It may be difficult to imagine something as distant as electoral violence in a country like the United States. After all, U.S. citizens pride themselves as the bearers and upholders of one of the greatest democracies of the world, where people have the power to freely choose their government representatives. The reality, however, is far more complicated.
It was certainly far more complicated when black U.S. citizens were beaten by police as they asserted their right to vote, or when suffragettes were taken away to sanitariums for trying to bring the vote to women. U.S. society, unfortunately, has a pattern of attempting to disenfranchise voters through violence.
When people like Donald Trump try to suggest that the presidential vote may be rigged in some way, even though voter fraud is actually an extreme rarity, it opens up floodgates and questions the notion of government legitimacy. His suggestions are not about the election itself—they are about the aftermath. If he loses, there will be some kind of pushback. If he loses, his supporters must rally themselves against a false system. If he loses, he will check the results to make sure it was a fair loss, as if he has some kind of authority to declare it otherwise. His statements are not just brash, they are stupidly terrifying.
What should worry citizens most are his urges to his supporters to watch the polls in order to make sure there are not any unusual occurrences on Election Day. This paranoid request sets a bleak precedent. The United States already has issues with potential voters being unable to register due to criminal records or predatory legislation designed to reduce the base of another party.
The very last thing this country needs is self-appointed gatekeepers that may very well act in the name of an equally self-appointed ideology. This is not about Election Day anymore, this is about every Election Day to come.
If Trump loses, hopefully he will stuff himself back into the hole in the ground out of which he crawled. The hideous elements of society he has drawn support from, however, will not be so willing to do the same.
There are hundreds of known conservative "militias" in the United States and the very idea of which implies a necessary violence against a problematic state. It is a mirror image problem, in which people see someone like themselves and feel proud of who they are.
Trump, however, is not a role model of civility, responsibility or political savvy. He is a racist bully whose attitudes toward women are cringe-worthy. Unfortunately, he is regarded as a hero by those who support his ideologies.
If his rallies are any indication—rally is a loose term considering the fact that they turn into something more akin to a hate mob—then a Trump-led nation is one where any form of disagreement is a liability.
The viral videos of his supporters suggesting that they kill protesters, the reporters who talk about feeling unsafe during his events and Trump's open calls into the crowd over someone he does not agree with are not anomalies. It is a powder keg whose tail has been lit for a very long time. The question now is whether U.S. society can douse that flame.
It is an unsteady picture to imagine, one of people dying at the polls. It seems so fundamental to feel safe when one's choice in an election is made, but the environment that was created this election season is not reassuring.
In states like New York or California, where Trump's support is a lot weaker and he is seen as a half-joke, half-moral nightmare, this may be less of an issue. In states like Florida or Texas, whose outcomes this year are as unpredictable as ever, that image becomes much clearer.
In a traditionally nationalistic way, there is a need to "pull ourselves by our bootstraps" to protect fellow citizens all across the political spectrum. Disagreements are normal and healthy, but outright threats of violence due to narrow-mindedness are not.
Threats in this election are for those who have little better to do than moan about other people's lives getting better. Donald Trump is one of those people with little better to do, seeing as he still cannot come up with a clear plan of action for the nation. It suggests that he does not have any kind of foresight.
The game is not rigged and the notion of government legitimacy should not be put into question. It is, however, horribly flawed, but the election is not being manipulated by mysterious outside forces. It most certainly is not a game that needs bloodshed added to it by new players.