An American friend with his finger on the public pulse responded to my query about possible violence after the U.S. Nov. 3 election.
“This is only the second time in our history where majorities do not matter — only intensities,” my American friend replied.
“Even though a majority of voters on both sides say they will accept election results, it is the 20 per cent on each side who won’t who will drive what happens. Add to this that democracy and morality are purely situational.”
The spectre of post-election internecine destruction now seems increasingly possible. Earlier in the week, the FBI arrested members of a militia preparing to abduct the governor of Michigan.
How do Americans themselves assess potential dangers?
In June, Rasmussen polling revealed 40 per cent of Republicans believed a second U.S. civil war was likely within the next five years. Some 28 per cent of Democrats felt similarly, as did 38 per cent of voters not affiliated with either major U.S. political party.
Reuters reported that Americans who are worried about possible violence after the U.S. presidential election are forming community watch groups, while others are working on conflict de-escalation and still others are buying guns. Firearm sales hit a monthly record of 3.9 million in June, according to FBI data.
Societal convulsions are no rarity in America. Recent U.S. history bears witness to scars of race rioting, deep societal divisions over engagement in the Vietnam War, presidencies in crises over Watergate (Richard Nixon) and morality (Bill Clinton), as well as the anguish and turmoil of 9/11.
The year 2020 though, as it roils along toward the Nov. 3 presidential vote, adds a now months-long viral pandemic, as well as uncompromising demands for an end to systemic racism to the equation.
In the political arenas of Washington, D.C., long-standing party enmities have burst into uncontrolled flame. Rage and conflict are daily reminders of a hardline taking of sides and elimination of space for negotiated middle ground.
Mainstream media are frequently castigated as purveyors of fake news, while social media conspiracy theories add kindling to this smouldering bonfire-in-waiting.
Should a possibly contested vote for occupancy of the Oval Office, the White House and rights to Air Force One emerge, it would become internationally problematic. If both Donald Trump and Joe Biden claim victory while the votes, including millions by mail-in ballot, are still being tabulated, who would Canada support? Pressure on Ottawa to pick the winner would be significant and who’s to say Canada’s own divided political parties would agree on supporting either Biden or Trump?
“I grew up as a kid in Europe and then Canada, idolizing the United States,” I wrote in my email to my American friend.
“You were Elvis, Muhammad Ali, Route 66, the Kennedys and Camelot, Clint Eastwood, NASCAR, drag strips, the Yankees and Cowboys, New York City (‘if you can make there …’) and man, you gave the world blue jeans,” I continued.
Then my conclusion.
“I’m worried for my friends, neighbo(u)rs and extended American family.”
Hopefully, my worries are unnecessary.
Roy Green is the host of the Roy Green Show on the Global News Radio network.