A Coup in the Making?

Susan Saxe
4 min readNov 11, 2020


We Are Still Not out of the Woods

As of today, November 11, 2020, the vote count proceeds calmly and in an orderly fashion. On other fronts, things are not going well and may escalate quickly. I hope I’m wrong.

Just to check my gut instincts against expert predictions and emerging facts, I re-read and analyzed the findings of the Transition Integrity Project in its pre-election report, https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/7013152/Preventing-a-Disrupted-Presidential-Election-and.pdf

I started by comparing the TIP projections with what actually happened and what seems to be unfolding.What I found was that Trump and the Republicans have either already done or are plausibly planning pretty much every strategy predicted or played out in scenarios 1,2 and 4 of the games (Ambiguous Election Results, Clear Biden Victory and Narrow Biden Victory, respectively). The Democrats have done or could plausibly do only 25 of 49, drastically weakening an already shaky position. I left out scenario 3, (Clear Trump Win) because it consisted entirely of things the Republicans did in the games and would likey do in reality coupled with things the Dems did in the games (where the goal was to win, not to placate their donors) but would probably NOT do in the real world (or at least the available evidence suggests they wouldn’t). Of course counting in that set of data points would make the picture much, much worse.

Here’s how it broke down:

-The Republicans/Trump campaign did or are plausibly planning to do 56 out of 58 predicted or played strategies (the remaining two were/are moot in the real world).

-The Democrats did or are likely to do only 25 of 49 predicted, played or recommended strategies to avert electoral loss or civil violence. Even of those things they did or are likely to do, some were merely (IMO futile) concessions toward the other side for the sake of peace and the appearance of bi-partisanship.

-On the up-side, We the People did 10 out of the 10 things that we could do, or that the Dems could have done but didn’t, including pressuring local and state officials to secure the election, speaking out individually and through organizations, and training and organizing for election protection, including labor organizing, all without any help from the DNC or Biden campaign. Other elements like the mainstream media also played a part with managing expectations of a quick count and doing good fact checking.

When I compare the games with what is going on in the news I am alarmed at how well certain Trump moves line up with the worst case scenarios. And it’s happening fast:

1. Firing top military officials who are already on record refusing to intervene in domestic politics and replacing them with loyalists who have fewer if any scruples about being used to occupy American cities.

2. Decapitating federal law enforcement agencies, who, although strongly right-leaning, are still professional enough to keep an eye on and thwart moves like the plot to kidnap Gretchen Whitmer, shoot up the Philly Convention Center or assassinate election officials.

3. Decapitating the intelligence establishment, who, although also strongly right-leaning, are still professional enough to try to thwart a foreign or non-state terrorist attack that could be used as a “wag the dog” excuse for a state of emergency, Reichstag fire event, etc. And there are plenty of corrupt dictators out there who for the right incentives would be happy to oblige.

4. Continued dog whistles to his minions both inside and outside LE, egging on street violence that could provide cover for an invasion of major blue cities.

5. Continued undermining of trust in the election results or basic democratic institutions, resisting a peaceful transition and other such tactics.

6. Continued undermining and misuse of the DOJ.

7. A frenzy of executive orders dispensing wish-list items to elements of the ruling class, accelerated destruction of institutions and agencies that put any brakes at all on their plunder and pillaging either through regulation or potential prosecution. This is coupled with s sudden focus on a “budget” that is sure to include massive give-aways to special interests in the hope of buying enough of the ruling class to his side to help him prevail in a coup and consolidate power.

8. And behind it all, fanning the flames of an epidemic that is working to keep us bottled up and inside our houses while his followers roam freely, at least until they do themselves in, which he hopes will be after they have served their purpose.

Meanwhile, the Democratic establishment is doing NONE of the things that the TIP thought were necessary to forestall a coup or limit street violence. No popular organizing, no encouragement of labor to consider strikes as a tactic, no indication that they have given up on the idea that the fever will break despite all evidence to the contrary. Instead they are papering over the problems, punching left and doing the opposite of what some participants recommended. To quote from the report:

“How should anti-authoritarian interests respond? A number of participants urged Democrats to embrace a new playbook. President Obama’s working assumption was that “the fever would break on the back of electoral defeat,” but this proved to be mistaken; throughout the Obama administration, Republicans refused to compromise or engage in customary negotiations over policy, counting instead on blocking every possible Democratic initiative and waiting for their chance to regain the presidency. These participants cautioned that Democrats should not rely on litigation, moral suasion, or merely hoping that Republicans in Congress or state elected office will “come to their senses.” Instead, they should focus on building more authentic relationships with the left’s base, including by publicly supporting the peaceful protest movement that has emerged since late May, rather than continuing to seek conciliation and compromise with the GOP.”

Bottom line, we’re on our own and I think we need to act like it.



Susan Saxe

I’m a lifelong radical activist, intersectional in outlook since back in the day when we just expressed it as the idea that “everything is connected.” It is.