After repeated warnings from the President of the United States, Donald Trump, of an alleged fraud in the results of the presidential elections on 3rd November, alarm bells are ringing in the country.
Democratic Party organisers, analysts and media outlets in the US are warning, a few weeks before the polls, that the country is heading towards a chaos fuelled by the White House.
Fears are growing that the delay – perhaps more than a week – in knowing the outcome of postal votes, along with the President’s efforts to sow the seeds of doubt over this type of vote, which he described as fraudulent, will end in a confrontation in which white supremacist militias, among others who follow the national leader, spark civil disturbances. If Trump is victorious on 3rd November after a mass turnout at the polls by members of his party, it could create an illusion that might be shattered if the postal ballot gives victory to the opposing Biden-Harris ticket.
Democratic campaign strategists are increasingly worried by the possibility that Trump’s supporters may try to vote twice, by post and in person, as the President suggested, which in Greenwood’s view would plunge the elections into confusion and uncertainty.
Chris Gagin, a lawyer and advisor to the organisation Republicans for the Rule of Law, cautions that voters in the United States will have to wait days or weeks to find out the result, which could cause chaos due to the delays created by the use of postal votes which could reach 40%.
The worry is growing and justified: the President’s supporters, according to forecasts, will be the ones who most turn out to vote in person whereas a large percentage of Democrats are likely to make use of their right to send their ballot by post, something the White House has been trying for months to label a “fraudulent” exercise.
The US media, regardless of political persuasion, and eminent analysts admit that something terrible could happen in a nation that boasts of being democratic but which shows a high degree of polarisation. The news website Vox notes that the President incites violence and points out that “his public is tens of millions of people. Only a small percentage need to act to severely disrupt politics in this country”. That could turn the Unites States into a theatre of war.
Pro-Trump activism could lead the people of the Unites States to confront each other in street fights, especially when there is a “law and order” candidate, with support in those sectors, who wants to hold on to power or at least carry on for another four years.
Trump, before the incidents of police violence in Kenosha, Wisconsin, refused to condemn the behaviour of those groups because they are part of his support base and could take to the streets to avoid his defeat, since the vast majority of forecasts suggest that he will lose comprehensively in the postal ballot.
Even if the President’s challengers were in the majority, his audience is tens of millions of people. Only a small percentage need to act to severely disrupt politics in this country, in the opinion of J.M. Berger, an expert in violent extremism at the research network VOX-Pol.
According to Vox, the President has a long history of inciting disorder. For example, he told his followers in 2016: “If you see someone getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously, OK? Just knock the hell. I promise you I will pay for the legal fees”.
The apprehension is greater when the national media point out that judging by his tweets and the scheduling of the Republican National Convention, the President believes that the chaos brewing on the streets is good for his prospects of re-election.
“He thinks this is his way out, given that the economic recovery is slow and Covid-19 is interminable”, said Cas Mudde, a lecturer at the University of Georgia who studies the politics of the extreme right.
Trump’s advisor, Kellyanne Conway, admitted to Fox News that this is the logic at play. “The more chaos and anarchy and vandalism and violence reign, the better it is for the very clear choice of who is the best on public safety and law and order”.
The events of the last few days indicate that Trump will not condemn the violence since that would mean admonishing his followers.
Everything becomes more worrying when the national leader tells the press that if the Democrats reach the White House the country will experience “disturbances like they have never seen”, another reflection of his bid to continue in power any way he can. (PL)