In his first in-person event since the end of his 2020 primary campaign for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders on Thursday will deliver a major address on the "unprecedented and dangerous moment" in which Americans find themselves as a result of President Donald Trump's threats to the future of democracy in the United States.
As Common Dreams reported earlier this month, the independent senator from Vermont has been warning his supporters to prepare for a "nightmare scenario" in which Trump bombards the public with misinformation about the results of the November election or refuses to leave office voluntarily if voted out.
Now—in an effort to persuade the country to adopt his agenda for ensuring that voters can participate safely and freely in the election and that the results will be honored—Sanders intends to spend the next several weeks bringing his message to the American people, beginning with Thursday's speech at George Washington University's Jack Morton Auditorium.
This election is about democracy vs. authoritarianism.— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) September 22, 2020
On Thursday I will be giving an address on the unprecedented and dangerous moment we are in right now given President Donald Trump’s unique threats to our democracy.
Tune in at https://t.co/vreIiWfeoS Thursday at 1 p.m. ET. pic.twitter.com/p9q4KP77oa
Since early September, Sanders has suggested in an interview with Politico and in messages to his email list that too many news outlets, social media platforms, legislators, and citizens have underestimated Trump's willingness to maintain his grip on power by undermining the legitimacy of the election—for which early voting has already begun.
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Sanders is not alone in his concerns. As Common Dreams reported at the beginning of the month, researchers have warned that Trump could try to prematurely claim an election night victory on November 3 based on same-day voting by Republicans but excluding millions of uncounted mail-in ballots cast by Democrats in key battleground states, which could unleash confusion and chaos if not adequately handled.
The senator has pointed out other ways Trump is already laying the groundwork for a potential chain of events that could have politically and socially destructive ramifications. In a recent email, Sanders summarized the multiple ways that Trump has threatened U.S. democracy:
- When asked in July if he would accept the results of the November election, Trump told Fox News, "I have to see";
- The president has questioned the legitimacy of mail-in voting, while his Postmaster General has worked to undermine the postal service;
- Despite being behind in almost every national poll and most battleground state polls, Trump told supporters last month that the only way he could lose is if the election is "rigged"; and
- Trump has also threatened to delay the election.
Sanders has been adamant that the country must be prepared to counter any attempt made by Trump to stay in power if he loses to Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
Specific action items endorsed by Sanders include: allowing mail-in-votes to be counted before Election Day, as they arrive; educating the public that there is no longer a single Election Day, which means the final results may not be known on November 3; ensuring that local officials are equipped with a plan for Election Day and the days that follow; and regulating political harassment and disinformation on social media.
"Nothing less than our democracy is at stake," Sanders said in early September.