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Stochastic terrorism v. direct incitement

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Here’s a good interview with counter-terrorism scholar Juliette Kayyem (her speciality is Trump and Trumpism), about what may happen between now and next January.

It may be after this election, but I said long ago, I think progressives and Democrats like me, we should be content—maybe not satisfied—but content enough if this ends with Trump completely isolated with his bozos in Florida, dying alone with wife No. 5. Because I think about measures of success. I’m in disaster management. The idea that the only measure of success is him in an orange suit is ridiculous. First of all, democracy has many swords. It can’t just be, “The law is gonna save us.” It’s going to be citizenry, it’s going to be smart reporters reporting on this. It is going to be financial, as we’re starting to see. It’s going to be people simply walking away from the madness. And I guess the last metric is, how do I measure that this thing isn’t growing? Well, the Proud Boys are gone. The Oath Keepers are gone. As someone who comes out of counterterrorism, they’re not getting bigger. They’ve turned on each other. They can’t raise money. You can’t recruit if everyone thinks you’re going to end up in jail. But whether this is a failure of our democracy or just the nature of democracy, this one fell swoop of victory against this guy is just not the way to think about it. . . .

So there’s three periods I worry about: Now until November. This we know already because we’ve been promised it, which is going to be violence or the threat of violence as the extension of the electoral process. That’s going to focus on election workers, judges, and others. We’re already seeing this; he’s already trying to do this. We’re not seeing anything organized—it’s the randoms. The randoms can be scary, but it’s not a movement that is unmanageable. So that just means greater efforts to protect courthouses and judges. It involves federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, including intelligence-sharing, including threat assessments. Now, the good news is, this is likely confined to six states. It’s going to be Arizona and North Carolina and Georgia and Michigan and a few other swing states.

Period two is between Election Day and when someone is called. If it’s not called the first day, that’s going to be insane. Biden is in charge of the federal apparatus; governors have their own law enforcement statuses, and we’d better be ready for that. We’d better be ready to take states to court that are using state law enforcement in violation of due process and the protection of laws of equal access. We need Biden to own this.

The third period is who wins. So let’s say it’s Trump. Do the institutions hold? I doubt it. I think that this is a once-in-a-lifetime election, a once-in-a-nationtime election. If Biden wins, then we have to anticipate that Trump only has two narratives left. One is: He’s in jail. The other is: He’s the victim. He’s going to pick the latter. The one way that you create this narrative is to create a lot of mayhem. And that scenario, we’re not talking about enough. I know it’s hard for people to imagine, but Biden could very much win. Trump continues to be Trump, and the only thing he has is to bring it all down, right? We know that, and we know that right now. So how do we protect ourselves through a variety of means?

This is very much a good news bad news situation, with the same fact — Trump is getting increasingly desperate — being both the good and bad news.

We need to be ready for violence, which ultimately means being ready to respond to it with more.

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