Ready Or Not? Part II

At The American Interest Nils Gilman provides a first person account of a wargaming of the 2020 election which presents a very depressing likelihood:

I helped organize and participated in the Transition Integrity Project last December to assess and guard against the risk of irregularities in the November election. In June 2020, our group conducted scenario planning exercises to model different election scenarios: a big Trump win; a big Biden win; a Biden squeaker; and a truly ambiguous or uncertain result.

Teams were assigned to play the Trump campaign and the Biden campaign, Democratic and Republican elected officials, the media, the judiciary, and the executive branches of government. A group of more one hundred people participated. Recruited from across the political spectrum, they included a Democratic former governor of a swing state (Jennifer Granholm of Michigan), a former Republican National Committee chairman (Michael Steele), a Democratic former presidential Chief of Staff (John Podesta), a Republican former Presidential speechwriter (David Frum), a Republican former Vice Presidential Chief of Staff (Bill Kristol), a former Democratic head of the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice (Vanita Gupta), as well as many senior political operatives, former government officials, and members of the media.

In the scenario exercises, which unfolded over a series of turns designed to simulate the period between November 4 and January 20, each team had a chance to make “moves,” which other teams would debate and counter, with the results adjudicated by a roll of the dice. Following methods common among military wargamers, disaster preparedness experts, and other policy planners, we designed this structure to uncover how the dynamic interactions between competing teams, as well as sheer luck, might produce unexpected results.

The bad news: in each scenario other than a Biden landslide, we ended up with a constitutional crisis that lasted until the inauguration, featuring violence in the streets and a severely disrupted administrative transition. The good news: we also learned a great deal about how to prevent the worst from transpiring. There were six major takeaways.


The next administration will face a number of thorny conundrums in this regard. To take one example: while the country needs to systematically challenge white supremacists and dismantle extremist networks, it is also true that we need a strategy to bind up the wounds that the country has suffered over the last few years. And these two goals are in tension with one another. Likewise, should Biden succeed in taking office, one of the most immediate questions he will face will be what to do about members of the former administration who have committed egregious abuses of power. Should the incoming Department of Justice pursue criminal charges for any wrongdoing they may find, or challenge pardons Trump may issue to himself or others on his way out the door? On the one hand, pursuing criminal charges will be seen by the right as mere political revenge, further poisoning the political atmosphere. On the other hand, letting them walk away scot-free risks further entrenching a culture of political impunity.

One option worth exploring is possibility of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, something South Africa used to confront the legacy of Apartheid in a way that enabled restorative justice. Major factions of both parties feel as if the victory of the other represents an existential risk to their way of life. Restoring the democratic promise of the United States above all will require rebuilding a shared narrative of trust and collective security.

Read the whole thing. What I find most depressing about it is that the worst outcomes could be prevented by the Democratic leadership but the signs suggest they don’t wanna.

30 comments… add one
  • CuriousOnlooker Link

    The author assumes Biden is going to win.

    While it is > 50%, I do not think it is 100%, or even 90%.

    It does not seem he gamed a scenario where Biden loses, Democrats fail to retake the Senate, and lose the House — my guess is the risk of refusing to concede peacefully is highest in that case.

  • Greyshambler Link

    “Challenge white extremists “

    Short list that is. Tells me all I need to know about their agenda

  • PD Shaw Link

    The piece doesn’t seem to go into it, but my understanding is that wargaming concluded that Biden’s team would not concede a close election with irregularities because they believe Trump wouldn’t. They are believed to be modeling their behavior on Trump.

  • CuriousOnlooker Link

    Are Biden’s team modeling their behavior on Trump — or just projecting onto Trump what they themselves do.

    Consider the Nixonian tactics employed against Trump in 2016.

  • or just projecting onto Trump what they themselves do.

    I think that is correct. In the past I mentioned that the chap who first applied the psychological notion of projection to politics was an old friend of my dad’s. However, I think we must concede that Trump invites such things with some of the outlandish things he says, presumably trying to goad his opponents.

  • Grey Shambler Link

    “trying to goad his opponents.”
    It is a weakness, but he’s determined to get even. You hit me, I hit you back twice as hard. I really don’t know if the number of lawsuits he has filed or those filed against him can be counted. It’s a moving target.

