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.