This November’s important presidential and congressional election will be conducted during the worst public health crisis in 100 years. While millions of Americans are relying on absentee ballots to cast their vote as they safeguard their health, Donald Trump and the Republican Party are mounting legal challenges in many states in an effort to make it more difficult to vote by mail. At the same time, Louis DeJoy, a Trump-GOP megadonor, was appointed postmaster general and has implemented new directives at the U.S. Postal Service that dramatically slowed down mail delivery, jeopardizing on-time ballot delivery.
As public opinion polls consistently find Trump losing to former Vice President Joe Biden in both national and battleground state surveys, the president appears ever more desperate. Trump has repeatedly and falsely charged that the vote by mail process is riddled with fraud and regularly suggested that he may dispute election results that he claims will be rigged against him, if he should lose.
Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Sean Eldridge, founder and president of the group Stand Up America. Stand Up America and Indivisible are leading a coalition of some 90 advocacy and grassroots organizations that have joined together to protect the election results should Trump contest the election outcome. Here, Eldridge explains how the coalition is mobilizing millions of Americans to fight for democracy if Trump refuses to concede after losing.
SEAN ELDRIDGE: Earlier this year, Stand Up America partnered with Indivisible to launch Protect the Results, which is a coalition now of more than 90 organizations across the country who are working together to plan and to be prepared to mobilize if Trump were to refuse to concede, if he were to try to declare victory prematurely, or if he were trying to in any way undermine the results of the election. And, you know, the reason we launched this project is because of what we’ve seen over the last three-and-a-half years. We know that Trump has abused his power to demand foreign election interference in our politics. We know that he has lied about voter fraud and particularly about vote by mail on a daily basis. And we know that he has declared that the election is rigged before it has even taken place.
So our view is we can’t bury our heads in the sand. We can’t pretend this isn’t happening. We have to be prepared if Trump were to escalate his attacks on our democracy even more. And I think if you look at what Trump is doing right now, lying about vote by mail, declaring that the election is rigged. He’s pretty clearly laying the groundwork to dispute these election results. Never in modern American history have we had to worry about a president not respecting the peaceful transition of power in our country, but we have to worry about that right now. So we’re sounding the alarm that the threat that Trump poses is very real and that our members and that all Americans need to be ready not only to make a plan to vote to participate and vote safely this year, but that the work might not end on Election Day — and that we might have to mobilize to protect our democracy if Trump were to not accept the results of the election. So we have this coalition of more than 90 organizations and we’re putting together a national network and a national plan to mobilize and to take to the streets if necessary to push back against any of Trump’s attempts to undermine the election results and to make sure we protect our democracy.
SCOTT HARRIS: We have more Trump threats that appear to be of a violent nature. Trump on more than one occasion has called out armed militias and military veterans, as well as police and even motorcycle gangs to keep him in power. Michael Caputo, a Trump loyalist and newly-appointed spokesperson at the Department of Health and Human Services recently said when Trump refuses to step down at the inauguration, the shooting will begin and he advised Trump’s supporters to “buy ammunition for your guns.” There’s more violent language coming out of Trump and his supporters. As we get closer to this election, what is your concern beyond the legalisms, the lawyers and what our elected officials may do in response to Trump, not stepping down? Apart from all that what about the threat of violence here?
SEAN ELDRIDGE: Yeah, well, it would be a little crazy not to be concerned. You know, with Protect the Results, with our work at Stand Up America, we are very focused on peaceful protest, peaceful mobilization. I believe in the power of the American people. And I believe in the power of peaceful protest and how it is, you know, changed our government for good over the last couple of centuries. So we are focused on peaceful protest, because I think that is what is going to get the attention, the positive attention of decision-makers, of election officials of those who might be being pressured by Trump to do the wrong thing. The violence that I’m concerned about is the violence that we’ve already seen from this White House. You know, look, we’ve seen this White House deploy the military to the streets. We’ve seen them gas peaceful protesters for a photo op.
So we know already what they are capable of doing and how far they are willing to go. That said, I think that the American people rising up if necessary, taking to the streets in unprecedented numbers, making it very clear to state legislatures, to governors, to Mitch McConnell, to everybody in this country who might feel pressured by Donald Trump, I think mass mobilization can work and it matters. We’ve seen that a number of times in the last three-and-a-half years. So the threats of violence are completely reckless. They are threatening to undermine our political system even further. But it’s why organizations like ours are focusing on peaceful protest, peaceful mobilization. And I think, and I hope that those who are calling for violence are the extreme outliers.