A Democracy, If We Can Keep It.

cartoon by Ann Telnaes, 29 May 2020

Worried about the 2020 US Elections? I haven’t slept well in months either. But I do have some words of encouragement.

Donald Trump’s presidency

will end in January 2021.

This is not wishful thinking. And his removal from office will require our active participation. But there are many reasons for hope. And that should inspire us to act.

I give you 10 reasons why Donald Trump will not win the Presidential race, and why patriotic Americans must – and will – keep fighting for our democracy.

1. Biden – and now Biden-Harris – has been consistently ahead in the polls since at least February. Compare that to 2016, when Clinton’s lead was consistently narrower and Trump was sometimes ahead.


Those 2016 lines have more ups and downs, and they intersect.

2016 US Presidential Election Polls from Project 538.


The 2020 lines are farther apart, steadier, and do not intersect.

2020 US Presidential Election Polls, 28 Aug 2020, from Project 538.

Significantly, Biden-Harris have steady leads in key swing states: Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Colorado, and Nevada. Trump-Pence narrowly lead in Ohio, Iowa, Texas, and Georgia. Biden-Harris narrowly lead in Arizona and North Carolina.

Of course, polls can change. However, in the hyper-partisan US of 2020, these polls are unlikely to shift in a meaningful way. There are few swing voters, and 70% of so-called “undecided voters” (a small group) view Trump unfavorably. Most voters have made up their minds.

In a free and fair election, Biden and Harris would win. This election will not be free or fair. But if people turn out in sufficient numbers, Biden and Harris can overcome the deficit imposed by Republican voter-suppression and sabotage.

2. To keep this election as fair as we can (and to create fair elections in the future), we must fight for voting rights.

There are many organizations fighting to restore voting rights. You can support them via donations or volunteering.

And ask your Senator to support the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act!

3. If you are not in an at-risk category, sign up to be a poll worker

I have already done this. I don’t know how it works in your county, but all I had to do was fill out and submit a form. It took me maybe 3 minutes.

  • Power the Polls will tell you how you can volunteer as a poll worker in your community.

4. Do not give in to despair. There are things you can do.

I understand why you might feel despair. Autocrats wear you down. It’s what they do. After four years of gaslighting, White-supremacist violence, children in cages, outright theft, law-breaking, treason, incompetence, hatred, and the unrelenting firehose of shit that is the Trump presidency, we are all exhausted.

Living in Trump’s America is like living under the rule of the Dementors from the Harry Potter series. Trump and the party that enables him are soul-sucking creatures that inspire and then feed off despair.

But, my friends, we must reach for that bar of chocolate, summon our collective patronuses and fight back. When we fight back, we win.

Take a look. Pick your favorite candidates or organizations and get to work.

5. We outnumber them. Support for Biden-Harris is stronger than that for Clinton-Kaine.

cartoon by Ann Telnaes, 20 Aug. 2020

And remember that we have outnumbered them for 4 years already. Clinton-Kaine won the popular vote. Indeed, since we do not know the full extent that Russian interference affected the vote count in states that Trump allegedly “won,” Clinton-Kaine may have won the Electoral College, too.  We simply do not know.

But now, in 2020, we also have the Lincoln Project, Republican Voters Against Trump, and many other conservatives who are supporting Biden-Harris.

We even have the NBA! Yesterday, the National Basketball Association announced that it will convert arenas into polling places.

6. Fight for Democratic candidates as if this were the last remotely free election in your lifetime.

If Trump wins, this will be the last remotely free election in your lifetime. Like the more effective fascist parties that preceded it, the Republican Party has been doing its best to pack the courts with ideologues. The deeper a country slides into autocracy, the harder it is to push it back towards democracy.

So, support Biden-Harris and Democrats at all levels of government. And to be clear, I mean, support Democrats unless they’re truly shitty, like the 19-year-old revenge-porn guy from Kansas. And he is the exception, not the rule. (Again, see the Gaslit Nation 2020 Survival Guide for tips on the races in which to invest your energy.)

To any on the left who don’t think Biden-Harris are sufficiently left, you will go much farther towards achieving your aims with them than you will with Trump. They will listen, they can be moved. He cannot.

To any on the right who find Biden-Harris too left for your tastes, know that they believe in liberal democracy. Trump does not. They will listen. Trump will not. They are competent. Trump is not. The Biden-Harris ticket is, truly, our last chance to save the republic.

This race is not about ideological purity. When the house is on fire, you reach for the nearest bucket of water. You don’t ask, “has the water been properly distilled?” Biden-Harris is the nearest bucket of water. Reach for it by pulling the lever for them.

If you can, vote early. If you can vote in person, vote in person. If you’ve already requested an absentee/advance ballot, many states have set up drop-off points where these can be hand-delivered. If you’re going to rely upon the US Postal Service, send in your ballot ASAP.

7. If Biden and Harris manage to overcome Trump’s efforts to steal the election and the GOP’s voter suppression campaign, Trump’s reign of chaos and pain will end.

cartoon by Ann Telnaes, 20 July 2020.

If Trump refuses to concede defeat, US military leadership will intervene on the side of democracy. I base this claim on their criticism of Trump’s expressed wish to use the Armed Forces to attack US citizens during the summer’s Black Lives Matter protests. Rebuffed by his own military, Trump had to use his private military – ICE – to attack peaceful protesters instead. (And, if ICE tries to take on the US military, I would bet on the US military. Wouldn’t you?)

