Can this year’s presidential race end peacefully?
In July I published a column in a national publication entitled “If Obama Loses In November, Will America Suffer?” In it, I referenced the many things that were being said and written about the historical and cultural significance of Barack Obama’s candidacy (especially the many extraordinary declarations that Obama himself has made about his own historical significance). I then contemplated what might happen if, despite all the “significance,” Obama were to actually lose the election.
At that time, I was getting e-mail from readers and listeners to my radio shows nationwide, saying that they feared “trouble in the streets” if Obama lost the election. Now, just days away from the election, I can’t help but think that we’re even closer to “trouble in the streets,” regardless of the election’s eventual outcome.
I say ‘eventual outcome,” because I don’t anticipate that we’ll actually know who the president-elect is on election night. I may be wrong, but I expect a close score on this one, and for election night to be clouded with claims of voter fraud, court injunctions, demands for investigations and the like. And while Arizona has been solidly “McCain country” for most of the election cycle, recent polls suggest that he and Obama may now be tied here in the Grand Canyon State. All the more reason I think it’ll be “too close to call” on Tuesday evening.
As for “civil unrest,” many of our fellow Americans are planning for it. A report that appeared in a recent edition of the Washington publication The Hill indicated that law enforcement agencies throughout the country are beefing up their resources, in anticipation that there could be civil unrest on Election Day and the days that follow. The report included quotes from several agency spokesmen and women, many of whom seem to be saying, essentially, “We don’t expect trouble — but the S.W.A.T. team will be on high alert just in case …”
Other law enforcement agents indicated that this year’s presidential election has attracted a level of youthful enthusiasm, comparable to that usually reserved for high-profile sporting events, and noted that even when a team wins a championship, the hometown crowd often trashes its own community in “celebration” (remember Tucson in the aftermath of the University of Arizona’s basketball championship in 1997?). Whether or not you accept this sports team analogy, law enforcement professionals are nonetheless making these observations, and we should be aware of it.
And law enforcement folks aren’t the only ones anticipating election night action. In fact, I think some of our fellow Americans want civil unrest. For example, at the liberal activist Web site MWCNews.net (media with conscience), I found the following rhetoric in a commentary filed last week:
“If your television declares John McCain the president-elect on the evening of November 4th, your television will be lying. You should immediately pick up your pre-packed bags and head straight to the White House in Washington, D.C., which we will surround and shut down until this attempt at a third illegitimate presidency is reversed.”
That’s just one example. There are plenty of other “reports” of such activist plans for civil unrest. And I suspect we’ll be in for a rough night in November. Maybe several of them.
Austin Hill of Gilbert is a host for Arizona Web TV (www.Arizonawebtv.com) and is heard on XM Satellite Radio. He is co-author of “White House Confidential: The Little Book of Weird Presidential History,” and is an editorialist for the national news and commentary site Townhall.com. Contact him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.