  • PD Shaw Link

    To be fair, this is Podesta’s take on what Biden would do, and Biden strikes me as Tilden in this setting, someone quite reluctant to set in motion actions that would encourage seccession.

    Podesta-Biden’s strategy also requires the resolve of Democratic governors in purple states. It has the odor of the national party which sees such governors as being inevitably time-limited, and to be rewarded for service to the national party by appointment to federal office in DC or with a lobbying firm. I wouldn’t be confident that they would accept the parachute under these conditions.

    Also, not clear at all how this strategy surmounts the problem that the House votes by state in contested Presidential elections. Each state gets one vote, not each member, and the Republicans contol a majority of States in the House. This would seem to put effective control of the federal government in any electoral dispute in the hands of Republicans, whether it be the House, the Senate or the SCOTUS.

  • steve Link

    “It does not seem he gamed a scenario where Biden loses, Democrats fail to retake the Senate, and lose the House — my guess is the risk of refusing to concede peacefully is highest in that case.”

    They did in 2016. However, I also wish that he would have gamed a Trump win. Specifically, they should game a scenario where Trump wins the popular vote by 4 million but loses the electoral vote. That could be chaos.


  • TarsTarkas Link

    ‘To be fair, this is Podesta’s take on what Biden would do, and Biden strikes me as Tilden in this setting, someone quite reluctant to set in motion actions that would encourage seccession.’

    If Biden were sentient I might agree; he was a corrupt SOB but I don’t think he’d have gone for a civil war. But at the rate he declining mentally by election day he might have trouble deciding which end of the spoon to put into his mouth. Who is his supposed VP? Who are his real handlers? Her handlers? Who is really going to be in charge to make those kind of decisions? We really don’t know. And the Democratic primary voters didn’t vote for any of these people either. It’s literally 18th century Ottoman Empire palace politics, with viziers and chief wives and Janissary commanders plotting and scheming behind the scenes with and against each other, each trying to manipulate the others, the idiot sultan and/or his idiot heir to their own advantage while the countryside burned.

    Not only did I not see a Trump electoral and popular vote victory gamed out, they didn’t include anyone in their war game who was even remotely Trump favorable and thus might have a real clue as to he might actually do. It’s all projection. They seem to be convinced that Trump would exterminate them if he could, because that is what they mean to do to him (I refer everybody to the infamous David Plouffe remark). Talking about removing him by force if he disputes the election is something you discuss in a SCIF, not openly like these fools are.

    ‘to assess and guard against the risk of irregularities in the November election. In June 2020’

    You want to reduce irregularities and ensure a decently quick tabulation of the votes? Don’t do the blast ballot-by-mail BS. Just don’t do it. Period. And if you lose as a result, you accept your loss and start working towards winning in 2022 and 2024. Trump will be a lame duck in 2022 and gone after 2024. Stop acting as if this election will be the last one ever held in the USA. Because it won’t be and you know it.

    Yeah, I know COVID-19 is dangerous. But aren’t masks and social distancing supposed to reduce the danger to minimal levels? If tens if not hundreds of millions of people are willing every day to stand in line in front of stores wearing masks and social distancing, I can’t believe they wouldn’t be OK doing it for voting.

  • jan Link

    Bill Kristal, David Frum, Michael Steele, were chosen to be R representatives – all anti-Trump, establishment republicans? Not worthy of a read.

  • CuriousOnlooker Link

    To be fair; Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, have abdicated their responsibilities to avert the worse outcomes. Look at the clown show that was “negotiations” between Republicans themselves and between Republicans and Democrats on extending aid due to the coronavirus.

    Put up your hand if you trust Congress to settle a disputed presidential election!

  • Grey Shambler Link
  • Drew Link

    To coin a phrase……..not worthy of a read.

    An unfortunate and all too common situation these days.

