Now that Joe Biden has been officially coronated the Democratic presidential nominee for the 2020 election, it's time to look at the circumstances he faces and what he needs to do to win. Granted America is dealing with some of the most serious challenges of the last century all at once (the COVID-19 pandemic, the economy/unemployment and social unrest), and granted we have in the White House the most dangerous traitor the country has ever seen. But there are specifics to these circumstances that can easily neutralize any or all perceived advantages Biden may have over Donald Trump. And considering Trump makes no bones about cheating, Biden must cheat as well. He must cheat, quite simply, in order to compete.
Here's the reality.
1. Trump cheated in 2016. He colluded with Putin while Russia, distracting us with a Facebook-ad influence campaign, successfully breached 39 state election systems. The "official" report is that no votes were changed, but of course some were. You don't go 39 for 50 on getting in, and then go 0 for 39 on actually changing any votes. Considering Trump's winning Electoral College votes translated to a mere 77,000 votes cast at the polls, juxtaposed with the breaching it's a strong possibility he was never duly elected in the first place. These circumstances can happen again, and could even without COVID conditions.
2. Trump will cheat again in 2020. We know this because he already tried, got caught and was set free to continue. Recall the July 25, 2019 phone call to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky that led to Trump's impeachment and acquittal by the Republican/Russia-aligned Senate. This, of course, has given Trump carte blanche to not only cheat further (he almost certainly didn't stop even as he was being impeached and acquitted), but he might also cheat harder than he originally planned just to get even with those who dared to catch him.
3. The peripherals are strongly against Biden and growing. Polling and public sentiment would suggest he'll do well, but there are too many parts moving at the command of those who want to see him lose.
The most prominent, recent peripheral is, of course, the U.S. postal service. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has already taken us by surprise by removing, dismantling and even destroying sorting machines; locking up mailboxes; denying overtime pay to employees; and doing all of this in a targeted effort to harm blue districts in swing states crucial to Trump's reelection. While he's claimed he will halt future efforts now in the planning, he has also said he will not reverse some of the most devastating actions he's already taken (especially the sorting machines). When the 2016 difference was 77,000 votes in just the right swing states, removing just the right number of sorting machines in just the right districts in just the right swing states could alone cost Biden the presidency. Even if nothing else nefarious were to happen. It's almost like the same "surgical precision" software might be used by everyone. DeJoy at the USPS, Republicans who gerrymander. Maybe by the Russians who target our Electoral College map after hacking into 39 states.
Speaking of voting, let's not forget other recent assaults to the franchise. In 2013 the Supreme Court neutered the Voting Rights Act of 1965, implemented specifically to fight racial discrimination in voting. Specifically, in Shelby County v. Holder, the John Roberts court removed Section 5, "which requires certain states and local governments to obtain federal preclearance before implementing any changes to their voting laws or practices." Of course, this was created to prevent states with a history of racial discrimination from making significant changes to voting rights without being answerable to the federal government. The argument from the judicial activists on the bench was that such restrictions were no longer needed in the current age - to put it another way, "we ain't racist anymore" - and so removed this important check. Naturally, as a result, states you might expect to take advantage did just that. In Georgia, for example, we have governor Brian Kemp. He ran for the office in 2018 while still serving as secretary of state, a position that put him in charge of elections and election data - a huge conflict of interest. Before and during the campaign, he used his power to put voter applications on hold and purge voters from the rolls for the "crime" of not having voted recently, and as such his office took that as evidence those voters had either moved or died. Not only had the overwhelming majority done neither, but many later came forward to say they both voted recently and attempted to update their information to no avail. To boot, those voters were overwhelmingly people of color and in Democratic districts. There were other actions such as an alleged sequestration of voting machines in districts favoring his opponent, Stacey Abrams. He also accused Democrats of fraudulent voting activity for which he had no evidence, and attempted to expedite the results of the election without proper confirmation (with the gall to claim it was necessary to facilitate his transition to the position he assumed was already his). All of this and more allowed Kemp to prevail from a position of extremely unfair power in what many still consider a stolen election.
