More Dicks vote GOP, as it claims it will outnumber Dems' election day votes

“Hostility to the opposition party and its candidates has now reached a level where loathing motivates voters more than loyalty.”

As the presidential election nears, the risk of violence appears to be growing. Increasingly heated presidential rhetoric, political polarization, COVID-19-related anxiety, mobilization and counter-mobilization related to Black Lives Matter protests, and other concerns all pose risks for election security and public safety. Law enforcement agenciessocial media companies, and others anxious to preserve the peace are scrambling to identify, and disrupt, possible threats, but their efforts may not be enough. Much depends on a wild card—the actions of the president of the United States—and the prognosis there looks quite grim. If violence does occur, which seems likely, a key challenge could be to stop it from cascading, leading to more lives lost and a greater disruption of traditional peaceful politics.

The stakes are high for this election and the national mood appears dark. For the past several months, President Trump has been fanning the flames of domestic discontent by repeatedly making baseless claims about voter fraud, proclaiming at a September campaign rally in Nevada that, “The Democrats are trying to rig this election because that’s the only way they’re going to win.” Related to these claims, the president has urged his supporters to “Be poll watchers when you go there. Watch all the thieving and stealing and robbing they do.” And it is not just President Trump. His family members, close advisers, far-right media figures, and “an online army of disciples” have been relentlessly pushing the narrative of a “rigged” election, apparently with little understanding, or perhaps little concern, about the ways in which these exhortations could translate into real world-violence.

At the first presidential debate, Trump told the white nationalist group the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by,” a message that many counterterrorism analysts perceived as a dog whistle, or maybe just a regular whistle, to the far-right. The conspiracy movement QAnon, which Trump refused to condemn in his most recent town hall, and the far-right extremist group The Oath Keepers, have both suggested that they might resort to violence if Trump loses the election. Fear that armed vigilantes could be stalking polling stations could very well deter voting.

At the same time, there is a greater level of polarization in American society, breeding the idea that those who vote for the other party are at best misguided fools and at worst, enemies and traitors. One academic study found, “Hostility to the opposition party and its candidates has now reached a level where loathing motivates voters more than loyalty.” Misguided activists like Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager who killed two protesters demonstrating for racial justice on the streets of Kenosha, are lauded as heroes by many on the right as someone who is “bravely defending” his Christian community, according to one fundraising website that raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for his defense.

www.brookings.edu/…

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