Table of Contents
Table of Contents 1
Guide to the Guide 4
What is the Goal of this Guide? 4
A Few Final Comments 7
Framing and the Election Process 8
The Lead Up 9
Election Day 10
Count Every Vote 11
False Declaration of Victory 13
Assessing and Responding to Risk: Armed Militias and Digital Security 16
Striking a balance 16
Quick and Dirty Principles for Physical Security 17
Digital Risk: Internal communication and security 18
Quick and Dirty Principles for Organizing Security 18
Useful Digital Security Technologies 19
Thinking Strategically: Framework for Broad and Sustained Disruptive Action 20
Spheres of Influence 20
Building Blocks of Movement Organizing 22
Power Mapping 22
Physical Mapping 22
Points of Intervention 23
Identifying Allies 23
Audience, Messaging, Framing, and Effectiveness 23
Action Logic and Building Capacity 23
Action Preparation Basics 25
Build Support Structures 25
General Advice on Being in the Streets 29
Organizing to Prevent a Coup 31
Getting Into Formation: Building a “Shut-Down Table” 31
Building the Table 32
The Basic Principles of Organizing an Action Council 33
Keeping Track of People 36
Putting Out/Responding to a Call to Mobilize 37
Other Groups Organizing National Action 37
When Institutions Break Down 38
Guide to the Guide
Throughout U.S. history, national politics has moved back and forth between conservative and liberal poles. Nixon, Reagan, and Bush followed the civil rights movement; Trump followed Obama. Conservative backlash follows liberal “progress.” But neither pole has fully fulfilled the cries for justice amongst black, poor, indigenous, queer, trans, and marginalized peoples. Things seem to change, but in the end, so much remains the same.
This year, however, seems to be a flashpoint. We are at a moment in which many people have become so tired of the status quo that they have mobilized in the name of justice. From antiblack violence to pandemics, from environmental devastation to indigenous and queer and trans erasure, we’ve seen people stand up against injustice that affects all of us.
We want to lift up the reality that by working together we can make change happen. We offer this guide as a resource to help with your efforts.
This guide can be used beyond the election, offering resources from a broader movement mindset that are not just for this moment.
What is the Goal of this Guide?
This guide offers a framing and organizational approach to respond to our current electoral moment. We live under a president who is energized by the forces of white supremacy and brutal capitalism. He is empowered to use the state’s resources to repress dissent. And he is encouraged and emboldened by a mass of people who share his interests. We believe the 2020 election will be a flashpoint, and we must be ready.
If the right is prepared to steal the election then we must be prepared to disrupt the status quo and resist. This guide offers resources for organizing in your communities across the country.
It does not encourage or endorse bringing harm to any living thing.
The 2020 election may be a pivotal moment to build toward a vision of transformation. We all must unequivocally acknowledge that there will be issues that remain long after the election is over--things that will require long and sustained organizing efforts. People have been throwing down all across the country for months, so this can’t be just a “call to the streets.” Rather, we need to talk about what’s happening broadly and make a case for developing that street sense into broad, collective strategic action. This guide is a contribution to those efforts.
Whether you’re from Iowa or Portland, Chicago or rural Ohio; whether you’ve been in the game for a while or you’re just starting out, we hope that this guide might offer ideas, strategies, and connections for fomenting and mobilizing large-scale and widespread disruptive activity if there is a coup.
We want to be clear, though: we are not interested in overshadowing the work done by others. There are already many people, communities, and organizations who are already throwing down, already doing the work. This guide is simply a resource that offers support for those who are interested.
For those who are already organizing, you might find two parts of this guide most useful: the Organizing to Prevent a Coup and risk assessment sections, as well as the resources at the end of the guide. There, you will find organizations who are doing similar work, as well as strategies for collaborating across regions and cities.
For those of you who are a bit newer to this work, you might find the Thinking Strategically section to be most useful. There, you will find ideas for organizing communities, mobilizing people, and providing resources for people once mobilization happens.
More information on organizing
Resources for Movement Building
A Few Final Comments
We’ve laid out our framing of the election not as a before/after scenario, but rather in the context of ongoing issues we face in the moment (militia movement, organized voter repression, etc) that will be present no matter the outcome. We’re absolutely not saying the election is useless, but rather the reactivity of the right and the white supremecist will be present no matter who wins (and certainly is present beforehand), but the election will massively change the political terrain for movements over the next four years.
We want to be clear that this guide is a living document. As we gather more information, it will grow and change. We want to work with people and communities, so the more we find out, the more this document will grow.
Framing and the Election Process
This section will discuss how we should prepare for the election. It will specifically discuss how we can prepare during the lead-up to the election, what we should be looking out for on election day, what we will need (to do) if the current president loses and doesn’t want to leave, and how we will need to sustain our actions even after the election is over.
The election is already under attack. We know that individual power holders and institutions are trying to repress the vote. The Postmaster has tried to gut the post office; Florida is disenfranchising people with previous convictions, and on top of this, there are also things that we have little ability to impact--things like Russian interference and lies on social media. Since we anticipate that the election will be contested once the votes begin to roll in, we must prepare.
There are many groups working to protect the election in 2020. Hold the Line has provided an incredibly detailed document for preparing for the election that contains many good resources and solid strategic thinking. We’ve also provided a list of others working on this issue. But the Stopping the Coup guide is different; it offers ways of thinking and enacting a disruption of the status quo in the context of the election without needing to ally with the police or make moral assumptions about tactical choices. We have seen, in city after city, clear signs that police collaborate with white supremacists as purveyors of violence, rather than as people who are there to protect first amendment rights.
4 Phases of the Election
Organizing, Planning, Voter Repression Resistance, Voter Registration and Information Distribution
Direct Voter Assistance, Dealing with Voter Intimidation, Potential Actions at Boards of Elections
Nov 3 -
Count Every Vote
Action to demand that no winner be announced until every vote is counted, mass coordinated action
False Declaration of Victory
Mass Direct Action Mobilizing, Civil Disobedience and Broad Resistance
The Lead Up
Trump is a narcissist and an authoritarian, and the entire conservative movement is happy to use him to maintain power, which means they will not allow the election to proceed without some severe amount of meddling. We might expect to see continued shows of force by DHS, ICE, and other policing (and possibly military) institutions during the lead up to the election as well as more subtle tactics. Everyone working on this issue shares an assessment of the basic questions that we should be considering in the lead up to November.
Is everyone who has registered to vote on the voter rolls?
In the pandemic it has been increasingly hard for people to register to vote. This is important not just for first-time voters, but also for voters who have moved and need to change their address. Most states had a provision for voters to register online. But, it can be very cumbersome and it is not clear that everyone who registered will be on the rolls. If you want to know more about the electoral process--particularly the mail-in electoral process--you can look here and here. If individuals need to check on their voting status, they can also go to www.vote.org. We must pay attention to trends; if you see a pattern and practice of voters not being put on the rolls, it will be necessary to organize actions to help ensure a fair election in your local area.
Are there a sufficient number of polling places?
In the recent primary election in Kentucky, Louisville had only one polling location. In Milwaukee, only five polling stations were open in the city. This is unacceptable. There are two things that we can do here. First, you can be a poll worker. Go to www.powe