Donald Trump Effectively Threatens Violence if the Election Goes Against Him

Joe Biden Shrugs It Off

What Will YOU Do?



Ten days ago, in an article on this website, Bob Avakian wrote that “...the relentless drive by this regime and its supporters, even as the election approaches, to go full steam ahead with their fascist juggernaut, to corrupt and steal the election, to refuse to accept a defeat in the election, and to remain in power regardless of the outcome of the election—this is forcing, more and more to the forefront, the reality of what is represented by this regime, the great objective danger of simply waiting for the election, and the great need to take to the streets, now, to demand that this regime must be removed." (From TRUMP’S FASCISM—MORE BLATANT AND DANGEROUS EVERY DAY: HOW A DETERMINED FIGHT AND MASSIVE MOBILIZATION COULD DEFEAT THIS. PART 3 of VOTING WILL NOT BE ENOUGH—WE NEED TO TAKE TO THE STREETS, AND STAY IN THE STREETS DEMANDING TRUMP/PENCE OUT NOW!) Voting will be necessary—but it will NOT be enough.

What’s happened since then?

Take just the past several days. On Wednesday, September 23, Trump was asked if he would promise a peaceful transfer of power if he were to lose. Here’s what he said:

“We want to get rid of the [mail-in] ballots and you’ll have a very peaceful … There won’t be a transfer, frankly. There will be a continuation.” [Emphasis added.] Let’s break this down. Trump has been creating a major wave of lies and confusion around mail-in ballots—ballots that registered voters fill out ahead of time and then send in by Election Day. Trump claims that they are liable to fraud and should therefore not be counted. In fact, these ballots are not particularly liable to fraud—there are stringent requirements that people must obey to use them, study after study has shown that even attempts at fraud are very rare, and for all the money they have spent trying to find and cook up such cases, the Republicans have virtually nothing to show for it. Yet here is Trump saying that there won’t be a peaceful transfer of power.1

This comes on top of Trump repeating over and over that the only way he could ever possibly imaginably lose the election is if it were rigged. But here’s what’s new with his September 24 statement: if there’s not a peaceful transfer, then what is there? Trump is clearly implying that he will use the threat and force of violence to stay in power. He was given a chance to “walk this back” the next day … and he refused.

And on September 26, Trump raised the possibility of the election being decided by Congress, where “we have the advantage.”2

Adding to the controversy, as this was happening, a number of writers and researchers published major articles showing not only that Trump was doing everything he could to corrupt and pervert the election, not only were Republicans preparing to sabotage state election results and use loopholes in the laws to go against the actual popular vote in some of the “battleground states,” not only were they preparing thousands of followers to act as thugs and intimidators on Election Day specifically against Black and Latino and Native voters, not only was he encouraging violence and mayhem by his followers now to back up these threats, but—as these articles showed—there is a tremendous weakness in the laws and institutions of the country that made this very possible. There are loopholes wide enough to drive an SUV full of armed militia morons through.

The most important article is in the November preview issue of the Atlantic, entitled “The Election That Could Break America.” The author, Barton Gellman, writes: “Let us not hedge about one thing. Donald Trump may win or lose, but he will never concede. Not under any circumstance.” And, “There is no truth to be found in dancing around this point, either: Trump does not want Black people to vote.” To think otherwise “will lull us into spurious hope that Trump is tractable to forces that constrain normal incumbents.”

Gellman argues, “The worst case, however, is not that Trump rejects the election outcome. The worst case is that he uses his power to prevent a decisive outcome against him. If Trump sheds all restraint, and if his Republican allies play the parts he assigns them, he could obstruct the emergence of a legally unambiguous victory for Biden in the Electoral College and then in Congress. He could prevent the formation of consensus about whether there is any outcome at all. He could seize on that uncertainty to hold on to power.” 

Along with this, Gellman argues that “The president is not actually trying to prevent mail-in balloting altogether…. He is discrediting the practice and starving it of resources, signaling his supporters to vote in person, and preparing the ground for post–Election Night plans to contest the results.” Because Biden voters are expected to use mail-in voting much more heavily than Trump supporters, the fascists are playing on an expected “red mirage”—that on Election Night—at which point most mail-in votes will not have been counted—it could look like Trump is winning. 

This would open up multiple options for the fascists to bring to bear all the instruments of power they command. Most simply, Trump could claim the “fraudulent” mail-in votes shouldn’t be counted, declare “victory,” and use government and militia power to enforce that. He could use militia violence against protesters as a basis to declare a “national emergency.”

