There is very little time left before the midterm elections in the United States, the results of which will determine the course of American politics in the coming years. Republican control of either house of Congress is effectively capable of undermining President Biden’s agenda. And with the upcoming November 8 vote, not only the hopes of Americans are connected, but also many fears and phobias.
“Anger, betrayal and fear – America prepares for the midterm elections,” is the title of an analytical article by Mark Stone, Sky News USA correspondent.
Recent polls show that a growing number of Americans find political violence acceptable, the journalist notes. Just the other day, the husband of the third most important politician in the country, Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, was attacked in their home. Police say she was the target of the attack.
“I think this is a civil war,” Zach Scherer, the owner of a pickup truck with the Trump logo on the back, told Mark Stone. “I think this is the only thing that will unite America after this election if we lose.”
“Civil War? When I moved to America a year ago, I remember people talking about this fear, writes a British journalist. “I remember I thought they were crazy. How could it be believed that “the world’s greatest democracy,” as it is sometimes fondly called, was heading towards civil war? I have talked about numerous failed or failed states over the years. It seems pointless to suggest that the United States of America could be among them. Well, a year later my opinion has changed and I am deeply concerned.”
According to Mark Stone, “the fault lines are alarmingly deep” in the US: “It would be wrong to think that America can just go through this watershed in its history.”
On the same day that Nancy Pelosi’s husband was attacked, US authorities warned that threats of violence against politicians across the country had skyrocketed.
“The nation is very divided, and there is one reason for this excitement: about a third of the voting age people in this country believe that the 2020 election was stolen,” states Mark Stone. They think Donald Trump won. Doubt is sown in the fabric of American society If you’ve spent the last two years thinking this is a fringe point of view promoted by a former president; a scam that can now be discarded as background noise, think again. Doubt has been sown into the fabric of American society.”
People reject the institutions upon which American democracy was built and distrust the electoral process.
“American society is locked in echo chambers,” Mark Stone worries. “They consume highly biased cable news, believe the rubbish on social media, and ignore the facts. Conspiracy theories spread faster than facts.”
As America heads to the polls to determine the country’s direction during this interim period, the anger and division cannot be overestimated, the Sky News journalist notes, and concludes: “There is so much going on; so many questions and there is absolutely no trust in the other side. Anger and a sense of betrayal, but I also felt fear. There is a real sense that Americans on all sides don’t know what’s coming next and how they’ll react to it.”
And if the opinion of a journalist is just an opinion, then it makes sense to listen to the data of sociologists. According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released in late October, two in five American voters say they are concerned about threats of violence or intimidation at the polls during the country’s midterm elections.
So far, there have been no reports of violence at any early voting centers or ballot boxes ahead of the Nov. 8 election, when Republicans have the upper hand in gaining control of the US House of Representatives and possibly the Senate.
But officials in Arizona, a key battlefield, have already asked the federal government to investigate a case of possible voter intimidation after people voting for the ballots were filmed and followed, Reuters reported. The official complaint noted that self-styled monitors called voters “mules,” citing a conspiracy theory popularized by supporters of former President Donald Trump’s claim that his 2020 defeat was the result of widespread fraud.
The Reuters/Ipsos poll also showed that two-thirds of registered voters fear that extremists will carry out post-election violence if they are dissatisfied with the results of the vote.
The findings illustrate what some observers say is growing evidence of a lack of trust in the country’s democratic institutions after decades of deepening partisanship.
Cathy Bukvar, a former senior Pennsylvania Electoral Commissioner, said fears of voter intimidation and violence are contrary to American tradition. “Our country is based on democracy. We should be excited about Election Day,” says Bukvar, a member of the bipartisan Committee for Safe and Secure Elections.
Distrust between America’s two political camps has grown over the past half century. Tellingly, a growing number of parents say they would be unhappy if their child married someone from a different political party.
Among registered voters polled by Reuters/Ipsos, 43% were concerned about threats of violence or intimidation of voters during in-person voting. Fear was more pronounced among Democratic voters, 51% of whom said they were concerned about the violence, although a significant proportion of Republicans – 38% – harbor the same fears.
Many Americans are unsure about the correct vote count. About a fifth of voters (including one in ten Democrats and one in four Republicans) said they were not sure their ballots would be accurately counted.
About two-thirds of registered voters – 67% – said they were concerned that extremists would carry out acts of violence after the election, including about three in four registered Democrats and three in five registered Republicans.
According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, about two-thirds of Republicans and one-third of Democrats see voter fraud as a widespread problem. Two-thirds of Republicans believe the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Trump.
While Trump’s 2020 election fraud allegations have been thrown out by dozens of US courts, government agencies and several members of his administration, they have nonetheless found wide acceptance in the US, fueling a cottage industry of poll monitoring tools.
One software application, heavily promoted by far-right media outlets, allows users to view a map of registered polling station problems and counting violations. Conservative activists set up a hotline to collect such messages.