Monday, September 28, 2020

Fear and Loathing: The Election's 'Gonna Be Like War'

 At LAT, "‘It’s going to be like war.’ Voters eye 2020 election outcome with fear and loathing":

When Jim Jackson looks ahead to November, he cringes at what he sees: a defeated President Trump refusing to leave the White House and his supporters waging war to keep him there. 
“The militias and the white supremacists ... they’re going to put out the call to arms,” said Jackson, 73, who lives in the conservative-leaning suburbs of Milwaukee and voted Republican for 52 years, but not for Trump. “That’s my worst nightmare.”
Jeanine Davis shares his concern, though for different reasons.

Seated near the Huntington Beach Pier, wearing a red “Keep America Great” hat, the Trump supporter suggested Democrats will do whatever it takes to elect Joe Biden, and riot if they fail. “It’s going to be like war amongst citizens,” said Davis, an executive recruiter in her 50s.

Candidates often say a presidential contest is the most important ever, telling voters to act as though their life depended on it and the country’s future was at stake. Dozens of conversations with voters across the nation — from the West Coast to the Upper Midwest to the East — suggest that, this time, many people really believe it.

Punished by pandemic, buckled by economic hardship and riven by relentless partisanship, America is facing an election unlike any in modern times, a vote shadowed by menace and fringed with paranoia — much of it fed by the occupant of the Oval Office, who incessantly acts to undermine confidence in the result.

“He’s essentially trying to pull off a coup,” said Frank Dudek, a 70-year-old retiree, after casting his ballot at an early vote center in Arlington, Va., just outside the nation’s capital.

Some voters worry about frayed family ties. Others see the whole country unraveling. A significant number consider threats and violence a reasonable way to solve partisan differences.

“You have all these things — the pandemic, the protests, the counterprotests, the Black vs. white, the right against the left,” said Allison Trammell, 60, an Atlanta social worker who supports Biden. “It’s almost like everything is coming up at the same time and there’s no equilibrium. There’s no middle ground.”

What is more, many are acting on their fears, anticipating all manner of chaos, up to and including armed insurrection. They’re flooding gun stores and shooting ranges, stockpiling ammunition and provisioning for a postelection dystopia.

Ashley Avis, a 36-year-old nurse, was recently out with her father and 2-year-old son in Pinellas Park, Fla., buying plywood to board up their windows in case of civil unrest. She also plans to secure an alternative water supply, lest the public works around Tampa Bay are taken out of commission.

“We’re hoping for the best,” said the Trump supporter. “We’re preparing for the worst.”

Across the country, in a working-class neighborhood on Las Vegas’ east side, Michael Martinez said he, too, planned to lay in extra food and water “just in case there’s a disruption in our food delivery systems and whatnot.”

“I wouldn’t put it past some people” if Trump loses, said Martinez, 69, a retired union carpenter and Biden supporter. “That’s the way they’ll try to disrupt the economy, try to disrupt the way we live now.”

Not everyone sees election day as the dawn of a coming apocalypse.

Dave Gorrasi, who owns Blue Hook Aquatics just outside Cincinnati, says he believes the talk of widespread upheaval is a device both sides are using to gin up support.

“I think there is going to be less trouble once the election’s done because then we can go back to normalcy,” said the 41-year-old political independent, who is still undecided...

Still more.