Asheville – With the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) the Claremont Institute recently published the results of a joint war room exercise. The conservative think tanks argued much work had been poured into polling to predict the results of this November’s elections; but little serious effort had been made to equip leadership for the abundant and commonplace rumors of violent aftermath expected to be stirred by the likes of political sore losers, media companies wanting ratings, and foreign actors seeking to advance their military adventurism while America was embroiled in domestic unrest.
The TPPF judged worthy of mention one other attempt at war-rooming the election aftermath. Conducted by the Transition Integrity Project (TIP), the TPPF described that effort as a Democrat ploy masquerading as bipartisan through the appointment of a few “never Trumpers.” The purpose of their wargames, according to TPPF, was to “generate breathless propaganda” about a president who was willing to pull any stop and break any law to stay in office.
Interestingly, one of the scenarios the TIP explored was a “clear Trump win,” in which Biden – not Trump – refused to concede, convinced two Democrat governors to send separate slates to the Electoral College, encouraged three states to threaten secession, and convinced the House to refuse to certify the election. In another scenario, Trump lost, alleged fraud took advantage of the office for himself and his family to the max for the remainder of the term, and then left. In another losing scenario, Trump sewed chaos and had to be removed by the Secret Service. The fourth scenario was an ongoing stalemate TIP did not resolve.
For their exercise, the TPPF pulled together 35 experts specializing in the fields of Constitutional law, election law, foreign affairs, law enforcement, and mass communications. The simulations were designed and led by retired Army Lieutenant Colonel-turned-politician Chuck DeVore, who ran wargames at the Pentagon during the Reagan era. The exercise was conducted well before the election, so a lot of the speculation is now water under the bridge. For example, the projections missed on expecting Trump to lead when in-person voting concluded.
They were correct in that no official winner was declared election night, mail-in ballots remained outstanding in at least five battleground states, and lawsuits were filed with Republicans seeking to uphold and Democrats praying relief from state election law. In reality, Trump challenged results in Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania; he left Iowa alone, as he won that state. It was known that Nevada’s laws for counting mail-in ballots would introduce days of delays, but prospects for a challenge in Arizona did not make the cut for gaming.
On the potential for mail-in ballot fraud, the TPPF report cited research by the <em>Washington Post</em>, which does not address things like the higher stakes in and higher push for mail-in voting this time around. More satisfying might be conclusions summarized by Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE), who is being demonized for saying the cases are being thrown out of court, not because of dirty Democrat judges, but for failure to produce specific evidence of fraud at levels claimed. Just as none of Trump’s lawyers have told a judge under oath that they believe some of the theories they parade on mainstream media; Sasse says none of his colleagues have indicated to him privately that they believe the fraud exists.
Instead, Sasse says the accusations are a play for support in the court of public opinion, for ambitious politicians to “tap into the president’s populist base.” And that folds nicely into the TPPF’s prediction that “Major media and internet giants will actively seek to shape the post-election narrative, suppressing information of which they don’t approve.” Other serious threats anticipated as the fight for the presidency continues to include domestic unrest, particularly in urban areas where the police have been “defunded” or “reimagined.
A recurring theme was that China and/or Russia would fan the flames; but, more than that, they would take advantage of America’s distraction over the election to invade democratic neighboring states and/or perhaps capitalize on the chaos and conveniently act as if they have a choice in presidents.
The TPPF report affirms both institutes’ dedication to the Constitution and its resilience for handling situations as tumultuous as 2020. Currently, the January 6 joint session of Congress for certifying the electoral votes is approaching, with no expectation for it to be a cakewalk. While rumors persist that alternate slates of electors will be considered by Congress, Cato Chair Robert Levy says that is now legally impossible. The Electoral Count Act allows alternate slates to be considered only in states that do not certify one or the other, but all states’ slates, representing the vote of the Electoral College, have now been “properly certified.”
Yet, expectations still run high that Trump will prevail in Congress’ certification process. In a nation habituated to surprise, the TPPF’s scenario of a standoff in Congress is not out of the question. In this situation, Speaker Pelosi could refuse to seat Republicans newly-elected to the House to force a Democrat victory in the joint session. Should the joint session produce no clear winner, Pelosi would, via the Succession Act, become interim president. Then, should the House fail to name an interim vice president, that decision would be made by the Senate.
Independent Constitutional scholar Michael Badnarik researched the claim about Pelosi’s powers for the <em>Tribune</em> and said there’s nothing in the Constitution stopping this from happening. He however added the American people have been allowing the federal government to free-wheel unshackled by the Constitution so long, they’ve rendered what the Constitution says about anything pragmatically moot.