With a week to go until the presidential vote, there’s a couple of fears that have occasionally surfaced: either that there will be some sort of unrest, or even violence, on election day or after, in the event of a #Donald Trump defeat, or that supporters of the candidate will show up at polling places in heavily Democratic voting areas, in order to combat alleged “voter fraud.”
Trump himself has flogged the first scenario, urging his supporters in an October 1st speech to pay a visit to “certain areas” to monitor the polls, “because of you know what I'm talking about." Statements like this from the Republican nominee have been interpreted at best as a way to cast doubt on the legitimacy of a Trump defeat, and at worst as a not-so-subtle racist dog whistle, as generations of bigots have said “certain areas” when they meant “places where black people live.”.
The fear became a bit more explicit this week, with a Politico article stating that a group of neo-Nazis, as well as factions of the Ku Klux Klan and other white racist groups, were planning a "show of force" on election day, with one neo-Nazi leader sharing a plan to “hand out liquor and marijuana” in “ghetto” areas of Philadelphia in order to keep African-American voters at home.
Horrified as I’ve been by the disgusting mainstreaming of open white nationalism and bigotry in conjunction with Trump’s campaign this year, I’m not especially concerned that either scenario will come to pass, for a simple reason: they don’t have the guts.
There’s a simple reason I don’t expect Trump supporters to flock, on Election Day, to “certain areas”: because the base of Trump support is people who live in abject fear, every single day of their lives, of “certain areas.” Those who support Trump in, say, rural Pennsylvania, may be willing to complain all day long about “those people” in Philadelphia who supposedly steal all the resources and provide all the Democratic votes.
They may even take a swing at them at a Trump rally. But one thing they’re absolutely unwilling to do is drive to North or West Philadelphia.
As for the white nationalist threat of Election Day shenanigans, one positive note from this campaign is that neo-Nazis have been exposed as ineffectual, impotent losers, who show little-to-no real world influence outside of Twitter -- that is, until they’re inevitably, justly banned. Good luck driving to North Philly in your white hood and offering the residents weed. Let me know how that goes.
As for the Klan, its been a while -- many decades, in fact -- since they were last able to summon an army. At most Klan rallies, the Klansmen are outnumbered by counter-demonstrators.
There are two lessons here: don't be afraid of threats from people who can't back them up, and stop inflating the importance and status of white nationalists. #CertainAreas