On Oct. 14, the FBI released a criminal complaint detailing the arrest of three militia members plotting to bomb a local mosque frequented by Somali immigrants in Garden City, Kansas. The three had already made one bomb and had enough material—some on ice in a bathtub—to make bombs to put in four containers they planned to set up around the mosque. After they detonated the bombs, they planned to go around town shooting Muslims and non-Muslims who support immigrants, hanging signs on the bodies declaring them supporters of illegal immigrants and in violation of the Constitution.
These guys had bombs. They had weapons. They had a politically-motivated plan. They were connected to likeminded state and national armed militia groups, of which there are hundreds.
And they were going to carry out the attack Nov. 9, the day after the election.
With a deep, dull sadness, I have to say it seems highly likely we’ll see violence on Election Day in the United States of America. The prevailing rhetoric suggests much more violence may follow, no matter who wins. We face the very real possibility of the only non-peaceful transfer of power in U.S. history. I truly don’t mean to be sensational. It’s unbelievably depressing. But it’s the lay of the land.
There are, of course, modern precedents for crimes related to Presidential elections. In 2008 some vans from an Obama office in Florida were spray-painted with racial slurs. And we all remember the great lawn sign war of 2012.
But let’s take a quick inventory of recent events and see if you agree: We’re not in Kansas anymore. Or maybe we are.
Recently, Donald J. Trump, the Republican nominee for President of the United States of America, insinuated on Twitter no less than 12 times—three weeks before Election Day and actual vote counting—that the election was rigged against him. He’s invoked a sweeping conspiracy involving the media, the Dept. of State, the Dept. of Justice, something he calls “global financial powers,” and the Clinton campaign. To directly quote the—I can’t emphasize this enough—the Republican nominee for President of the United States of America, Hillary Clinton has been “meeting in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers, her special interest friends, and her donors.”
Those 12 Trump tweets generated 200,000 retweets in ~24 hours.
Even more recently, Trump retweeted (i.e., tweeted), “41 percent of American voters believe the election could be ‘stolen’ from DonaldTrump due to widespread voter fraud. – Politico.”
Here’s what that Politico article actually concluded: “Trump’s repeated warnings about a ‘rigged’ election are having an effect… The public sentiment is beginning to reflect Trump’s campaign message.”
Trump also claimed, citing a widely criticized study, that “illegal immigrants are voting all over the country.” See Kansas, above.
And the Republican nominee for President of the United States of America rounded out the morning with, “If we let Crooked run the govt, history will remember 2017 as the year America lost its independence.”
Trump’s priming the pump. The election, obviously, hasn’t even happened. This is unheard of in modern American politics, and the consequences may be equally so.
So: What to do about all this massive voter fraud contradicted by reams of evidence from reputable non-partisan institutions? Patriots, take up your… er, peaceful democratic responsibility!
First, poll monitoring is nothing new. In 2012 Republicans reportedly set up 1,400 poll watchers in Philadelphia, and Democrats nearly three times that number (largely in response to intimidating flyers Republican operatives posted in largely black neighborhoods). But this year is quite different.
To quote the Republican nominee for President of the United States of America at an August rally in Pennsylvania, “We’re going to watch Pennsylvania—go down to certain areas and watch and study…. The only way we can lose, in my opinion—and I really mean this, Pennsylvania—is if cheating goes on.” Ten days later, at a rally in Ohio, Trump clarified what he meant for the benefit of his supporters: “You’ve got to get everybody to go out and watch, and go out and vote. And when [I] say ‘watch,’ you know what I’m talking about, right?”
Oh, how we do. Ohio is an open carry state. Pennsylvania is a legally de facto open carry state.
Speaking of the Second Amendment
In early August, the Republican nominee for the United States of America insinuated that violence is the only thing that could stop Hillary Clinton once elected: “If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people — maybe there is, I don’t know.”
