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Mon Sep 14, 2020, 02:45 PM

The Winter of Our Discontent: projecting the 78 harrowing days after the election.

This is a horror story.

Maybe you think that way about the past three years: the corrupt self-dealing, the fusillade of lies and ignorance, the corporate handover of the regulatory state, the authoritarian repression. The oncoming election may provide you with a crack of hope for America to reverse what many consider a grave mistake.

But while Election Day will signal the end of a campaign, it’s not the end of Donald Trump’s term in office.

The 78 days from November 3 to January 20, known as the transition, have kept me awake at night since I started reporting out this article. The coming interregnum is likely to be one of the most politically, economically, and socially fraught periods in American history, one that could set the trajectory for the nation’s future. “If you think things cannot possibly get worse, trust me, they can,” Michelle Obama counseled in her Democratic Convention speech. Trust me on that as well; they will, immediately after the election.



Even with an overwhelming Biden victory that Trump would be forced to accept, he would retain immense power to undermine the transition, the 11 weeks between the election and the inauguration. Trump will retain full control of the executive branch for this period, and his cooperation will be crucial to a peaceful transfer of power. U.S. history offers plenty of examples of tolerable handovers. Barack Obama’s transition team was inside agencies within two days of his election victory. President Eisenhower briefed John F. Kennedy on the Bay of Pigs invasion preparations during the transition.

But Trump critics strongly suspect his attention won’t be focused on putting Biden in a position to succeed. “I can’t imagine them cooperating at all,” said Mike Lux, a veteran of both the Clinton and Obama transitions. “Trump has violated pretty much every unwritten norm out there.”



The Biden team, likely to be one of the most prepared to enter government in history, with a vice president just four years removed from the executive branch, could weather a lot of this. (Ted Kaufman, the transition chair, co-authored the law that improved presidential transitions.) With only 50 Senate votes needed to confirm executive branch appointees, opportunities for quickly advancing his Cabinet selections exist if Democrats regain control. But there’s a more troublesome possibility in the transition dysfunction. Trump, said Mike Lux, "will be so bitter having just lost the election, he will do everything in his power to sabotage things.”

The veil of ignorance could allow Trump and his top officials to “burrow” political appointees into career service positions, keeping them in place after the transition. “They will contaminate the administration throughout unless you ferret them out,” said Wilkerson. “They will implement the previous administration’s policies in your administration.”

Further acts of sabotage range from petty office pranks—messing with computers or phones—to far more consequential options. Trump could authorize bombings or guerrilla actions abroad before the inauguration, similar to George H.W. Bush sending Marines to Somalia in December 1992. He could turn in a final census report early, cementing congressional apportionment data in a way that could undercount communities of color. He could just destroy evidence that might be used in future investigations against him. And he could issue executive orders and change agency regulations, which could all be reversed, but would take time and effort early in Biden’s term.


The goals would be twofold. First, ideologues would strive to finish Trump’s term with as many conservative triumphs as possible. Second, as Trump views practically everything as zero-sum, entangling the early Biden term with hardships would give credence to his likely postinaugural message of a “failing” new administration.

An uncooperative transition would of course come at the worst possible time. The economy remains severely depressed from the fallout of the pandemic and the continued inability to allow large numbers of people to congregate.T here remains no agreement on another coronavirus relief package, and Trump’s executive actions are already proving next to meaningless. Even if a deal is reached, most of the relief in the current bills extends only to December, leaving weeks with Trump as president and no fiscal support for the economy in place. The combination of economic pain, an uncertain election, and public-health challenges could roil markets, while mass evictions and foreclosures ensue.