8. Should legal challenges push the election into the US Supreme Court, we are in shakier territory. But I still think democracy will prevail.

(Note: both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party are preparing for possible legal challenges, post-election.)

Yes, there are now two stolen seats on the Supreme Court: “Blackout Brett” Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch. Kavanaugh will almost certainly back his fellow sexual-assault hobbyist (Donald “grab ’em by the pussy” Trump). I don’t know about Gorsuch, but Roberts – who is indeed responsible for the gutting of the Voting Rights Act, and thus bears much blame for where we are today – is a constitutionalist. I think he will side with democracy. However, should the court not side with democracy, the people of the US will side with democracy.

9. Here is why I say that the people of the US will side with democracy. Donald Trump did not win the presidency in 2016. He stole it. But at the time, we did not know that he had stolen it. Now, we do.

cartoon by Ann Telnaes, 13 Aug. 2020.

Though we had our suspicions, it was not until the month after the election that the CIA and the FBI confirmed that Russians had hacked the DNC, and the FBI. In January 2017, the CIA, FBI, NSA, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence issued a joint statement that Putin had interfered in the election on behalf of Trump.  In 2019, the Mueller Report affirmed that Russian interference occurred “in sweeping and systematic fashion” and “violated U.S. criminal law.” This month (August 2020), the Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee completed their 996-page report concluding that, as the New York Times summarized, “The Russian government disrupted an American election to help Mr. Trump become president, Russian intelligence services viewed members of the Trump campaign as easily manipulated, and some of Mr. Trump’s advisers were eager for the help from an American adversary.”

Today, in 2020, we know Trump’s presidency is illegitimate. Afraid that the Republican Party’s voter-suppression efforts will not give him enough of an advantage, Trump is trying to steal another election by appointing saboteur Louis DeJoy to destroy the US Postal Service – in a pandemic, when many will be voting by mail. But his party’s assault on voting rights and his attacks on the USPS delegitimizes any “win” for him: since we know he’s cheating, any claim of “victory” arrives already tainted, suspect, void.

Let me repeat that: By sabotaging the post office and lying about voter fraud, Trump has already delegitimized any “win” he may attempt to claim. When you announce in advance your intentions to cheat, you remove the possibility of claiming victory.

10. Knowing that the “President” who whines about “fake news” is in fact a Fake President is important. Now that we know, we will not accept a second stolen election. Should Trump and his accomplices (Russia, the Republicans) successfully manipulate the vote or should he refuse to step down, we will rise up against the Trump Crime Family and their treasonous enablers. We will fight for democracy.  We will take to the streets and stay there until he either steps down or is removed from office.

The mass uprising will make the Black Lives Matter protests seem small by comparison. And when the people rise up against autocrats, we win.

No taxation without representation!

No government without consent of the governed!

This will not be easy. Trump will activate his personal militia (ICE), and he will call on armed White-supremacist terrorist Trump-fanboys to assist. Trump has no regard for human life, no regard for democracy, no regard for anyone but himself. He will incite violence, he will commit crimes against humanity, he will order his thugs to shoot to kill.

So, in joining the protests, know that you are putting your life on the line. Know that you are doing what John Lewis and countless other patriots have done in our nation’s history. Not all who protest will survive. Those who do survive may live with injuries for the remainder of their lives – lives which are now shorter as a result of those injuries.

But the alternative is the death of US democracy. And, remember: there are more of us than there are of them.

I have already reserved a hotel room in Washington DC for after the election. If it becomes necessary, I will go there and join the uprising. But you can – and should – protest in your own city and town, too.

Trump will lose. Democracy will win. There are no other options.

To ensure his loss, we need get to work.

And then we need to keep working. A Biden-Harris victory in November means that we will all have to work towards rebuilding democracy.

  • Restore voting rights. At a minimum, we need the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act.  Even better would be a constitutional amendment guaranteeing voting rights.
  • Vote in every election – local, state, national. All elections matter. Be a patriot: VOTE.
  • Prosecute the many crimes of the Trump era. Trump’s administration already has a record number of indictments. Keep holding them accountable for their crimes. Prosecute the Trump Crime Family itself.
  • Work to contain the pandemic – which can be done under the competent leadership of Biden and Harris, but will never be done under the flailing, gaslighting bull-shittery of Trump and Pence.
  • Rebuild the US economy.
  • Rejoin the global effort to slow climate change.
  • Fight for criminal justice reform, including demilitarizing the police and holding cops accountable for their crimes. Black lives matter!
  • Close the concentration camps! Release children from the cages!
  • Abolish ICE, and prosecute its agents for their crimes.

This is far from a complete list, but it is a reminder that the fight for democracy does not end with a victory for Biden-Harris and a Democratic Congress.

The fight for democracy begins with a Biden-Harris victory and a Democratic Congress.

Finally, for those who may wonder, I should add that the possibly apocryphal Benjamin Franklin quotation to which my title alludes is “A republic, if you can keep it.” Allegedly, shortly after the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Franklin was asked, “Doctor, what have we got? A republic or a monarchy?”

Franklin’s supposed response was: “A republic, if you can keep it.”

Let’s keep it.

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