In the months leading up to the Nov. 3 election, many of us were warning that, even if the face of a clear Biden victory, Trump and the Republicans might attempt a de facto coup. We warned that Trump might declare victory on election night before all the votes are counted, that he and his supporters would make false charges of vote fraud, and that he would refuse to concede even after it was clear that Biden was the winner. We also expressed concerns that his campaign would wage a legal battle to challenge the legitimate results, try to convince Republican election officials not to certify the results, encourage state legislatures to appoint Republican electors regardless of the vote count in the state, and convince the Republican-dominated federal judiciary to uphold these illegal measures.
Indeed, this is exactly what happened: in the aftermath of the election, Trump began calling Republican officials in five swing states where Biden won by relatively small margins to pressure them to overturn the election results in counties that went heavily Democratic. He filed lawsuits based on false allegations of massive vote fraud, tried to strong-arm state legislative leaders to select Republican electors in states that Biden actually won, and made other efforts to overturn the election results. If he had succeeded, despite losing the national popular vote by 7 million votes, it would have denied Biden his victory when the Electoral College met on Dec. 14 and put Trump on course to govern for another four years.
Those efforts failed, however, as did those by some Congressional allies to throw out the Electoral College votes from some key states when Congress met Jan. 6 to formally accept the results. The right-wing mob incited by Trump that stormed the U.S. Capitol that day in an attempt to prevent the certification shook the nation, but did not alter the results.
Much attention has focused on how the institutions of government held in the face of such unprecedented threats and how a number of prominent Republicans under enormous pressure from Trump and his supporters chose to adhere to their moral and legal responsibilities.
Even if things had gone differently, however, it is unlikely Trump would have been able to successfully steal the election. The reason was that millions of Americans would have engaged in massive nonviolent resistance to defend democracy. And this was likely the determining factor.
In the Philippines in 1985, Serbia in 2000, Ukraine in 2004, and Gambia in 2016, when incumbent regimes attempted to steal their elections, large-scale nonviolent action succeeded in forcing the election results to be honored. More conventional coup attempts in Germany (1920), France (1961), Bolivia (1978), Argentina (1987), the Soviet Union (1991), and Burkina Faso (2015) were similarly reversed as a result of popular civil resistance through rapid popular mobilization, massive noncooperation, building broad alliances of democratic forces, and maintaining nonviolent discipline.
As a result, starting this past summer, a number of groups began organizing and training for the possibility of massive nonviolent resistance to a stolen election in the United States.
Read the full article about the work of nonviolent activists by Stephen Zunes at YES! Magazine.
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