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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Nezar Hamze is a conservative Muslim — not religiously conservative, but financially and socially conservative — who wanted to join the Broward Republican Executive Committee in Broward County, Florida. Last Tuesday, the committee voted to deny his membership application, as a crowd of Republican onlookers cheered and called him a “terrorist.”

When asked his political beliefs, Hamze told Salon magazine’s Justin Elliott, “I’m a strict social conservative, a fiscal conservative, a very strict constitutionalist. The protection of civil liberties for all Americans is supreme.” These beliefs fit with the Republican Party’s platform. But Hamze, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations Florida, disagrees with Republican orthodoxy on one key point: he doesn’t think it makes sense to treat all American Muslims like enemies and potential terrorists.

Last year, Hamze challenged Rep. Allen West (R-FL) at a town hall, objecting to his Islamophobic remarks. Later, he sent a letter to Rep. West asking him not to associate with bigots like Pamela Geller, whose anti-Muslim ideology was endorsed by Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Brieivik. That many Republicans believe Hamze’s criticism of Rep. West shows he is insufficiently Republican shows a major problem with the Republican Party. If the Republicans make hating Muslims a condiiton of joining their party, they will never attract Muslims or non-Muslims who nonetheless believe it’s wrong to attack an entire group of people based on their religion.

Where does that leave Muslims who actually hold conservative views but aren’t welcome in the Republican Party because they’re the wrong religion? “A lot of Muslims I know,” Hamze told Elliott, “their values really line up with the conservative values of the Republican party.” In fact, the main reason Hamze tried to join BREC was so he could start a “Muslim Republicans” club for Muslims with conservative political views.

Just before his membership application was denied in a secret vote, Hamze addressed the crowd of Republicans: “I’m aligned with Republican values. And I want to serve the party.” But the Republicans don’t want his service, apparently because they feel it’s more valuable to court the Islamophobic vote. Hamze and his Muslim Republican friends may want to “fight the myth of the Muslim vote being Democratic,” as he explained to Elliott, but it’s not a myth when the Republicans refuse to let the Muslim vote become Republican. In the end, it seems, Democrats will continue to benefit from the simple fact that they do have not made the demonization of an entire group of Americans based on their religion a central part of their party platform.

Many Democrats are getting nervous about the upcoming presidential election. Ominous, extensively reported articles by two of the best in the business—the New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin and The Atlantic's Barton Gellman—outline Boss Trump's plot to keep control of the White House in 2021 no matter how the American people vote.
Trump is hardly making a secret of it. He's pointedly refused to commit to "a peaceful transfer of power."

"Well, we're going to have to see what happens," is how he answered the question. He added that after we "get rid of the ballots"—presumably mail-in ballots he's been whining about for weeks--"there won't be a transfer, frankly. There'll be a continuation."

Of course, Trump himself has always voted by mail, but then brazen hypocrisy is his standard operating mode. If you haven't noticed, he also lies a lot. Without prevaricating, boasting, and bitching, he'd be mute. And even then, he'd still have Twitter. He recently tweeted that the winner "may NEVER BE ACCURATELY DETERMINED" because mail-in ballots make it a "RIGGED ELECTION in waiting."
Gellman gets this part exactly right in The Atlantic: "Let us not hedge about one thing. Donald Trump may win or lose, but he will never concede. Not under any circumstance. Not during the Interregnum and not afterward. If compelled in the end to vacate his office, Trump will insist from exile, as long as he draws breath, that the contest was rigged.
"Trump's invincible commitment to this stance will be the most important fact about the coming Interregnum. It will deform the proceedings from beginning to end. We have not experienced anything like it before."
No, we haven't. However, it's important to remember that Trump makes threats and promises almost daily that never happen. Remember that gigantic border wall Mexico was going to pay for? Trump has built exactly five miles of the fool thing, leaving roughly two thousand to go.
His brilliant cheaper, better health care plan? Non-existent.
On Labor Day, Boss Trump boasted of his unparalleled success in strong-arming Japan into building new auto-manufacturing plants. "They're being built in Ohio, they're being built in South Carolina, North Carolina, they're being built all over and expanded at a level that we've never seen before."
Not a word of that is true. Two new plants, one German, another Swedish have opened in South Carolina, but construction began before Trump took office. Auto industry investment during Barack Obama's second term far exceeded Trump's. His version is sheer make-believe.
But back to the GOP scheme to steal the election.
First, it's clear that even Trump understands that he has virtually no chance of winning the national popular vote. He's been polling in the low 40s, with no sign of change. To have any chance of prevailing in the Electoral College, he's got to do the electoral equivalent of drawing to an inside straight all over again—winning a half-dozen so-called battleground states where he defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016 by the narrowest of margins.
At this writing, that looks highly unlikely. The latest polling in must-win Pennsylvania, for example, shows Trump trailing Joe Biden by nine points. That's a landslide. Trump's down ten in Wisconsin, eight in Michigan. And so on.
So spare me the screeching emails in ALL CAPS, OK? Polls were actually quite accurate in 2016. Trump narrowly defeated the odds. It can happen. But he's in far worse shape this time. Furthermore, early voting turnout is very high, with Democrats outnumbering Republicans two to one.
Hence, The Atlantic reports, "Trump's state and national legal teams are already laying the groundwork for post-election maneuvers that would circumvent the results of the vote count in battleground states."
The plan is clear. Because more Democrats than Republicans are choosing mail-in voting during the COVID pandemic, Trump hopes to prevent those ballots from being counted. Assuming he'll have a narrow "swing state" lead on election night, he'll declare victory and start filing lawsuits. "The red mirage," some Democrats call it.
"As a result," Toobin writes, "the aftermath of the 2020 election has the potential to make 2000 look like a mere skirmish." With Trump in the White House urging armed militias to take to the street.
Mail-in votes take a long time to count. Things could definitely get crazy.
True, but filing a lawsuit to halt a Florida recount was one thing. Filing suits against a half dozen states to prevent votes from being counted at all is quite another. Public reaction would be strong. Also, winning such lawsuits requires serious evidence of fraud. Trumpian bluster ain't evidence.
The Atlantic reports that GOP-controlled state legislatures are thinking about sending Trumpist delegations to the Electoral College regardless of the popular vote winner—theoretically constitutional but currently illegal.
Fat chance. If that's the best they've got, they've got nothing.
Anyway, here's the answer: Vote early, and in person*.

[Editor's note: In some states, receiving an absentee ballot means that a voter can no longer vote in person* or may have to surrender the absentee ballot, including the envelope in which it arrived, at their polling place. Please check with your local election authorities.]