And Kemp isn't alone. It's happening throughout the country where Republicans are in charge. Take Wisconsin. In addition to the successful 2011 effort by fascist governor Scott Walker to steal collective bargaining rights from public sector employees, the state has further entrenched Republicans into legislative and judicial power. When Walker lost reelection to the current governor, Democrat Tony Evers, his comrades in the legislature rushed during the lame-duck session to severely restrict the powers of the office, granting them instead to themselves in the branch they would still control in the next Congress. Though Evers sued and some powers were restored, some significant restrictions were upheld by the conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court. Then the court ruled against Evers and Wisconsinites again during the pandemic, deciding he did not have the power to reschedule the date of an important election, in which voters would elect a judge to join the same court in question, to accommodate safer protocols (and only after the legislature refused to work with him to address the extraordinary circumstances). And if that weren't enough, after securing a federal court victory that ruled the pandemic was an acceptable excuse for extending absentee ballot returns sent by mail an extra week, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the order at almost literally the eleventh hour (the afternoon before Election Day). This famously forced an extreme situation that saw many people waiting in long lines, with questionable social distancing protocols, to vote at an exceptionally limited number of polling locations in the state (Milwaukee went from 180 locations... to 5). People stood in long lines as they figuratively crawled over broken glass for what should have been their simple, easy right. And though, miraculously, the more liberal justice won the election, at least 70 people came down with coronavirus linked to standing in Wisconsin voting lines that day.
Efforts will not only continue, they'll magnify when what happened in these two states grows exponentially during a national election for control of the presidency and the Senate. Investigative reporter Greg Palast has done extensive research for his new book, "How Trump Stole 2020," and is already where I am on this debate (minus Biden needing to cheat; he's not there yet!). Disclosure time: I have not read Palast's book nor am I endorsing it. But I do recommend checking out his Twitter account where he posts daily information on Republican voter fraud. Through his research he has learned nearly 2 million ballots were thrown out in 2016 after they were cast for such uncorrectable offenses as non-matching voter signatures. Clearly, polls and goodwill for Biden have nothing on all these realities happening at the same time - just like our other set of national crises are all happening at the same time. And the Republicans, like their comrades in Russia, have had four years to improve their tactics and efficiency.
Indeed efforts are still underway. NPR just reported more than 550,000 primary absentee ballots were rejected earlier this year for mistakes such as non-matching signatures or simply for arriving too late to be counted - an issue set to be compounded this November by the USPS. Their reporting concludes this had an outsized effect on minority populations (people of color, younger voters) and that significant numbers of ballots were thrown out in - you guessed it! - key swing states. Good ole Wisconsin had more than 23,000 votes thrown out while Pennsylvania had more than 37,000 rejected. These were among the highest in the nation. Did I mention Trump won 2016 by only 77,000 combined votes? Sorry if I skipped that part. That combination came from only four swing states, and two of them were Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Oh, and for good measure, Trump recently announced he wants armed guards stationed at polling places this November. I'm sure they'll be placed strategically to ensure white, red district voters don't accidentally vote twice for him or anything. And of course let's not forget regular, standard gerrymandering that has decimated our system already. That's still in effect. Also, the census. The USPS drama will likely hinder a proper count on that too, along with Trump having already shrunken the window for the bureau to collect its information. The census results will help draw districts for the next decade, just as the Republican-favorable 2010 census was the starting point for the majority of what this article describes.
As was said at last week's Democratic National Convention, the stakes could not be higher. The next president is virtually guaranteed to shape SCOTUS in one direction or the other, perhaps for most of the rest of our lives. The next president will decide if stormtroopers in cities who don't agree with his politics are the norm or not. And these tactical efforts far from Washington are all working in service, and in concert, with trying to get Trump reelected as a counterpoint to the reality America clearly doesn't want him, his party or their policies. Obviously we cannot rely on Republicans to help in any way. They're cheating all over the goddamn country, at all levels and in all branches of government, with impunity. So let's not argue for their reform, shall we? Congressional Democrats? After November they'll be complicit. Even if they take back the Senate, they've already proven they're unwilling to stand up to Trump. Considering they were also unwilling to stand up to Republicans even before Trump, it's very likely, if not certain, they will agree to his governance even if his cheating unequivocally leads to his reelection. Even if he openly admits it after being inaugurated again, in an "I-can-shoot-anyone-on-5th-Avenue" moment. They will not stop his Supreme Court nominations even if they have the Senate. They might force him to choose relatively more moderate justices, but they'll ultimately agree to justices far too conservative for the bench. They're feckless when it comes to rocking the boat for fear of upsetting the system that lets them serve the donor class just like the Republicans do. But Democrats, such as Joe Biden, need us. They need us to vote, and vote successfully, to maintain the system and not start a revolution instead. The way to that, most directly, is with a Joe Biden victory. And to do that, he needs to cheat. If he doesn't cheat, Trump will win. If Trump wins, he will remain president indefinitely - beyond just two terms. And America will have traveled past the point of no return with revolution or civil war much more probable and maybe even inevitable. My recommendation is collusion with China. Biden can promise to restore America's relationship with the Chinese, and end Trump's trade war and economic sanctions, in exchange for them hacking into our election systems and changing votes on Biden's behalf. Hell, they invented hacking. It shouldn't be too hard.