VOTES!!!" Social media fills with posts from Trump supporters alleging that the election has been "stolen" in a "Deep State coup," and Trump-friendly pundits on Fox News and OAN echo the message.
Soon, Attorney General William P. Barr opens an investigation into unsubstantiated allegations of massive vote-by-mail fraud and ties between Democratic officials and antifa. In Michigan and Wisconsin, where Biden has won the official vote and Democratic governors have certified slates of pro-Biden electors, the Trump campaign persuades Republican-controlled legislatures to send rival pro-Trump slates to Congress for the electoral college vote.
The next week is chaotic: A list of Michigan and Wisconsin electors for Biden circulates on right-wing social media, including photos, home addresses and false claims that scores of them are in the pay of billionaire George Soros or have been linked to child sex-trafficking rings.
Massive pro-Biden street protests begin, demanding that Trump concede. The president tweets that "REAL PATRIOTS MUST SHOW THESE ANTIFA TERRORISTS THAT CITIZENS WHO LOVE THE 2ND AMENDMENT WILL NEVER LET THEM STEAL THIS ELECTION!!!" Around the nation, violent clashes erupt. Several people are injured and killed in multiple incidents, though reports conflict about their identities and who started the violence.
Meanwhile, Trump declares that "UNLESS THIS CARNAGE ENDS NOW," he will invoke the Insurrection Act and send "Our INCREDIBLY POWERFUL MILITARY and their OMINOUS WEAPONS" into the streets to "Teach these ANTI-AMERICAN TERRORISTS A LESSON." At the Pentagon, the Joint Chiefs of Staff convene a hurried meeting to discuss the crisis.
Yes, you read that correctly.
Brooks even admitted that in each scenario, the war gamers simulating the Trump campaign were "ruthless and unconstrained right out of the gate" and in one instance made "repeated allegations of fraudulent mail-in ballots" that "led National Guard troop [sic] to destroy thousands of ballots in Democratic-leaning ZIP codes, to applause on social media from Trump supporters." (Think Steele and Kristol enjoyed that? Nah.)
Of course, she added, Team Biden repeatedly "urged calm, national unity and a fair vote count, while Team Trump issued barely disguised calls for violence and intimidation against ballot-counting officials and Biden electors."
And while both teams wanted followers to take to the streets, Brooks wrote that "Team Biden repeatedly called for peaceful protests, while Team Trump encouraged provocateurs to incite violence, then used the resulting chaos to justify sending federalized Guard units or active-duty military personnel into American cities to 'restore order,' leading to still more violence. (The exercises underscored the tremendous power enjoyed by an incumbent president: Biden can call a news conference, but Trump can call in the 82nd Airborne.)"
What does the Transition Integrity Project suggest?
In order to "avoid democratic collapse," the Transition Integrity Project has a few ideas — and the first is that officials must "commit to protecting the integrity of the electoral process against partisan meddling."
In addition, Brooks noted that "military and law enforcement leaders can prepare for the possibility that politicians will seek to manipulate or misuse their coercive powers. Partisans, including Trump, may try to deploy law enforcement, National Guard troops and, potentially, active-duty military personnel to 'restore order' in a manner that primarily benefits one party, or involve troops and law enforcement in efforts to interrupt the ballot-counting process."
For whatever reason Biden wasn't mentioned alongside Trump as one of the "partisans." Who knew?
The group also hopes the media can help folks "understand that voter fraud is extraordinarily rare, and, in particular, that there's nothing nefarious about voting by mail."
Brooks noted in conclusion that "if things go as badly as our exercises suggest they might, a sustained, nonviolent protest movement may be America's best and final hope."
Like the sustained, nonviolent protests we've seen so far this summer? The fall is looking better already.