Choose Democracy Affirmation – Benicia Mayor Elizabeth Patterson
October 28, 2020
These are perilous times for public health, economic security and our democracy. For all of these reasons I am issuing this statement below. I, like you, think that a coup can’t possibly be a real threat and then I remind myself of history (I actually have a degree in history with a concentration in American, Eastern European and Russia). Below my statement is a piece about why we should be concerned and what to do.
In these perilous times for public health, economic security and our democracy it is essential that the fundamental basis of our democracy be supported and defended. All Americans—Democrats, Republicans, and Independents—must be prepared to protect and defend the valid results of the Presidential election whether their preferred candidate wins or loses. To that end I join with other concerned citizens to keep vigilant and defend our democracy by
· Counting every vote even if it takes days or weeks to get an accurate count from critical states, especially given the expansion of mail-in and absentee voting during the COVID-19 pandemic.
· Affirming the losing candidate concedes, and that Congress, the Electoral College, and state officials honor the accurate, final vote count.
WHY SOME OF US FEAR A COUP
What is a coup?
A coup is the illegal seizure of power.
It’s a coup if the government:
Stops counting votes;
Declares someone the winner who didn’t get the most votes; or
Allows someone to stay in power who didn’t win the election.
Why fear a coup after the November elections?
President Trump has refused to state his commitment to an orderly transfer of power if he loses the election.He has repeatedly declared that mail-in ballots are rife with fraud.His appointed Postmaster General has systematically undermined the US Postal Service. He has said the election is rigged. He has called for his supporters to watch the polls, and for white supremacist militias to “stand by.”
Trump faces some challenges if he decides to stage a coup: The United States has a complex and decentralized electoral system, which makes the falsifying of an election more difficult because each state has a separate voting system with different rules and procedures. But he has two advantages that may make it possible for him to seize power in the event that he does not win the election:
1. The media broadcasts his false public statements about the election.
2. He has a loyal group of followers that he has already primed to use violence if he is unable to get the police or military to repress democracy.
What makes a coup successful?
Coup leaders rely on two critical factors, both of which they must obtain from their citizens: legitimacy and cooperation.
1. Legitimacy means that the public believes that the coup leader has the right to the position they’ve claimed.
2. Cooperation means that the people who actually make the country function – from poll workers to police, elected officials to journalists – go along with the orders of the coup leader.
Additionally, the success of a coup often turns on momentum: the popular belief that a coup attempt will succeed. Everyone from legislators to the media to the general public are less likely to resist when they feel that the tide is turning toward a successful coup.
How to prevent a coup
Demand that every vote be counted, even if it takes days or weeks to get an accurate count from critical states, especially given the expansion of mail-in and absentee voting during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Talk with neighbors, friends, work acquaintances, etc. about the dangers posed to our democracy if votes are not counted or the losing candidate does not concede.
If a coup is attempted
Take part in mass non-violent action to support the democratic process of election by voters.