I will not sit here and tell you that no one on the right will do anything on election day. I’m going to start off with that because, if I don’t, someone will pretend that I think our side is as pure as snow or something. No, I know differently since no cause is so noble that it won’t attract fuggheads. Ours is no exception.
The thing is, though, there’s not a whole lot of evidence expect fearmongering that anyone on the right is going to do a damned thing on election day or afterward.
And yet, that fearmongering is doing its job.
Armed men at polling places. Post-election violence. These are not scenes typically associated with American democracy. But that’s exactly what extremism experts are warning could happen on and after Nov. 3. And the anti-government groups these experts are concerned about are likely to be a force long after the election, regardless of outcome.
That gets to a lot of experts’ concerns: the potential for followers of these groups and ideologies to show up to the polls armed, which could intimidate voters.
“I’m worried that at least in some cases, those situations could easily escalate into violence,” said Amy Cooter, a professor at Vanderbilt University who studies militias.
She said armed freelance poll-watchers could have an especially chilling effect in places with a history of suppressing voting by people of color.
And that potential may be heightened by President Donald Trump continually undermining the election’s integrity. In a recent debate Trump said, “I am urging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully because that’s what needs to happen.”
He also called on the xenophobic Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” in lieu of disavowing them, which many took as tacit support from the White House.
Since then, some far-right leaders have explicitly called for members to show up armed to polling places as unsanctioned observers. That includes Stewart Rhodes, leader of the national militia movement Oath Keepers. One gun rights activist in the key battleground of Erie, Pennsylvania, has threatened to bring armed supporters to polling places.
Of course, while they like to place the blame for this on President Trump, all he said was for people to watch the polls carefully. He made no mention of guns.
Regardless, though, let’s note that all of this is about just how scary right-wing groups are, but there’s not a single mention of Antifa, a group known for committing widespread acts of violence if they don’t get their way.
Let’s not forget that four years ago, riots followed then-candidate Trump as he went to various cities. Let’s not forget the absolute meltdown as riots broke out simply because he won the election.
Of course, it’s easy to forget those riots because they pale in comparison to 2020’s riots, but they still happened.
See, while right-leaning groups may show up with guns at right-leaning protests, they never hurt anyone. They don’t intentionally intimidate anyone. If someone feels intimidated simply because a weapon is present, then I advise them to seek psychological help over their hoplophobia. An unreasonable fear of weapons really should be treated by professionals, especially if you’re so paralyzed with fear that you can’t cast a secret ballot. Honestly, you need help.
That’s not on those with the guns, though. The world doesn’t revolve around your psychological hangups.
Yet again, there’s absolutely no mention of concerns regarding leftist violence should Donald Trump win a second term. The thing is, based on experience, this is far more likely than actual violence by guys standing around with guns. In fact, so far, the only cases of a right-leaning person using their firearms is when they’ve been attacked by leftists, so I fail to see the justification for the fear.
Then again, it’s not about actual threats. It’s about making people believe the right is a threat so others will fear them and oppose them. That’s all it is.