All this agonizing over what may happen if President Donald Trump tries to steal the election is highly annoying. It normalizes the idea that pure aggression can easily steamroll the democratic process.
Here are healthier assumptions for those who value a fair election:
If Trump loses, he leaves the White House on Jan. 20, 2021. If, heaven forfend, he wins, then he stays.
If, by evening on Election Day, there is no obvious winner — mail-in ballots still need to be counted — then we wait until the mail ballots are counted. If, by bedtime, Trump leads in-person voting in key swing states and declares victory, then we still wait for the mail-in ballots to be counted. And if that takes days or even weeks, then it takes days or weeks.
It’s thus too bad that The Washington Post has nervously called this last outcome a possible “election-night disaster.” Anti-Trump conservative David Brooks marched anxiety forward by imagining a “nightmare scenario” whereby Trump supporters prematurely hit the streets only to be met with angry Joe Biden voters, and mayhem ensues.
The problem with all this handwringing of what Trump may do is that it helps set a stage for him to do it. And it could spur Biden voters to participate in chaos when they should be keeping their cool.