  • TastyBits Link

    Before I crawl back into my hole, would somebody explain why as everything remotely racist is destroyed or renamed that the party created by racists to further racism is not dismantled?

    slaughtering Seminole Native Americans – Democrats
    stealing Cherokee Native American land – Democrats
    forced re-location of Cherokee Native Americans – Democrats
    defending slavery – Democrats
    creating Ku Klux Klan – Democrats
    creating Jim Crow laws – Democrats
    segregating the US military – Democrats
    interning Japanese-American citizens – Democrats
    refused to allow Little Rock School integration – Democrats
    Bull Connor – Democrats
    George Wallace – Democrats
    KKK Exalted Cyclops as Senate Leader – Democrats
    Presidential nominee who voted for the Exalted Cyclops – Democrats
    white progressives burning down black neighborhoods – Democrats
    creating systemic racism – Democrats
    benefiting from systemic racism – Democrats

    let the motherf*cker burn

  • Memory is short, TastyBits, and people tend to forget what it is convenient to forget. You’re just scratching the surface. Woodrow Wilson, the father of Democratic progressivism, for example, had Birth of a Nation shown at the White House, supported eugenics, and brought Jim Crow to the federal government. Although W. E. B. Du Bois criticized both T. Roosevelt and Wilson he warmed again to Roosevelt. After transferring his support from Roosevelt to Wilson he later went back to supporting Roosevelt.

  • TastyBits Link

    If we listed all the Democrat racism, you would need to take out a 2nd mortgage to pay for the bandwidth. Assuming you were not cancelled first.

    When people are suddenly remembering the names of obscure Confederate Generals, I find it interesting that nobody is woke enough to recall all the carnage the Democrats have caused, and are still causing.

    Is there any black neighborhood that a white progressive will not burn down or force out the residents? The woke woman in NYC Central Park calling the police because a black man got too close is not an aberration. Being from Chicago, you probably know a lot of the same woke white progressives. I do.

    Portland – coming to a town near you.

  • TastyBits Link

    Could somebody riddle me this?

    By woke standards, Joe Biden is an out-and-out racist, and he is the presidential nominee of the most racist party in history. How is that none of the woke progressives seem to notice?

    Maybe, it takes a racist to fight racism. Yeah, that must be it. Or, could it be that pretending that the racist is not racist allows racism to perpetuate.

    Somehow white woke progressives never repatriate any of their white privilege obtained through systemic racism. White privilege is simply woke racism. Being woke means never having to admit being a racist.

    “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”
    Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Hunter S. Thompson

  • Or all of the demonstrations and riots in the final analysis are just some combination of letting off steam and posturing.

    That, it seems to me, is the best case scenario. What concerns me is the possibility that there is a hard core of protesters (rioters) who won’t be satisfied by letting off steam and posturing.

  • jan Link

    Tasty, I have often wondered the same thing, about how the democrat party can get away with projecting all their cruel acts and policies onto another party, and have the victims of their misdeeds believe them. It’s like putting gauze over history, and then totally revising it to fit the present day shallow needs of the Dems. The callous proclamation. of social progressives, when they crow about being for the underprivileged and minorities is so misleading, especially when one reviews the true history of black Americans and their Dem obstructed struggle for civil rights.

  • Drew Link

    “By woke standards, Joe Biden is an out-and-out racist, and he is the presidential nominee of the most racist party in history. How is that none of the woke progressives seem to notice?”

    C’mon, Tasty, seriously? You know the answer. The woke progressives don’t give a rats ass about racism. Its a convenient tool for recruitment and justifying their objectives, which really are Marxist or anarchist in nature. You can read it at their website. And if that doesn’t convince you. Just read the writings of the BLM and Antifa leaders. The death of George Floyd was not a tragedy but a celebration for them, an opportunity.

    The real tragedy is the complicity of Democrats, media and social media sympathizers who refuse to acknowledge the obvious for local political aims or false but perceived high minded intellectual status.

    Qui tacet consentire videtur

  • Qui tacet consentire videtur

    Silence signifies assent.

  • steve Link

    “. How is that none of the woke progressives seem to notice?”

    Most people noticed that the racists left the Dam party and joined the GOP when LBJ passed Civil Rights stuff. Nixon sealed the deal. This is old stuff. No one on the left reads Antifa since they are anarchists and they dont like Dems. Read it just as often as you read KKK literature.


  • the racists left the Dam party

    That’s a good one.

  • TastyBits Link


    Sorry, but Democrats are the party of racists. Joe Biden voted for Exalted Cyclops Byrd to be the Democrat Senate leader. By woke standards, he is the same as Bull Connor, another Democrat. I do not think that Joe Biden would be lynching “n*gg*rs”, but obviously, he has no problem with others doing it.

    There is only one pro-Exalted Cyclops candidate, and he is nominee of the party that defended slavery, founded the KKK, and created Jim Crow. By the way, when did the Democrats acknowledge their racism, renounce their racism, and apologize for their racism. Rebranding is not the path to redemption.

