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What If 2020 Was Just a Rehearsal?

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What if 2020 was just a rehearsal?Rick Hasen isn't getting much sleep these days.

One of the nation’s foremost experts on the laws that hold together democracy in America, Hasen used to be concerned about highly speculative election “nightmare scenarios”: the electrical grid being hacked on Election Day, or the pandemic warping turnout, or absentee ballots totally overwhelming the postal service. But now, what keeps him up at night aren’t fanciful “what if” exercises: It’s what has actually happened over that past nine months, and how it could truly blow up in the next presidential election.

For the first time in American history, the losing candidate refused to concede the election — and rather than dismissing him as a sore loser, a startling number of Americans have followed Donald Trump down his conspiratorial rabbit hole. The safeguards that ensured he left office last January after losing the presidential election may be crumbling: The election officials who certified the counts may no longer be in place next time he falsely claims victory; if Republicans take Congress, a compliant Speaker could easily decide it’s simply not in his interest to let the party’s leader lose.

“You could look at 2020 as the nadir of American democratic processes, or you could look at it as a dress rehearsal,” says Hasen, a professor of law at UC Irvine.

To understand this fragile moment for American democracy, you could take a 30,000-foot view of a nation at the doorstep of a constitutional crisis, as Robert Kagan recently did for the Washington Post. Or you could simply look around you at what’s happening at the ground level, in broad daylight, visible to the naked eye, as Hasen has been doing. As he sees it, it’s time for us all to wake up.

TVNL Comment: Be afraid, America.  Be very afraid.

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