We are entering into a perilous election that might have dramatic and long-lasting results for our country.
Irresponsible comments about the integrity of the upcoming election are being made by influential spokespeople of both parties. Nancy Pelosi, President Trump and their underlings are making statements about each other’s intent to “steal the election”.
This kind of talk incites extremists of both parties to reject the results of the upcoming election no matter who wins. It shows how far the major parties are willing to go to retain or gain political power.
Something like this happened before.
Undermining the legitimacy of an election sets the stage for a political calamity this country has not seen since the 1850’s. It was the spark that started the Civil War.
The election of 1860 turned into a four-way race. Lincoln won, but only with 40% of the popular vote. His name did not even appear on the ballots of ten states. On December 20, 1860 South Carolina withdrew from the Union, marking the beginning of the Confederate States of America.
Like the election of 1860, the election of 2020 sees both the Republican and Democratic parties in disarray. Both parties are so splintered and uncompromising that neither can choose a candidate that unifies its members.
The choice of Kamala Harris as the Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate may have solidified African American support, (or maybe not), but it did nothing to bring the left wing of the party into the fold. That’s why Joe Biden is now moving to the left. He’s hoping to win over the Sanders/OAC diehards threatening to withhold support from Biden.
This is notable because nominees usually move to the center in order to unify their party.
The Republican party is in the same boat…
While Trump might have a solid, but diminishing base, traditional Republicans have established their own organization, The Lincoln Project, whose publicly stated goal is to prevent the re-election of Donald Trump. This is noteworthy because Republicans have a history of high cohesion and unity, while Democrats face the challenge of unifying many factions.
This kind of radial division within the GOP is unheard of.
Are we facing the prospect of another Civil War?
Not likely. But there is potential for widespread violence that threatens social stability.
If influential Democrats and Republicans continue making statements that undermine faith in our electoral system fringe members of both parties could be pushed to confront one another.
Continuing to question the legitimacy of our electoral system only helps to incite violence in response to outcome. Proud Boys and Antifa have already engaged in isolated attacks on one another using firearms. Following a contested election this violence could escalate in unpredictable ways.
While the prospect of widespread organized violence — another civil war — is slim, an ongoing insurrection, (politically motivated criminal violence), might be possible. Every time a political heavyweight raises the possibility of “stealing the election” the odds of long-term violence increases.