Using their expertise in past coups, professionals who assisted in overthrowing governments globally have developed thorough resources and a radical guide to instruct far-left groups — who have been training for months — in toppling a government.
Under the guise of preventing a coup, left wing groups have been planning their own — if things don’t go as they desire on Election Day.
One site, titled “Choose Democracy,” which states, “an immediate massive response is crucial to stopping a coup“ on its homepage, provides both actions to take as well as resources describing “how other countries have successfully prevented coups.”
Millions of people can delegitimize a coup by “demonstrating, resisting orders, and shutting down the country,” the site states.
The site also prescribes a pledge which demands, “If we need to, we will shut down this country to protect the integrity of the democratic process.”
Proposing individuals become familiar with worldwide coup attempts and tactics necessary to defeat them, the site encourages readers to counter voter suppression on Election Day by documenting “intimidation” and, in the days following, to hit the streets in protest.
“We need an unprecedented number of Americans to take to the streets and stay in the streets until he [Trump] concedes,” Choose Democracy stated in a recent tweet. “But protest won’t be enough.”
What we’re talking about is a coup.
We need an unprecedented number of Americans to take to the streets and stay in the streets until he concedes.
But protest won’t be enough.
Keep reading for 3 things Democrats can do to stop Trump from stealing the election.
— choosedemocracy (@choosedemo) October 31, 2020
A training description reads:
There’s a chance that a desperate Trump will respond to a narrow victory by Biden by declaring the election fraudulent, urging his base to support his continued Presidency. This training will share the most important things to know and practice in order to be ready for that possibility.
The site’s sole workshop is led by George Lakey, best known for his 1964 A Manual for Direct Action, often referred to as the civil-rights movement’s “bible.” Lakey has led over 1,500 workshops and a number of social change movements on five continents and trained activists in countries such as South Africa, Thailand, and Sri Lanka in their struggles against repressive regimes.
He also co-founded and led Training for Change, which trained activists from all over the world in tactics for overthrowing despotic regimes.
Lakey’s self-proclaimed mentor and friend, the late Gene Sharp, considered the American godfather of nonviolent resistance, on many occasions was on the ground with his colleagues providing counsel to secessionist movements throughout the world.
Sharp’s works have influenced almost every major revolution in the past thirty years, with his book From Dictatorship to Democracy being translated into over thirty languages and cited by protest movements around the world.
Sharp’s handbooks on nonviolent protest were widely disseminated during the Eastern Europe color revolutions, the Arab spring revolutions and the Occupy movement in the U.S. In the 90’s, Sharp’s books were used to plan the nonviolent civilian defense of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia against the Soviet Union’s attempts to crush their independence, leading the Lithuanian defense minister to declare, “I would rather have this book [“From Dictatorship to Democracy”] than the atomic bomb.”
The Choose Democracy site also links to a comprehensive guide detailing how to “defend democracy.”
The guide, titled, “Hold the Line: A Guide to Defending Democracy,” is designed to help people “take action” to ensure a successful election. Claiming that “we face a long list of real and potential challenges in the upcoming November election that demand a heightened level of civic awareness and engagement,” the guide elaborates on “how to prepare and what to do in case attempts are made to subvert the election results.”
“We are an interracial, intergenerational group with experience in U.S. activism, organizing, and training (in the U.S. and abroad), as well as expertise in pro-democracy movements around the world,” the guide’s introduction states.
Several authors of the guide are listed: Hardy Merriman, Ankur Asthana, Marium Navid, and Kifah Shah, all of whom have been conducting daily training and outcome simulations.
Hardy Merriman, President of the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC), has worked in the field of civil resistance for nearly two decades, presenting workshops for activists and organizers worldwide. For practitioners, he co-authored A Guide to Effective Nonviolent Struggle, which is a training curriculum for activists.
Merriman has developed resources and spoken widely about civil resistance movements with academics, journalists, and members of international organizations while working for years with Lakey’s mentor, Gene Sharp, the leading theorist of non-violent resistance, and even contributing a chapter to one of Sharp’s books and providing editorial support for several shorter publications of his.
