The most critical decision in American politics on this momentous day may not be who snags a minimum of 270 electoral votes. Instead, the real victor may be the local cities and towns that have prepared for civil unrest the likes of which this country hasn’t seen since the late 1960s and ‘70s. And in a genuine 2020 twist, it may not matter who wins this bloody battle because both Republicans and Democrats have their concerns about rioting, looting, burning, and other varieties of mayhem.
Without a doubt, folks in rural areas have a plan: armed and ready when needed. Coastal cities – Los Angeles, Boston, and the District of Columbia – have procedures in place. Chicago, Minneapolis, and Detroit are well-versed – in any given year or era – in unprecedented violence.
Retail: Haven’t They Been Tortured Enough?
First, COVID-19 shut the doors to damn near every business but Walmart, as early as March, displacing millions of employees and destroying small and independent retailers. State governors and local elected officials appeared to jockey for who could kill off their economy the fastest.
Those fortunate enough to survive the pandemic now face a more violent threat to their precarious status: watching their life’s savings and general inventory – possessions, furnishings, cars, windows, homes, businesses – become targets for angry Americans who feel violence is the answer to electoral angst. The past few days, perhaps weeks, have found retail businesses bracing for Armageddon. Plywood and shatter-proof plexiglass are installed by the truckload, and roads in highly trafficked retail areas are nearly all closed.
From May 26 to June 8, protesters in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death in police custody cost businesses an unprecedented $1 billion in damages, the costliest 13 days in insurance history. As Forbes reported, securing companies in potential protest zones can cost anywhere from $125 in a small-population environment to $31,000 for a one-time save-your-posterior preventative measure for large cities and flagship retail locations. Of course, Portland, OR, has not unboarded any of its shops as of yet, in the longest and most ridiculous takeover in American history by Black Lives Matter and Antifa.
But the folks in Beverly Hills are not taking any chances: Rodeo Drive is going dark. The entire district will be unavailable to foot traffic or Lamborghini parking, in an effort to restrict Molotov cocktail tossing. Stay home is a clear message.
Chicago, the jewel of the Midwest, is arming for confrontation. The Magnificent Mile along Michigan Avenue is ready with salt trucks and snowplows that will quickly remove rowdy folks if necessary. Crowd control is where the Windy City is placing its bet.
But is this an every-man-for-himself scenario? Hardly. Civil unrest on Election Day is just the kind of situation the National Guard Grand Poobahs prepare to tackle at a moment’s notice.
The Indiana National Guard requested volunteers to cover Indianapolis on Election Day. It didn’t take long to fill the roster will plenty of Guardsmen and women to spare. In an already record-breaking year for state activations, election call-ups might eclipse the Guard activations of June 2020, when more than 86,000 soldiers were engaged for domestic missions.
In New Jersey, Guard members will be on hand at polling places – much like a tank in the yard – to deter voter suppression and hanky-panky in handling ballots. But they may not appear to be anything more than civil onlookers and poll workers. In New Jersey, Wisconsin, and Nebraska, Guardsmen and women will not be in uniform.
Brigadier General Robyn Blader, assistant adjutant general of the Wisconsin National Guard, stated:
“Our service members are placed on state active duty, and they show up in civilian clothes to the polling stations, so any member of the community that is coming into a polling station isn’t going to be able to recognize that they are in the Guard.”
Voters who may disrupt the American presidential election should instead vote and go home – at least in Wisconsin. And although Guard officials have repeatedly said they do not anticipate any such behavior, they will be on hand to respond. And every state has its plan in place.
Also, on the syllabus for Guard action and security is cybersecurity. Earlier this month, U.S. intelligence agents set off the alarm bells that Iran and Russia had hacked into voter registration data and were planning their evil brand of interfering in this highly controversial election. As the Swamp begins in earnest to belch and gurgle unfounded rumors of concession delays infinitum, no one needs the confusion of Russian and Iranian Dr. Evils running amok. And any possible intrusion by said entities will likely be curbed easily by the 59 cyber units the Guard has at the ready.
Despite agitators threatening folks anonymously and sharing way too much on social media, risks to the electorate are few and far between – geographically, that is. There are plenty of wide-open spaces populated by millions of peace-loving Americans that won’t see a lick of the mayhem such doom-and-gloom cities as Portland, Kenosha, Minneapolis, and Pittsburgh have lived through of late. But if you are in Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit, and other short-fused and volatile locations, keep your head down and go home after you vote, for God’s sake. If your candidate does not win, don’t five-finger-discount yourself a 52-inch flat-screen.
Read more from Sarah Cowgill.