The final days before the 2020 presidential election have been, in a word, eventful. On Sunday night, NBC News reported that the White House has instructed crews to build a “non-scalable” fence surrounding the White House and nearby Lafayette Park and The Ellipse. Federal authorities will erect the fence on Monday in preparation for potential unrest. After abruptly canceling his election night event at the Trump International Hotel, it appears that Trump is preparing to hunker down into lockdown mode.
According to CNN, Washington, D.C. Metro Police Chief Peter Newsham warned the city’s District Council that there was an “expectation of some type of civil unrest following the election.” It’s clear who Trump expects the unrest to originate from.
On Friday, a caravan of Trump supporters boxed in a Joe Biden campaign bus in Austin, Texas, leading to one minor collision which was caught on video. The intimidation tactic led Texas Democrats to cancel three scheduled events that day, citing safety concerns. The FBI is now investigating the incident, to the president’s apparent chagrin.
“In my opinion, these patriots did nothing wrong,” Trump tweeted Sunday.” Instead, the FBI & Justice should be investigating the terrorists, anarchists, and agitators of ANTIFA, who run around burning down our Democrat run cities and hurting our people!”
On Monday, Trump continued his tirade, tweeting, “This story is FALSE. They did nothing wrong. But the ANTIFA Anarchists, Rioters and Looters, who have caused so much harm and destruction in Democrat run cities, are being seriously looked at!”
Despite the fact that it was his own supporters potentially attempting to run the Biden campaign truck off the road, Trump believed the real danger comes from those robbing a Walmart or protesting police violence. They are who the barriers are meant to deter.
(Unsurprisingly, Trump had little to say about North Carolina police pepper-spraying harmless attendees of a get-out-the-vote rally on Saturday. In Trump’s world, violence is never done at the hand of the state, only by those trying to survive within it.)
But even if Trump’s nightmares of a storming of the Bastille for the Antifa era came true, the only scenario in which it’s even remotely feasible is if Trump manages to win an election in which his competitor is favored to win. Or, more realistically, if Trump doesn’t win, but declares himself the rightful victor anyway. On Sunday, Trump denied recent reports that he plans to declare himself the winner of the presidential election if he’s ahead by midnight, before many mail-in or absentee ballots will be tabulated. Still, his clarifying statement wasn’t any more reassuring: “I think it’s a terrible thing when ballots can be collected after an election. I think it’s a terrible thing when states are allowed to tabulate ballots for a long period of time after the election is over.”
He then vowed to get lawyers involved “as soon as that election’s over.”
It’s clear that if Trump doesn’t achieve a decisive victory, he plans to contest the election results, possibly rendering them illegitimate with the help of conservative-majority courts. This move would certainly spark outrage, and he’s building a fortress in preparation; all he needs is a moat. But it would be chaos of his own making, a craven attempt to put a literal barrier between himself and the righteously indignant people he serves.
On Monday morning, a video of Trump encouraging early voting was uploaded to his official Twitter account.
“Don’t let them take your vote away,” Trump warned. “The most important election we’ve ever had.”