Ankur Asthana, the next author, is a trainer with Momentum, a training institute founded by alumni of protest movements like United We Dream, Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, and the fossil fuel divestment campaigns. Momentum gives progressive organizers the tools and frameworks to build massive, decentralized social movements while synthesizing the lessons of various 20th century movements, including the Color Revolutions of Eastern Europe and the Arab Spring in North Africa. Its stated purpose includes “challenging the institutions and policies that uphold capitalism, racism, and patriarchy.“
Marium Navid is also the author of various essays supporting the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement policies for UC campuses and the ASUC, while Kifah Shah, the fourth author, serves as the senior campaign manager of MPower, the largest Muslim digital advocacy organization in the U.S. with a membership over a quarter million. Mpower was founded by radical left-wing activist Linda Sarsour and its vision entails Muslim-led organizing for a progressive political future.
In the guide, the authors focus primarily on the period between Election Day and Inauguration Day and accuse the President, members of the right, and law enforcement of bing culpable for any resulting chaos.
“We want an orderly process. Trump is the one who is sowing chaos,” the guide reads
The guide is broken into four parts: critical actions to take prior to Election Day; potential post-election scenarios; organizing neighborhood election protection groups; and how other societies have toppled rulers as a model for the U.S.
The guide directs readers to register and commit to vote while helping others do the same and signing up and recruiting others to serve as poll workers — who are even authorized to help open and count mailed ballots — to prevent “possible voter suppression attempts.”
In planning for Election Day, the guide claims that President Trump “has shown that he is more concerned with staying in power than having a fair election” and “does not get to slant the election.”
In discussing possible election scenarios, the guide quotes the rabid anti-Trump Transition Integrity Project’s (TIP) report.
“We assess with a high degree of likelihood that November’s elections will be marked by a chaotic legal and political landscape,” it states, adding that “President Trump is likely to contest the result by both legal and extra-legal means in an attempt to hold onto power.”
As reported by Breitbart News, the TIP report’s founder herself, Rosa Brooks, advocated for a military coup only days after President Trump’s 2016 inauguration.
Throughout the guide, warnings of potential violence are seen as emanating solely from President Trump and his supporters.
“Trump supporters may begin to show up armed to confront protesters who oppose Trump’s actions” and that “acts of violence could then cause Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act (as he did in June 2020 against nonviolent protesters) and call on the military to restore ‘law and order.’”
If President Trump were to lose the election, the guide postulates, he would have “a strong incentive to try to sow chaos and provoke violence so that he could crack down” on dissidents.
The next section, titled “Strategies to Respond,” directs readers to seek powerful examples from beyond the U.S. as to how to “defeat election fraud, coups, and violent autocrats.”
“We can learn from these experiences and our own history,” the guide asserts, as it lists examples of how to successfully execute widespread resistance:
When strikers refuse to work, businesses or the government cannot run. When people refuse to pay taxes, the government is starved for revenue. When consumers boycott products, businesses can no longer profit. When truckers, port workers, and rail workers stop, goods can no longer circulate. When large numbers of people protest and engage in other forms of noncooperation, the government does not have the capacity to continually control all those people and enact oppressive practices and policies.
The guide continues to reiterate the power of numbers.
“Trump can deploy federal agents to specific cities to try to hurt and scare people, but he can’t deploy them everywhere simultaneously,” it reads.
The third section details how to take action, notably by recruiting members and creating teams, developing response plans, and preparing “to execute your plan,” while law enforcement is accused of encouraging armed individuals against protestors.
“Given the encouragement by some police officers of armed individuals against protestors in places like Kenosha, Wisconsin, pressuring the police publicly may be one way to help reduce the likelihood of this kind of interaction in the future,” it reads, suggesting that team members “monitor potential police interaction with civilian-based armed groups that may show up to public actions.”
Police are also accused of racism and discrimination.
“If you choose to interact with the police, you should keep in mind that members of your team can experience risks unequally (for example: based on immigration status, race, past legal history),” the guide states.
