Fear from election violence in the US on the rise
As tension builds up between the two parties, could things escalate further to a civil war?
Amid the upcoming midterm elections scheduled to be held on November 6 in the US, concerns have been raised over the rise of violence in the US, particularly in light of the recent assault on Paul Pelosi, Democrat Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband.
David DePape, the perpetrator in the attack, was charged yesterday with attempted kidnapping on Nancy Pelosi and direct physical assault on Paul Pelosi, charges that may amount to up to 50 years in prison.
The US Department of Justice said DePape intended to tie up the Speaker and break her kneecaps with a hammer if she did not confess to Democratic "lies".
Prior to committing the act, DePape had posted conservative conspiracy theories on social media, some of which include election fraud, Covid vaccines, and climate change, among others.
US officials believe that this was the result of unconstrained disinformation and political vitriol as a precursor for attacks.
As the midterm congressional elections are nearing ahead, instances of electoral threats and intimidation have been reportedly hiking, including in Arizona where armed men are seen patrolling ballot drop boxes.
A grandmother in AZ confronted two armed men in tactical gear sitting on a ballot drop box. This is Donald Trump’s Republican Party. pic.twitter.com/hNEvHq00lJ— Ron Filipkowski 🇺🇦 (@RonFilipkowski) October 25, 2022
The day that the assault on Paul Pelosi occurred, US security agencies issued a warning that domestic violent extremists (DVE) pose "heightened threats" around the November 8 vote.
"Election-related perceptions of fraud and DVE reactions to divisive topics will likely drive sporadic DVE plotting of violence and broader efforts to justify violence in the lead up to and following the 2022 midterm election cycle," the agencies said in a joint intelligence bulletin.
The Republican 'Big Lie'
According to American journalist Johantahn Lemire, Trump first invoked the “big lie” during his 2016 campaign to hold in contempt both former opponents Senator Ted Cruz in the primary and Hillary Clinton in the general election.
When Trump lost to Cruz, he tweeted: "Based on the fraud committed by Senator Ted Cruz during the Iowa Caucus, either a new election should take place or Cruz results nullified."
In the general, half a year later, he said, "I’m afraid the election is going to be rigged. I have to be honest."
Then, at the final presidential debate, he fervently rejected the electorate’s verdict.
“I will look at it at the time,” Trump said. “I will keep you in suspense.”
Many Republicans are still convinced that the 2020 elections were shammed, that Trump should have won the presidency, and that the upcoming elections may be exposed to the risk of being rigged.
Last week, Trump told his supporters in Robstown not to trust the polls, called Pelosi "crazy", and said "Biden and the far left lunatics are waging war on Texas."
"Biden and his left wing handlers are turning America into a police state," he said, adding that "January 6th was caused because of a crooked stolen election."
The Dems in the crosshairs
Although the January Capitol attack may be epitomized as the ultimate example of the bipartisan rift, there occurred in recent months sufficient incidents to give cause for concern.
On June 9, the Justice Department charged an armed man who was arrested near Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s house in Maryland. The man, unhappy about the high court's opposition to abortion rights, was reportedly attempting or threatening to kidnap or murder judge Kavanaugh.
On July 14, an armed man who reportedly threatened to kill Democrat Pramila Jayapal was arrested outside her Seattle home on suspicion of committing a hate crime.
On July 21, Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin was attacked during an upstate campaign by a military veteran who was reportedly suffering from alcoholism and PTSD.
Democrat Congressman Eric Swalwell has likewise been the target of numerous violent threats which he blamed on Trump's supporters.
"MAGA political violence is at peak level in America and it's going to get someone killed," he wrote in August, urging Republican leaders to denounce it.
Since Trump blamed them for his 2020 loss, reports of threats have increased among poll workers, with some states stating they're facing a shortage in poll workers.
For instance in Arizona, where tensions have been heavy over the claim that the 2020 elections were "stolen", armed men have been filmed patrolling near ballot boxes, which according to the Justice Department said in a filing such actions "raise serious concerns of voter intimidation."
Arizona's top election official said last night she has referred six cases of voter intimidation or election worker harassment to law enforcement pic.twitter.com/vp7Ud5AS4U— Sam Levine (@srl) October 25, 2022
On Sunday, the US government's top cybersecurity official Jen Easterly said to CBS there was "a very complex threat environment" helped by "rampant disinformation" and "threats of harassment, intimidation and violence against election officials, polling places and voters."
She added that disinformation "can undermine confidence in election integrity and that can be used to incite violence."