What if the lame-duck Trump administration signs government procurement contracts that give preferential treatment to his own properties? What if Trump makes deals with other countries along the same lines for their U.S. visits, or alters foreign policy in exchange for emoluments? What if he directed emergency coronavirus relief funds to Trump hotels on the barest of pretenses? What if he set a price for doling out pardons or regulatory relief? The Trump Organization has already billed the government $900,000 for travel and lodging during his presidency; imagine Trump moving to Mar-a-Lago for the transition to transfer more public dollars over to his business. “The kinds of naked looting which he’s done more slowly he could do now more aggressively,” Eisen mused. “Trump has demonstrated over and over again, it’s not America first, it’s Trump first.”


“This could be the 1918 flu meeting the Great Depression meeting a right-wing revolution,” Gonsalves said. “It’ll already be a bad situation this winter even if things go well politically. But if we’re not going to see any leadership, we’re walking into a wall of fire.”


https://prospect.org/politics/winter-of-our-discontent-trump-2020-election/

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Response to DTomlinson (Original post)

Mon Sep 14, 2020, 02:53 PM

1. I intend to leave the polling place on Nov 3 and stay put, as much as possible

I'm already stocked up on non-perishables. When I finish voting I'll stop and pick up perishables - organic milk and eggs, cheese, some fruit and veg. Then I'm not leaving the house unless it's absolutely critical.

My big fear is how his cult will react to his defeat. I live in a VERY Blue part of my county, which might just make it a bigger target.

Hopefully I'm going to be over prepared, and overly concerned.

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Response to DTomlinson (Original post)

Mon Sep 14, 2020, 02:56 PM

2. I think that he will be too busy looting every pot of money and every coin not glued to the floor.

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Response to NCjack (Reply #2)

Mon Sep 14, 2020, 03:09 PM

5. ...and burning every clue to his crimes...

November 4th, House needs to subpoena EVERY scrap of paper in the executive branch, every electronic gadget in the government, and every possible witness to tRump's criminal activity. Send in the Marshals to enforce it.

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Response to lastlib (Reply #5)

Mon Sep 14, 2020, 04:14 PM

9. Absolutely. The House has got to bare their teeth and make it happen.

No messing around, no stalling, no politely asking. JUST DO IT.

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Response to DTomlinson (Original post)

Mon Sep 14, 2020, 02:57 PM

3. This excellent article reflects my own contemplation of those days yet to come.

I am pleased that Biden has prepared for a contested outcome with his Legal War Room. I hope this will work as intended!

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Response to DTomlinson (Original post)

Mon Sep 14, 2020, 03:00 PM

4. Okay okay.. can we just stop trying to put every dark scenario in words. This isn't helpful

We know who this guy is, Biden has prepared.

What more is there to do??!!

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Response to Thekaspervote (Reply #4)

Mon Sep 14, 2020, 03:10 PM

6. See post #5 above. n/t

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Response to DTomlinson (Original post)

Mon Sep 14, 2020, 03:32 PM

7. If it's as bad as you say, it'll be far worse if the con man "wins" somehow.

Even the nightmare scenario this article describes will be a GOOD thing in the long run, just "growing pains" so to speak. Compare it to the alternative scenario of a "win" and another four years for the orange con man, which truly is too horrible to contemplate.

-- Ron

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Response to DTomlinson (Original post)

Mon Sep 14, 2020, 04:12 PM

8. Now is the winter of our discontent?...made glorious summer by this sun of York?

We tend to forget the rest of Richard's malevolent soliloquy espousing himself as a villain matched in self-knowledge of a lack of sexual prowess. Yet the play does go on to describe to his villainous manipulations to attain that kingly crown and enjoin a little help from his loyal friends.

But be careful about what projects from the windmills of our own (fearful) minds! Giving them words or voice can give the truly malevolent loyalist(s) the exact actions a "got your back" silent student of The Prince could surely set in motion when the king himself becomes too unhinged.

It's true that there's no sunshine til he's gone, but now there's this editorial! Can we hope our candidate and his new staff and party leaders can be fore-armed after such a forewarning?
















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Response to DTomlinson (Original post)

Mon Sep 14, 2020, 04:40 PM

10. This is exactly what I'm most worried about n/t

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