The 2020 election is sure to be an interesting one, but many people are fearing the worst possible outcome. President Donald Trump has threatened multiple times to deny the results of the election if he loses, and may refuse to leave office. Most notoriously, during a debate with presidential candidate Joe Biden, he told the Proud Boys, a neo-facist white supremacist group, to “stand back and stand by.” These threats have led to fears of martial law being enacted, or even a potential government coup.
The most important thing to know is that the outcome of a coup is determined by the citizens. When a coup happens, citizens must quickly identify a common enemy and focus on their shared values instead of their differences. An example of this is in Argentina during the year 1987, the citizens took to the streets chanting “long live democracy.” They focused on saving democracy instead of their differing political opinions. Most people have been lured into the false sense of security in believing that a coup can’t happen in the US, but it can and has before. In 1898, a white supremacist group staged a coup in Wilmington North Carolina. According to civil rights activist George Lakey, making a plan to defeat a coup is one of the most effective things citizens can do because most coups rely on confusion and disorder. The opposition will likely try to either drag out the election as long as possible or declare victory before all of the ballots have been counted.
Remember to vote early and stand up for democracy. Nobody can say for sure what will happen, but it is important to be prepared and know what to do if we come to a worst-case scenario.