    Also, systemic racism is the direct result of the Democrat Party, and any reparations should begin with them. It is long past time for the Democrats to take responsibility for the carnage they have wrought, but instead, I expect they will blame everybody else. It’s pathetic.

    Gen Bragg has been dead for almost 150 years, but wokeness demands that his long forgotten name be removed from an Army base. Surely, the party of the KKK, Jim Crow, Bull Connor, Exalted Cyclops Byrd, and Joe Biden should be removed as well.

    I live in a (once) black majority city, and I know exactly how woke white progressives act when they are around black people they cannot control. The NYC woke white woman calling the police on a black man being in the white woke section of the park is not an aberration. De Facto segregation is segregation, nonetheless.

    With the passage of the Civil Rights Acts, Democrats needed a new tactic to control black people. Burning down poor black neighborhoods, limiting black population through abortion, allowing the slaughter of innocent black people, and impoverishing black people is racist. Period.

    I would suggest that you read Antifa stuff. They will be coming for you long before they come for me – heretics first, non-believers second. Heretics must be punished to control the faithful.

    To be honest, you seen like a nice guy, but I will be roasting hotdogs while they burn you at the stake. It’s your world. It’s your rules, enjoy.

    Burn, Baby Burn

  • steve Link

    I will see your Robert Byrd and raise you with a Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond. So sorry, it is just an historical fact that the Southern Democrats who promoted Jim Crow left the Democrats and joined the GOP after LBJ pass Civil Rights legislation. Those northern liberal Republicans are now all Democrats. Those Southerners are in the GOP. Byrd at least apologized for his KKK membership and racist attitudes. So Biden didnt vote for him because he had been in the KKK.

    ” Burning down poor black neighborhoods, limiting black population through abortion, allowing the slaughter of innocent black people, and impoverishing black people is racist. ”

    Hard to argue with conspiracy theory. I guess I should note that abortion is legal for white people, Hispanics and Asians too so we on the left were really trying to eliminate the whole human race. Kind of sucks that you found us out so easily.


  • Those northern liberal Republicans are now all Democrats.

    Most are dead; some of their ideological descendants became Democrats but I suspect even more are now independents.

  • TastyBits Link


    Which presidential nominee voted to elect a racist to be the Senate leader?

    I would think that voting for an resigned Exalted Cyclops would be a disqualification for being president, but apparently not.

    So, the racist Democrats rebranded themselves, and to prove that all the racist Democrats should not vote for non-racist Democrats, they elected the retired KKK recruiter.

    How many lynchings does one apology cover? I would think that present or past KKK membership would be an easy disqualification, but I guess the Democrats respect the leadership experience of an Exalted Cyclops.

    Honestly, do you believe the shit you are shovelling?

    … Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond …

    Democrat racism is being discussed, , and non-Democrat racism does not make Democrat racism acceptable, at least to non-racists. Maybe you mean that Joe Biden never voted for either, but to my knowledge, neither was a klansman. I guess that would explain his lack of an endorsement

    1. burning down poor black neighborhoods – the neighborhoods those woke white progressives burning down in Minneapolis and Baltimore are poor and black

    2. limiting black population through abortion – goal of Margret Sanger’s Planned Parenthood is still advanced by Democrats

    3. allowing the slaughter of innocent black people – turn on the news

    4. impoverishing black people – social agenda that destroys mostly families

    I fail to see any conspiracy, but then, I fail to understand the logic of electing a retired klansman to prove you are not a racist. I believe that you all call that a “dog whistle”.

    When the woke progressives take a break from burning and looting, they will be coming for you. If I know enough woke thought to know Joe Biden is a racist, they will figure it out as soon as they lay off the bong. It’s your world. It’s your rules, enjoy

    S’mores Time

  • 4. impoverishing black people – social agenda that destroys mostly families

    and denouncing Democrats who point that out as racists. It’s a strange world.

  • steve Link

    The Pope was a Nazi and Reagan was a democrat. People really do change. Helms and Thurmond actually ran on Jim Crow platform. You dont need to join the klan to be racist. The GOP welcomed those southern democrats into the party. So unless you have evidence that Biden voted for Byrd because Byrd still espoused those same beliefs and Biden supported those also this is nonsense.

