What to do if there's a coup, and how to look fab doing it

By now, you’ve likely heard that President Donald Trump has refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power following the election. It would be foolhardy not to take him at his word, so it is time to prepare for a coup. Never fear, the official Rainbow Rant Fashion Guide for Stopping Fascism is here. I’ve got everything you need to know to stop an unelected regime from seizing power, and hot tips for looking good while doing it. 

Before the election

Vote: A decisive victory will be harder to contest, so voting is the best way to prevent a coup. If that isn’t enough for you, go the extra mile by dragging your loved ones along with you or becoming a poll worker.

Style Icon: James Baldwin, who risked his life to support voter registration efforts in Selma, Alabama. Steal his timeless style with a scrunched cravat, oversized collars and an incisive analysis of the importance and the limitations of the ballot for Black people.  

Pre-game with your friends: If there is a coup, we will need to act quickly. Before the election, get together a small group of people who you trust and commit to taking action. Make a plan to hit the streets together, or support the protests from at-home by posting on social media and providing jail support. All protest roles will be crucial. 

Hot accessory: Signal, for encrypted messaging and calling. 

Know that coups have been stopped by regular folks before: All around the world, coup attempts have been foiled by unarmed movements. In fact, over half of all coup attempts have failed. Coups require coordination across many institutions, which makes them incredibly difficult to pull off. I find it hard to believe that a man who can’t set up Two-Factor Authentication for his Twitter account will be especially good at this. We should feel confident that we can rise to the occasion. 

If normal people refuse to follow the orders of an unelected government, that government will crumble — and fast. Bolivians defeated a 1978 coup in 16 days. In the Soviet Union in 1991, it only took three days. We’ll need to act quickly, but take comfort that we might win just as fast. 

What to wear: A jaunty beret, in honor of the French people who stopped a coup in 1961 in just four days.

On Tuesday, Nov. 3

Demand all the votes are counted, no matter how long it takes: Say goodbye to election night and hello to days or weeks of ballot counting. Between the unprecedented number of mail-in ballots and the requirements of the Electoral College, this election is ripe for confusion (not to mention the recent Supreme Court decision regarding Wisconsin absentee ballots, which could forewarn of damning nationwide consequences in any contested election scenario). Trump has been sowing seeds of doubt over the validity of mail-in ballots for years, despite the fact that voter fraud is rare. He may contest ballots in swing states, or pressure election officials to stop counting. I won’t try to predict what will happen, but I am certain of one thing. Our demand should be simple: Count all the votes and honor the result. 

Best cocktail for watching the returns: Your favorite sipping whiskey, because we could be here for a while. 

If there is a coup

Read him for filth and call it a coup: If the government stops counting votes or allows the election loser to take power, that’s a coup, and we should call it what it is. Using the language of a coup will help our friends and neighbors understand exactly what is happening and everything that is at stake.

Queer icons to channel: Loud-mouth Larry Kramer, truth-teller Sylvia Rivera and the queen of shade Elektra Wintour. 

Demand democracy: The success of a coup is dependent on the unelected regime claiming and maintaining legitimacy. Stopping a coup will require winning over our friends and neighbors. We will need to convince them that the unelected regime is acting counter to our democratic norms. Most successful movements against coups have accomplished that by appealing to common values, like fairness and transparency. 

To win, we will need to make our rallies feel like Dolly Parton concerts (welcoming places where an unlikely group of people come together). If that idea doesn’t seem radical enough for you, think about this: What kind of dramatic changes might be possible if the entire American public sees that a people’s movement can stop a coup? 

Winning a battle for democracy will go down in American history and could change the way our country thinks about social movements. That’s a worthy goal —  and the cost of losing is too high to choose a less effective strategy.

Inspirational quote: “You have to give them hope.” –Harvey Milk

Get into the streets: If a coup happens, don’t freeze. Take a deep breath, call your friends and meet us in the streets. Through marches, demonstrations at local boards of election, rolling strikes and creative tactics, we can prevent the coup from seizing power. 

Hot trend: Standing on top of a parade float waving a giant flag, like Ricky Martin during the 2019 pro-democracy protests that ousted Puerto Rican governor Ricky Rosselló.

On Nov. 3, American voters will elect a president. On Nov. 4, we may have to show Donald Trump that the people are still in charge. See you fashion-forward anti-fascists at the demonstration.