The Progressive - October 26, 2020

For an anti-coup to work in the United States, there would need to be plans for specific kinds of mobilizations, including blocking and occupying key governmental, commercial, transport, and other facilities. Such mass actions are important, as they help galvanize the opposition, encourage participation, prevent business as usual in critical urban centers, and provide excellent footage for sympathetic news coverage. 

President Donald Trump’s refusal to agree to a peaceful transfer of power has raised concerns that the Republicans may try to steal the 2020 Presidential Election. 

And while the courts may be insufficient to hinder a Trump coup—especially after the Supreme Court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett—a growing network of organizations is already preparing to launch a large-scale civil resistance movement to defend American democracy.

But if Trump and his Republican allies attempt to invalidate the election results, would enough Americans be able to mobilize to stop it? Could they actually rise up in a massive unarmed insurrection that would enable the legitimate winner of the presidential race to assume office?

In considering these questions, it’s helpful to look at the examples provided by other countries where peoples’ movements successfully reversed the tide of a stolen election. As someone who’s studied pro-democracy civil insurrections around the world, there are plenty of parallels—as well as differences—between what could happen in the United States after November 3, and how ordinary people responded in four other countries during similar crises.

In an article recently published by the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, I examined the cases of the Philippines (1986), Serbia (2000), Ukraine (2004), and Gambia (2016). I noted that what they have in common is:

• Meticulous election monitoring and related efforts which enabled the opposition to make a convincing case that there was indeed fraud, and that there had not been a full and accurate count of the vote;

• Mobilization of a large number of supporters within days as it became apparent that there were efforts underway to steal the election, building on networks of oppositionists which had been active for years; ...
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