Stop the violence

We hear shouts of “stop the steal” everywhere, based on the proven lie that the 2020 election was stolen from President Trump. At public marches, on the Reawaken America Tour, in videos circulated widely, in the daily news, people push the lie.

Violence accompanies the lies. From the January 6 attack on the Capitol to this week’s violent attack on Mark Pelosi, husband of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. He was attacked at home with a hammer by a man shouting, “Where’s Nancy?” – echoing the sing-sing horror chants in the Capitol.

Too many politicians and news sources on the Right ignore what happened, as Donald Trump did in the first day, at least. Or they downplay it because the attacker had a personal history of delusion and violence. There are many more like him, though, and many sane, rational men (mostly men) ready to take up arms against other Americans for the cause, just as they did on January 6.

Federal agencies have issued a renewed warning that domestic violent extremists pose a heightened threat to midterm elections.

We must challenge this movement that leads not only to extremism, but to violence. Midterm elections are already facing threats of violence, with armed men dressed military-style watching voters drop their ballots at designated sites in Arizona:

Two people armed with handguns and wearing tactical military gear, balaclavas masking their face and the license plates on their cars covered, stood watch over a ballot drop box during early voting last week in Mesa, Arizona.

Our national story says that we have free and fair elections in the United States. That has not always been true, of course. Our history includes threatening, even violent, poll watchers in the South who kept Black people from voting. It also includes intimidating poll watchers, threatening violence, in many cities where political “bosses” made sure people voted the way they were expected to. Do we really want our country to return to that?

More often than not, though, the U.S. has been a model for free and fair elections, without violence. That has certainly been my experience, and it continues to be where I live in Brighton, NY. Increasingly, that is not the case everywhere.

One in six election workers say that they have personally received threats …. [and] about 20% of election workers say they may not work in the next presidential election. Among those, about a third cited too many political leaders attacking the voting system, even though they know it is fair.

When will the intimidation and violence stop? Only when enough of us stand up, speak up, and challenge the lies and public threats against people who are just doing their job. When violent attacks on innocent people happen, and armed men are“watching” the polls, and public officials and “personalities” refuse to condemn it – in today’s America, we must stand up, speak out, and challenge it. STOP THE VIOLENCE!