Voting has a violent history in the U.S. There’s a reason we’re talking about it so openly now.

  • Post author:
  • Reading time:3 mins read
State conservation agents, wielding nightsticks, watch as civil rights marchers arrive at the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery, Ala., in 1965.

If you read the news these days, there’s a good chance you’ll see that sociologists believe the United States is on the verge of sustained political violence, that our democracy is on a knife’s edge, that voters openly fear a race war and that Facebook is adopting its tools for “at-risk” countries to head off post-election chaos in the U.S.

Political violence, most especially to prevent Black people and other minorities from voting and attaining power, has been a feature of American elections since our country’s founding. In the 20th century, white supremacists kindled ethnic resentment and sought to delegitimize a pluralistic democracy. As MSNBC’s Chris Hayes has pointed out, referring to the post-World War II Jim Crow South, stationing armed men at polling places was a “key feature of that movement.”

Violent domestic extremism has become a leading threat in the country, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Far-right groups have more or less been granted permission by President Donald Trump to incorporate violent imagery and threats in service of their political agendas.

When Trump calls out Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for refusing to open up her state during a pandemic, his audience knows that they can start to shout “lock her up,” which, even in the most benign interpretation, means the arrest and detention of a governor for committing no crimes (which, as we know, allegedly really almost happened). In its most extreme interpretation, “lock her up” is an incitement of violence.

There’s a new conversation that’s been sparked in 2020 about violence — racial violence, and also election violence. Reportedly 3 in 4 voters expect this Election Day to be violent. A key difference is that this year, more white people fear being violently deterred from exercising their constitutional right to vote, and for most white people, they’re experiencing this type of fear for the first time. (Complete piece at MSNBC

In the nation’s capital, police have cancelled time off and stocked up on riot supplies in case of post-election unrest. In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott has put the National Guard on standby.

President Donald Trump has resisted saying he would give up power peacefully, insisting repeatedly that he can only lose if Democrats cheat.

Fear is widespread, as Americans eye each other with suspicion.Three out of four voters are concerned about violence on Election Day or afterward, according to a USA Today/Suffolk University poll. Only a tiny fraction of Americans are prepared to take to the streets if they feel the election was stolen.

Dallas Morning News Headline:

Americans, fearing post-election violence, are eyeing each other with suspicion….

Hardly anyone, Trump and Biden backers alike, would lash out even if they feel the election was stolen, but most think the other side won’t show the same restraint.

Source: the Dallas Morning News