But Gellman points to more legalistic maneuvers that could either provide cover or substitute for open violence (including having the decision made in Congress, discussed earlier). Gellman points out that the Constitution mandates that if state results are not reported to Congress by December 8, they will not be counted at all. So if local counts are tied up in court disputes, state legislatures—most of which have Republican majorities—can decide to ignore the popular vote and choose pro-Trump Electors.3 Gellman writes that some Republican campaign officials have confirmed—some “on the record”—that the Trump campaign is already discussing this as a serious option, using “a justification based on claims of rampant fraud.”4

Joe Biden Says, “What, Me Worry?”

But the Democrats are doing worse than nothing. In an interview with Stephanie Ruhle, Biden was dismissive, calling it “typical Trump distraction,” adding that “I don’t think it’s going to go anywhere. I think the American people are on to this guy.” And, “We’ll have an election in this country as we always have had, and he’ll leave.” Ruhle pressed him: “But come November 4th, we know all of the votes won’t be counted and if they are not and people are fired up and they take to the streets, what will you do?” Biden’s response was “I’m not going to even entertain that because I’m not anticipating that happens. What will I do? We are assuming that even a Republican court would respond in an appropriate way based on what the law is. And that our Democratic and Republican friends in Congress would respond.” 

REALLY?! Our “Republican friends in Congress”? The same ones who are now ramrodding through an extremist fascist court pick in record time, going against the phony “precedent” they invented to prevent Obama’s candidate from even getting a hearing, and doing so in large part as they so readily admit to get a guaranteed pro-Trump vote onto the court in case there’s a deadlock and the Supreme Court is called in to rule? Your “Republican friends” who refused to say a word against Trump’s threat about peaceful transfer of power?5 Your Republican friends who, when Donald Trump says “Jump” can only say “How high?”  

This is spreading extremely dangerous illusions.

What is needed is neither the empty assurances of Biden, nor the despair and defeatism that some people who do recognize the vicious intent of the fascists are allowing themselves to fall into, but to make good on the call issued by Refuse Fascism (RF) for massive, nonviolent action in the streets day after day, from October 3 through the election. RF is organizing for this now, and everyone who cares about the future should be part of this.

This strategy of RF’s could WIN—and this is convincingly laid out in Bob Avakian’s recent article, TRUMP’S FASCISM—MORE BLATANT AND DANGEROUS EVERY DAY: HOW A DETERMINED FIGHT AND MASSIVE MOBILIZATION COULD DEFEAT THIS, along with what we need to do to make it real.  

It is worth closing this by echoing the two final paragraphs of Bob Avakian’s article:

With the full awareness of what is represented by this fascist regime, and what it means that Trump is not only seeking to suppress the votes of people who will vote against him but is also preparing to utilize forceful, violent repression to remain in office if he is not declared the winner in the election, it is of critical and urgent importance to build now truly massive and sustained mobilization around the unifying demand that this regime must be OUT NOW!—with an orientation of being prepared to continue this even past the election, if the situation requires it



The crazed fanaticism of the fascists insisting that Trump must remain in power, no matter what, must be met, and overwhelmed, by the conscious passionate intensity of masses of people who hate everything that this fascist regime represents, who recognize the very real existential threat that this regime represents for humanity and are fired with righteous determination that this regime must go!


1. The very next day, Thursday, September 24, Trump said, in response to a reporter’s question about whether he would accept the November results only if he wins, “We want to make sure that the election is honest and I’m not sure that it can be… we have to be very careful with the ballots. The ballots—you know, that’s a whole big scam.”  [back]

2.  Under the U.S. system, if no candidate can certify an absolute majority of electoral votes by December 8—which could happen due to expected court challenges to many states’ results—the decision could end up being made in the House of Representatives, where each state delegation would have one vote. Republicans control 26 state delegations, so Trump would likely win.  [back]

3.  Gellman points out that nothing in the U.S. Constitution specifies that the electors in the Electoral College be chosen by popular vote. Article II says that each state shall appoint electors “in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct.” Since the late 19th century, the tradition has been for these appointments to be based on the popular vote. But the Supreme Court ruled in the 2000 election case that state legislatures “can take back the power to appoint electors.”  [back]

4. Aside from the Barton Gellman piece in the Atlantic, see the other articles raising the alarm: “The Legal Fight Awaiting Us After the Election,” Jeffrey Toobin, New Yorker, 9/21/20; “I’ve Never Been More Worried About American Democracy Than I Am Right Now,” Richard L. Hasen,, 9/23/20.  [back]

5. The Senate did pass a resolution by “unanimous consent” (meaning there was no objection) on Thursday, September 24, saying they are committed to an "orderly and peaceful transition of power"—a non-binding resolution that is basically meaningless.  [back]



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