We are all ready to be savage in some cause. The difference between a good man and a bad one is the choice of the cause. —William James
11 days until the election. Only 11 days. If this were any other year, we’d be able to look at that date and know that all the nonsense and lies and insanity would quieten down at that point. We don’t know that this year, though. In fact, all indications are that the insanity might actually get worse. I normally wouldn’t take such an alarmist tone except for the fact that, unlike previous years, that’s the tact Homeland Security and law enforcement agencies are taking. Those tend to be fairly level-headed, err-on-the-side-of-caution organizations. Homeland Security is especially good at understating threat levels. So, when they express a heightened level of concern, all my bells and whistles start sounding. Here’s what I’ve seen so far this week:
- Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior federal law enforcement official told NBC News that “local, state and federal authorities and even multi-agency Fusion Centers are on the lookout for signs of trouble.”
- The Washington Post reports: ” the Oath Keepers, a national group of former military and law enforcement officers, has urged its members to “blend in” with voters and do “incognito intelligence gathering and crime spotting” at polling places across the country on Nov. 8.”
- Huffington Post not only reported that intimidation group Vote Protectors, “plans to send volunteers to monitor polling places in nine cities with high minority populations on Election Day,” but also demonstrated how extremely easy it is to create the badges the group plans to use.
And there’s still more.
Is The Threat Real?
I would really like to think that the threat is just a bunch of stupid (VERY stupid) old white men running off at the mouth. Certainly, that’s what we thought of the claims of violence and civil war that preceded the two previous presidential elections. We recognized the racists for the minority they are and ignored them. Both times, they went away, thoroughly beaten. Even the FBI investigated few of the claims.
This year, however, is different. Homeland Security, the FBI, and local police forces are on “heightened” alert. Now, why do you suppose they would do that if they didn’t feel that threats being made were at least partially credible? Looking not only at incidents of violence and intimidation at political rallies, Homeland Security monitors other forms of “chatter” and activities that might indicate a higher level of danger. They don’t like raising threat levels just for fun.
In addition to domestic concerns, the State Department has issued alerts for several embassies around the world specifically for Election Day. Some are closed for 48 hours either side of November 8 while others are closed only for the day itself. Still others are saying their embassy borders will be closed and barricaded on November 8 and will not reopen until safety can be confirmed. The Department of Defense is paying special attention to chatter between terror cells with known US connections and Homeland Security has stated concern that Daesh-connected cells in the US could be planning events to disrupt the election itself.
Oh, and then, there’s still that matter of the Russians hacking the DNC email servers. If they can get into secure servers, who knows that they might try to pull on Election Day? So yeah, I would consider that, at least, a portion of the threat is valid.
How Should We Respond?
We have to trust that law enforcement officials are well-prepared to deal with any significant threat. However, a lot of what concerns the average voter is smaller-scale intimidation and interference. After all, Indianapolis has always taken a rather peaceful approach to solving its problems. We tend to not be a high-profile target. Also, Roger Stone, head of Vote Protectors, has since ordered the badge creator and other disruptive instructions removed from the organization’s website. Again, a lot of angry old white men spewing hot air.
Still, neither Homeland Security nor the FBI is backing down. So, what are our options if we are to be reasonably prepared for whatever might happen not only on November 8 but the days following? We have some ideas:
- Vote. There is absolutely no excuse for not voting. If you can vote early, vote early. If you need to take someone with you for protection, then do so. If you are eligible to vote, this election needs your presence.
- If you feel even slightly intimidated by anyone you see at or near a polling place, say something. Contact the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, at 800/253-3931 or email at email@example.com. Do NOT call local police as they have no direct jurisdiction over polling places.
- Stay away from polling places other than to vote or pick up YOUR children from a school. Once you’ve voted, leave. There’s no reason to hang around and create a crowd.
- Take basic precautions against the threat of local violence. Make sure your car has gas and you have enough food to last a couple of days should you need to stay home.
- Don’t join any demonstrations. Demonstrations turn into riots and then people get hurt. Stay home. Watch Netflix. Eat popcorn. There’s no reason to fuel a fire.
- Consider hosting an election night orgy. I actually saw this recommended on the Late Show With Stephen Colbert last night. Naked people are less likely to become violent and dangerous.
- Just go ahead and move to Canda. Beat the rush.
There are probably a few other things you could do, such as hoard left-over Halloween candy to help keep up your energy. The biggest consideration, I think, is to stay clear of fools and avoid any large groups that might be considered a target. If everyone would do that then we wouldn’t have a problem, would we?
I understand being passionate about the election. I understand being passionate about a candidate. There is no way I will ever understand people threatening violence in a way that has the potential to destroy our democracy. There’s now way to tell which direction things might swing. We just have to be ready for whatever happens.