With only a few days until the US presidential election, many media outlets are talking about the possibility of violence breaking or even civil war.
Riots and Looting Precursor to Civil War
Stores in cities across the US began to board up their storefront windows in preparation for violent riots and looting of the sort the US has already been experiencing since May in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by the police. More than 30 people were killed in the riots with over $2 billion in damages.
A recent poll released by Suffolk University and ‘USA Today‘ reported that three-quarters of respondents were worried about the possibility of violence on election day. In 2016, only 50 percent of voters were concerned about violence.
Walmart, the country’s biggest retailer that sells firearms in about half of its 4700 US locations, announced last week that it was removing all guns and ammunition from its sales floors to head off any potential thefts if its stores are looted amid civil unrest.
Much of downtown Washington has been boarded up over fears of violence after the presidential election on Tuesday. Shop owners – any many Americans we’ve spoken to – fear riots and disorder whatever the outcome. pic.twitter.com/7RcHyyv0YA
— Ben Kentish (@BenKentish) October 31, 2020
The epicenter of any violence is expected to be Washington DC where left-wing activists are planning a mass protest after the polls close on Tuesday. A collection of groups led by Black Lives Matter and Shutdown DC is planning an eight-hour event one block from the White House.
Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser said she was undecided about whether she would use National Guard troops for election-related violence. Some troops are currently activated due to the coronavirus pandemic.
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea ordered trash cans removed from key thoroughfares to prevent them from being used as projectiles and advised restaurants with sidewalk dining to remove the tables and chairs for the same reason.
Philadelphia already has National Guard patrolling the streets in the wake of rioting that was sparked after police shot and killed Walter Wallace Jr.
National Guard troops are already being called in to help at polling stations in Wisconsin, New Jersey, Delaware, Washington state, and Tennessee.
VIDEO: Macy’s in New York City is boarded up Saturday over concerns of possible violence connected to presidential election (CNN) pic.twitter.com/UbevOyuYyN
— WDBJ7 (@WDBJ7) November 1, 2020
Who Will Fire the First Shot: Left or Right?
Washington Post published an article by Marc Fisher about the potential for violence in the wake of the elections, suggesting that right-wing groups and “militias” will resort to violence should Joe Biden win the election.
“The right is not going to give up their power unless they feel threatened,” Olivia Katbi Smith, a co-chair of the Democratic Socialists of America in Portland, told WaPo. “People are opening up to the idea that a riot is the language of the unheard. Property destruction is not violence.”
But rumblings have also been heard from the left. One such group called ShutDown DC, say they have more than 10,000 people ready to descend on Washington DC.
“We are concerned like many people that Trump may try to steal this election,” ShutDown DC spokeswoman Kaela Bamberger told WTOP. “He’s given us a lot of evidence to indicate that he has no problem trying to confuse the results or prematurely declare victory.”
“We’re making plans to be in the streets before the polls even close, ready to adapt and respond to whatever comes our way,” the group wrote. “We’re going to make sure Trump leaves.”
Perhaps the worst possible scenario most likely to spark off violence is one that is already taking shape: indecisive poll results. With over 86 million ballots already cast, the unprecedented number of mail-in ballots may result in the outcome of the elections taking days or even weeks to announce.
The possibility of civil war hit prime-time on Friday night when comedian Bill Maher made an appeal for peace.
“Let’s not have a civil war with the Trumpers,” Maher, a critic of President Trump, said on his HBO show. “We’re no good at war and they’re no good at being civil. Let’s skip the civil war and go right to reconciliation.”
“Thirty-four percent of the voters believe there will be another Civil War within the next five years and I’d like to remind them of one thing: America is a family and the definition of family is people who hate each other without resorting to violence,” he said.
“We have to see each other not as mortal enemies but rather merely as roommates from hell.”
Maher was critical of his own Democratic party for standing aside while violent riots and looting wracked the country.
“So please, whatever happens, Tuesday, let’s find a way to live together,” he said at the end of his monologue. “We have to — because no other country will take us.”
The Answer: Prayer
“But wherever it lands and whoever it hurts, everyone will be sorry,” Rabbi Hollander said. “Of course, everyone should be praying and reciting psalms that there should be no violence.”
“Regarding the elections, I cannot remember any election that seemed so much a matter of make or break for the US,” the rabbi said. “Whichever side wins will determine which path the country takes for quite some time to come, or whether it will continue to be one country. The country could change to such a drastic degree.”
Last week, the Sanhedrin blessed Trump’s campaign.