This article originally appeared on the blog of Heretic, the magazine of We Are Libertarians.
An almost-war with Iran.
A failed (but needed) effort to remove Trump from office.
If you are thinking that surely we have seen the the worst that 2020 has to offer, I hate to be the bearer of bad news but I ardently believe you are wrong. The November election is taking shape to be a storm that could easily make these other disasters and near-disasters pale in comparison.
Yesterday’s primary elections (aside from bringing in several significant victories for the Democratic Socialists of America) provided yet another terrible preview of the disaster that the November election has the potential to be. We saw massive polling lines, some of them several hours long. We saw an extremely reduced number of polling places: for example, Jefferson County, KY had but a single polling place for over 610,000 voters. We are still seeing an incredibly slow publication of results due to the large influx of mail-in ballots.
While the “precaution” of cutting back on the number of polling places was done under the guise of protecting voters from COVID-19, it was done in a way that often disenfranchised minority voters and urban voters (this is especially true in Kentucky and New York City). I wrote previously about how this pandemic has caused a clash between the democratic ideals of mass enfranchisement and public safety. I have also written previously about how this clash has (and will) cause chaos and distrust.
The primaries that took place across the nation yesterday, as well as the Georgia primary that took place earlier this month) have done nothing but make me double-down on the sentiments I expressed in those earlier pieces: our general election this year is in significant peril and I am not at all convinced that our rotting democracy is strong enough to withstand the coming storm.
Make no mistake: it is incredibly likely that Trump, his team, and his sycophantic GOP allies in state and local governments across the country will use the pandemic as cover to drive-down voter turnout through nefarious and various methods of disenfranchisement that not even Richard Nixon could dream of. Polls in urban areas will be limited in number and heavily policed. Polling places will be moved, combined, and shut down at the last minute (intentionally) in order to spread confusion among the electorate. They will make every effort to limit mail-in voting and other alternative voting methods.
Deliberate and racially-targeted voter disenfranchisement is Trump’s best hope at winning this election. He knows it, and so should you.
Even if the entire November election is on the up-and-up, it is already predestined to be illegitimate. If Trump wins, he will never escape the accusations of abusing his power and influence to disenfranchise voters. If Biden wins, he will never escape the allegations of mail-in voter fraud. For these reasons (and a plethora of others), America is in a lose-lose situation.
America has withstood hotly contested elections before. But after decades of waning public confidence and four years of Trump chopping away at institutional integrity (especially the integrity of the Justice Department), I doubt our democracy can survive an election where the winner will be considered illegitimate by default by 40+% of the population. No, American democracy has it has existed before will be nothing but nostalgia after November, 2020. The rumors and outright evidence of fraud and disenfranchisement, the almost certain recounts, the inevitably slow-to-report results, the possible delayed elections will all make sure of that.