No one is trying to sound presumptuous about a supposedly guaranteed win in November — everyone who is of sound mind and politically savvy knows that the 2020 general election, between President Donald Trump and the eventual Democratic nominee winner, will be a tight and contentious battle.
But if Trump does lose, what happens then? The president who describes factual news he doesn’t like as being “fake” might not accept the election results if they’re not to his liking, too — a worry that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi discussed with the New York Times in spring of last year.
“We have to inoculate against that, we have to be prepared for that,” Pelosi said at the time.
Democratic candidates vying for Trump’s job are worried about Trump’s behavior after a brutal loss as well. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s campaign page even dedicates a small section to the possibility that Trump might not go away quietly:
“Unlike previous transitions, we will not be able to assume good faith cooperation on the part of the outgoing administration, and we do not have an outgoing administration that shares even the most basic values.”
Political groups, like the “good government” organization The Partnership for Public Service, a Democratic-leaning think tank, is already preparing for how to address the possibility, Politico reported on Wednesday.
Democrats are bracing for the possibility that if Trump loses the 2020 election, he and his aides will bungle a smooth handover of powerhttps://t.co/zt6Czl9Ffd
— POLITICO (@politico) January 29, 2020
What exactly could go wrong? Any number of things, from small and petty reactions of Trump staffers refusing to file paperwork or outright destroying/losing copies sent in from the incoming administration, to the very idea that Trump himself, and those who work in the White House presently, simply won’t accept the outcome, refusing to transition themselves out of office altogether.
Even if that worst-case-scenario doesn’t happen, Democrats aren’t optimistic about a “peaceful” transition.
“This could be the most hostile, least professional transition in American history,” a former senior White House official from the Obama-era said. “And the new administration will have to spend the early period – when it should be hitting the ground running – unearthing buried bodies.”