The Inside Game

Despite the fact that I had the opportunity to graduate from a world class management school I feel I learned more lessons that I could apply to politics and life during the fifteen years I coached high school and then college basketball. Oversimplifying things, one of the decisions you made was rather to employ an inside or outside offensive game. This article will be an inside baseball/nerdy one (I’ll mix sports metaphors throughout it) but I promise it will be interesting to political junkies and hopefully many more. Let’s explore.

If we allow Trump to remain in office America is well on the path to becoming an autocracy and leaving representative democracy in the rear view mirror. The fascist autocrats of 1930’s Europe facilitated their rise in part via their private paramilitary. In their case they had their men in brown or black shirts. Vladimir Putin has his little green men that he deploys and publicly disavows. In recent weeks Trump has deployed his men in camouflage. (I digress for a moment, but am I alone in thinking running around dressed in camouflage in American cities is ridiculous? What are you blending in with except possible future right wing militia reinforcements?)

The key unknown about Trump’s private paramilitary (that somehow the taxpayers are footing the bill for) is how large are they? Another is how loyal will they be on Election Day?

With that in mind I am wondering just how many states they can cover on Election Day to suppress the vote? For some time now I’ve used Rick Wilson’s list of the fifteen states (Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin) that he feels are the 2020 battlegrounds. Wilson and I almost never see eye to eye on political philosophy but he has a great batting average when it comes to the science part of political science and has gotten a lot of less than sterling candidates elected when they used his strategies and tactics.

I am viewing deploying paramilitary forces to the streets as the outside game. I don’t think Trump has enough people to cover the needed turf in fifteen states on Election Day. But what if he didn’t need to play the outside game in some of them?

There are four states where both the Governor and the Chief Election Officer (in these cases, as in most states, the Secretary of State) are both Republicans. They are Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis and Secretary of State Ken Detzner, Georgia’s Governor Brain Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Iowa’s Governor Kim Reynolds and Secretary of State Paul D. Pate along with Ohio’s Governor Mike DeWine and Secretary of State Frank LaRose.

State Secretaries of State pretty much fly under the radar until they don’t. Am I the only one who remembers former Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris circa 2000? Let’s take a brief look at the four governors involved. DeSantis and Kemp are outspoken Trump sycophants who have gotten a lot of press. Iowa’s Reynold’s is a bit more out of the limelight but has proven to be just as loyal to Trump. DeWine of late has been somewhat of a darling of the progressives but I’ve followed his career for decades and if you noticed he didn’t get any praise in this column. The bottom line is that Trump can play the inside game here and never deploy any troops; his sycophants will take care of him. These four states have a combined 69 electoral votes. Florida with 29 is the biggest battleground prize and Ohio with 18 has been the state no Republican has ever won the presidency without carrying. (Georgia has 16 and Iowa 6.)

Here is the part that may relate more to accusations against the New England Patriots and Houston Astros (I’m losing readers all over the country today) the technological inside game. In this case it’s not spying or stealing signs, its cyber interference. With these four states off the board and Trump not having to win all 15 could a foreign led cyber interference swing enough votes to change the outcome in a few of the other 11 that Trump lacks sufficient traitors in camo to cover? I’m not even talking about actually changing votes or totals. How about simply crating enough confusion and slowdowns in certain historically high Democratic turnout precincts to significantly suppress the vote? (Consider Durham County, North Carolina in 2016.)

You could see three pointers, dunks and outside covert interference all resulting in Trump getting it close enough to continue his organized criminal enterprise for at least four more years. He doesn’t need a home run; just a few dishonest no calls, some steals and an uncalled interference or two.

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