    ” limiting black population through abortion – goal of Margret Sanger’s Planned Parenthood is still advanced by Democrats”

    100 years ago. Also, it’s almost as if for you black people have no agency. White people have abortions because of their own personal needs. Black people have them only because white people tell them to do so. This is conspiracy BS.

    “allowing the slaughter of innocent black people ”

    Yup, we will probably end up with 50 or 60 dead black people, about the same number as unarmed black people killed by police over the last 5 years or so. Many fewer than if we had a competent response to Covid. Many fewer than if we had a rational approach to drug enforcement that didnt disproportionately place blacks in jail.

    “I fail to see any conspiracy, but then, I fail to understand the logic of electing a retired klansman to prove you are not a racist.”

    I am unaware of any quotes from Biden or claims by others at the time that Biden was voting for Byrd to prove he was not a racist. I am sure you have lots of quotes to back up that claim.


  • TastyBits Link


    … Helms and Thurmond …

    Not germane to the discussion. I do not care about Republicans. They are assholes, and I dislike them slightly less than Democrats.

    The Catholic Church believes in redemption. You need to discuss your Pope problem with a Catholic follower.

    As an ex-Democrat, Regan was able to get Democrats to vote for Republicans. As an ex-klansman, Exalted Cyclops Byrd was able to get racists to vote for the suddenly non-racists.

    Joe Biden voted for a retired Exalted Cyclops to be the Senate leader at a time when Democrats needed racist voters. It is quite likely that Joe Biden had no idea that Byrd was an ex-klansman. So, you got me there. Joe Biden is a complete idiot not a racist.

    Apparently, it takes more than 100 years to wash away a racist past. Columbus has been dead for over 500 years. Most Founding Fathers have been dead for about 200 years, and most Confederate Generals have been dead for about 150 years.

    (Is Hillary Clinton going to renounce her hero Margret Singer? Are you going to renounce Woodrow Wilson, FDR, and Exalted Cyclops Byrd? You may want to re-read the wokeness manual. Only racists want to honor and preserve a past with even a twinge of racism.)

    Abortion clinics are in poor black neighborhoods for the same reason Payday Loans and criminals are there. They prey on the most vulnerable. Poor black people have been warehoused in shitholes that woke white people refuse to go anywhere near the shitholes they have created.

    Let us not forget that Payday Loans and abortion clinics are possible because of slavery. Actually, they are just another means to control black people.

    The criminals who are allowed to prey upon the poor black neighborhoods will kill more than 50-60 innocent people, but one is too many. Police shooting unarmed innocent victims is not the same as shooting criminals. “When you play the game, that’s just how it goes.”

    (That goes for the police as well. If you go to work worrying about making it home, you need to find a less dangerous job. Bus drivers get to wear a uniform, and it is not an inherently dangerous job. For anybody who does not know, I was a Deputy in New Orleans.)

    I was there for the 1980’s crack wars, and it was not a few wayward youths “acting out”. Much like the scum in Chicago, New Orleans, and other cities, these are remorseless killers. They are nihilists who do not care about their own lives.

    Those same drug laws place men disproportionately in jail. It is not difficult to use statistics to falsify reality. The criminal justice system is f*cked-up from top-to-bottom and side-to-side. Darker and poorer get f*cked worse, but it is not a cake walk for anybody.

    This is one thing you can blame on Republicans and President Reagan. To finance the Nicaraguan Contras, the CIA protected cocaine being imported through poor black neighborhoods, and the reduced importation costs allowed cheap crack to be sold.

    Somehow, woke progressives never live around or work with the drug gangsters they admire, and by allowing these animals back into poor black neighborhoods, the poor black residents are dependent upon the woke progressives. Why am I not surprised?

    If NAMBLA rebrands itself as a child protection organization, hiring a convicted child molester as president is probably a dog whistle. After rebranding themselves, Democrats elected an ex-klansman as Senate leader – dog whistle, or am I to believe that the only Senator capable of doing the job was a retired Exalted Cyclops?

    So, Joe Biden voted for the retired Exalted Cyclops because he believed being a klansman was a job qualification, because he was unaware Byrd was an ex-klansman, because he did not care, or because he was good at calling dogs. Stupid, insensitive, or racist, which one is he?

    Live by wokeness. Die by wokeness, enjoy.

    Let the Motherf*cker Burn

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