The Trump campaign spun this as Trump energizing his base to go out and vote. I’d like to point out that Clinton could only “pick her judges” once she’s elected. Well, maybe Trump meant the Second Amendment people could “do something” about her judge selection in a political way when the time comes. But people don’t elect federal judges. So maybe he meant they could lobby Congress, which the NRA already does famously well. (Lobbying also being a political practice Trump has often deplored.)
But then, at a Miami rally Sept. 16, Trump said this:
“I think that [Clinton’s] bodyguards should drop all weapons, they should disarm, right?... Take their – let’s see what happens to her. Take their guns away, OK? It’ll be very dangerous.”
But he was just joking. And as he says, it’s just words, right?
A Second Amendment person tells CNN reporter he’s willing to do that… you know, thing Trump said he could do
At a rally a few days ago, a Trump supporter on national TV said TV that “Hillary needs to be taken out… if she gets into government I’ll do everything in my power to take her out of power, which if I have to be a patriot I will.”
Reporter: “That sounds like a threat.”
Supporter: “What do you think a patriot is?”
Politicians are Second Amendment people, too
This summer Al Baldasaro, a policy adviser to Trump and New Hampshire state representative, said, “Hillary Clinton should be put in the firing line and shot for treason,” referring to the Benghazi attack.
Not long after, the Boston Globe gave Baldasaro another shot at this statement. He said—switching the capital charges from Benghazi to the emails—“As far as I’m concerned, that’s information for the enemy. In the military, shot, firing squad. So I stand by what I said.”
Then, in August, when asked again to explain himself, he said, “The liberal media took what I said and went against the law and the Constitution and ran with it, and they said that I wanted her assassinated, which I never did. I said I spoke as a veteran, and she should be shot in a firing squad for treason.”
Baldasaro advises Trump on veterans’ policy.
Second Amendment people are in the tradition of Ghandi
A few days ago, two young protesters sat for nearly 12 hours with their open carry guns outside a Virginia Democratic congressional campaign office. Said one, “I’m just trying to provide a voice for someone who might be closet supporters of Trump. Other people that are a little worried to speak out because of possible persecution.”
He added, “We’re not a threat to anybody, the only threat is ignorance, and ignorance will breed fear.”
So, to be fair
Last week the Republican Party County Headquarters in Orange County, NC, was firebombed. No one was hurt, but the attackers spray-painted a nearby building with a swastika and the threat, “Nazi Republicans go home.” This frightening attack (with its chilling verbiage) took place in the middle of the night, so we can assume no physical harm was intended. The threat, however, is not so subtle. It’s detestable — well beyond anything we’ve seen in modern presidential politics — and has sown violence even more deeply into the democratic process. Bottom line: Don’t pat yourselves on the back, liberals. There’s plenty of potential for serious violence from both sides.
Take this seriously
Government law enforcement agencies are reportedly gearing up for what amounts to a national threat on Election Day and over the following weeks. There’s no citation to link to here, so feel free to write me off. I probably would. But… Yeah… Trust me?
Russia sure takes it seriously
The U.S. government has accused Russia of hacking Democratic National Convention computer systems this summer. Russian hackers also accessed some of Clinton’s deleted State Department emails and the email accounts of Clinton campaign leadership. Russia has also tampered with election systems in two states (that we know of), Arizona and Illinois.
Trump has championed these hacks and even requested that Russia commit further espionage against the United States on American soil.
Putin probably doesn’t want the unpredictable and unstable Trump to win the election and control the U.S. nuclear apparatus. But Putin probably would want to disrupt the elections if he could, aggravating and dividing an already aggrieved and divided U.S. population at a rare time when the country seems unstable and a major party candidate has predetermined the election will be rigged. Imagine the gift of a de-legitimized U.S. government. We’re wrapping it up.
This kind of alarm, though perhaps new to us, isn’t unprecedented. In the election of 1800, a newspaper declared that if Thomas Jefferson beat John Adams, “Murder, robbery, rape, adultery, and incest will be openly taught and practiced, the air will be rent with the cries of the distressed, the soil will be soaked with blood, and the nation black with crimes.”
Take heart. We know how that one turned out — I mean, adultery? Get real.