Regardless of the outcome, the results of the US election are predicted to spark violence across the country. Experts are worried that America’s raging political tension could boil over into civil unrest.
The November 3 presidential election is just hours away and the mood around the country is tense, to say the least. Amidst a global pandemic, fierce racial tensions, economic recession, and protests exists a serious withering of trust in America’s democratic practices.
In fact, new figures suggest that neither side of the political spectrum will accept the results of the 2020 election if their opposition wins. With the pandemic changing the way that America is polling this year, there are real fears that the election of the 46th President could be enough to trigger a civil crisis unlike anything the country has experienced before.
On the eve of a presidential election deemed “the most important in a lifetime,” tension and uncertainty appear to be tearing the United States at the seams.
According to local authorities, the unrest can be cut with a knife. Businesses in Washington DC have begun bordering up their windows, officials have increased defences around the president’s executive office, and an “anti-climb” wall is currently being fortified outside the White House. There has been a spike in gun sales and talk of civil war and violent, exclusionary sentiment has grown online.
The country is in preparation for utter turmoil.
Boarded up – businesses in Washington, DC in advance of election night. I was asked today does this happen every election? No. And it’s happening in cities across the U.S. This is #Election2020 pic.twitter.com/TobikwIUJ5
— Tara Peterman (@Tapeterman) November 1, 2020
Since the murder of George Floyd back in May, the country has been wrapped in unrest. Cries for racial equality were met with deafening silence from the White House and demonstrations quickly boiled over into violence.
According to Axios, the damage has cost the American government nearly $2 billion (USD), with 14 people sadly losing their lives in incidents of political unrest. Experts believe that this is only the beginning of what could amass following the November 3 election.
“Unfortunately, expecting violence is now part and parcel of the situation. If and when riots occur is always a question,” former veteran Secret Service agent Don Mihalek told ABC News.
I can’t sleep cause I can’t stop worrying. I’m scared that Trump will win through the Electoral College. He’s already torn our country apart and four more years will destroy it. To think of that nasty man winning sickens me. I’m going to try to sleep now but I’m scared to death..
— 🌺Peggy B🌺 (@PegLulu2) November 2, 2020
It is estimated that a significant portion of the American population already have little faith in the November 3 results. A recent poll has found that only 22 percent of citizens think that the upcoming election will represent free and fair democracy. Broken down across the political spectrum, this means that only 50 percent of Trump supporters and 37 percent of Biden supporters will accept the voted results as accurate.
Alongside this, the current US President has refused to commit to a peaceful transition of power if Biden were to win. He’s already put his money where his mouth is too, banding together a team of lawyers in preparation.
This nation is deep in a second Civil War, with race and privilege once again at the heart of it. Trump is now full-time gaslighting. The United States of America ceases to have a meaning if he wins.
— Tony Schwartz (@tonyschwartz) October 30, 2020
To add more fuel to the fire, this election has been laced with anxiety surrounding the nation’s coronavirus-friendly polling system. This year, a record number of Americans chose to vote by mail or pre-poll in the weeks leading up to election day. According to CNBC, mail-in and early voting during the 2020 election has reached 50 percent of the total ballots cast during the 2016 election (69 million). Although astounding, validity and preference checks of these postal ballots means that it could take days, even weeks to reach a definitive result.
With the country already polarised, experts predict that this waiting period could see tensions finally boil over. A poll released by Suffolk University and USA Today found that three-quarters of respondents were worried about the possibility of violence on election day.
“The role that fear has played in this presidential campaign on both sides of the political spectrum means that there are many people in the United States who will feel fundamentally disenfranchised by the result, whichever way it goes,” research associate at the US Studies Centre Elliot Brennan said.
“Both candidates have essentially promised that the United States will fall apart if they are not elected. When you add guns, a pandemic, a recession, a conspiracy theory renaissance and rabid disinformation campaigns to that cocktail, a dangerous domestic situation is given a good dose of volatility.”
BREAKING: First US election day vote has been cast
— The Spectator Index (@spectatorindex) November 3, 2020
Although violence is not a guarantee, the circumstances leading up to tomorrow’s election have certainly created the perfect storm. An ethically and morally polarising administration up for re-election, the nation still fresh from months of (often violent) demonstrations, a global pandemic that has claimed the lives of 231,000 Americans, and citizens as divided as ever.
The 2020 election could be one of the most divisive moments in contemporary politics and its results are as unclear as ever. We can just hope that the change that needs to happen is brought in because this event will go down in history, for better or for worse.
Coverage of the 2020 election will begin from 11 am, November 4 (AEST).
Find out where to watch the results here.