Team members are expected to “take turns reading the [group’s] principles out loud” and “make sure each person commits” to them.
In the last section, titled “Model of Change,” the guide’s authors claim they “recognize that there has been a breakdown of government institutions in the U.S. in recent years.
Bribes, corruption, threats and intimidation, extreme dishonesty, attacks on whistleblowers, ongoing violations of norms and democratic processes, demonizing opponents, statements that can incite violence, and hiring decisions that appear to be based on patronage and personal loyalty have all done real damage to our democracy.”
Regarding defection of law enforcement and other key institutions, the guide describes how though each institution (pillar) “may appear solid, it is actually not uniform or monolithic” which “provides an opportunity for a movement to take actions and communicate in ways that lead at least some people within that pillar to move towards defection.”
Another justification for defection is the idea that obedience to “unlawful orders” by the Trump administration “could mean facing the risk of accountability soon under the new [Biden] administration.”
Suggested research-based tactics to create social, economic, and political pressure, include: “strikes of all kinds; deliberate work slowdowns; boycotts of all kinds; divestment; refusing to pay certain fees, bills, taxes, or other costs; or refusal to observe certain expected social norms or behaviors.”
The guide also encourages “creativity” on the part of members.
“Throughout history, in response to local circumstances and local needs, people have been remarkably creative at finding ways to engage in civil resistance,” it states. “We know you can be too.”
The guide concludes with dozens of references to other sources of information, including a link to,, a 2000 documentary about the defeat of Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic and the contributions of the student-led Otpor! Movement to his defeat.
It also refers readers to Protect the Results, a broad coalition of over 80 left-wing advocacy groups and grassroots organizations proclaiming that “we cannot ignore the threat that Trump poses to our democracy and a peaceful transition of power.”
The coalition is a joint project of Indivisible and Stand Up America, two left-wing groups founded in response to President Trump’s 2016 election and whose goals are “to organize and resist Trump’s dangerous agenda” and “to defeat Trump and his enablers.”
Seeking to “protect” election results by use of its millions of members, the coalition calls to “take coordinated action” and “prepare for a potential post-election crisis.” Its site also features an online map to find nearby protests, stating, “We know from other countries that have successfully prevented coups that we need millions of people in streets.”
In addition, the site links to Power the Polls, a slew of left-wing activist groups, former and current Democratic politicians, as well as anti-Trump celebrities, athletes, and corporations who have teamed up and recruited over 600,000 “healthy, low-risk and diverse poll workers” to staff in-person voting locations during early voting and on Election Day, assisting voters to check in, understand their ballots, cast their vote, and even open and count mailed ballots, in order “to ensure a safe, fair election.”
A supplementary campaign planning guide, also featured on the site, elicits how to choose from many different kinds of tactics, including: requesting meetings; letter writing actions and phone banks to local officials; holding rallies in various locations pressuring various individuals, companies, organizations, and media; creating various forms of artistic expression; conducting social media actions; and organizing sit-ins, walk-outs, stay-at-homes, sudden work stoppages, limited strikes, and car caravans.
While the focus of left groups and leaders has consistently been on potential chaos resulting from a Trump refusal to concede or a delegitimization of the electoral process on his part, the Democrats themselves have actually been pushing both.
In August, Former first lady Hillary Clinton urged Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden not to concede the election “under any circumstances,” while Biden himself said he is confident that Trump is “going to try to steal this election.”
On Saturday, Biden said that only “chicanery” could prevent him from winning the presidential election, in essence laying the ground for chaos and mass unrest.
With a well-funded coalition of anti-Trump groups prepping the battlefield for post-election anarchy, such statements are hardly trivial.
With elections only a day away and with business owners in major American cities boarding up stores and hiring security, the country is bracing for potential social unrest in the coming weeks.
As progressive groups prepare to mobilize for a “political apocalypse” full of violence and chaos, the dire “forecasts” of the left are set to become self-fulfilling prophecies.
Follow Joshua Klein on Twitter @JoshuaKlein.
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