If you think about America and want to get scared, read a long story from the November issue of the monthly magazine “The Atlantic”. It has been online since September 30 and is called “Civil War Is Here, Right Now”.
This is a quote from Stewart Rhodes, who founded a militant group called “Oath Keepers” in 2009. It now has thousands of members, mostly from the US military and security apparatus.
The “oath keepers” are the ones who want to take their oath to defend the homeland from external and internal enemies. They believe that illegal migrants and Muslims are weakening the nation.
To them, Black Lives Matter activists are “Marxists”. The anti-racist protests in many cities, the arming of leftist groups, the demands for less money for the police, the anti-corona measures such as “lockdowns” or the wearing of masks – all point to an impending civil war. Because they want to win him, the ‘Oath Keepers’ have armed themselves heavily.
“Fraud and manipulation”
US President Donald Trump leaves open whether he would accept an electoral defeat and guarantee a peaceful transfer of power. He says sentences like “We have to wait and see what happens”. Or he claims that he wants to respect a “free and fair” election, but he does not say what a “free and fair” election is. Instead, he constantly feels “fraud and manipulation”. The Democrats could only win the election by stealing votes.
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Groups like the ‘oath keepers’ listen attentively to such sentences. You are pro Trump, his assumptions confirm your fears. That is why they are ready on election night. What for? It’s not very clear. But since August, the FBI has been warning of escalations ahead of November 3.
Vice President Mike Pence could have made things clear in the debate with Kamala Harris. But he, too, dodged the question of accepting a democratic election result. Trump would certainly be reelected, he said, after all, the president is at the head of a major movement.
Trump and Pence’s ambiguity on this issue is the biggest scandal of the election campaign, which isn’t exactly bad at scandals. The painstakingly worded call for militant groups to take action in the event of defeat is negligent, dangerous and a bankruptcy declaration for American democracy. This cannot be watered down by referring to a potential flirtatiousness of Trump. Does he just want to provoke? Does he just want to radiate the assurance of victory? Maybe, but only he knows. Not taking the President of the United States seriously on this issue is not an option for a democratic public.
If it is intentionally left open as to whether elections can lead to political change, the very essence of democracy, its raison d’être, its identity is jeopardized. Trump often successfully deduces this with his theatrical self-presentations – currently in connection with his corona disease.
Everything is debatable: climate change, the economy, the Supreme Court, anti-corona politics. But any dispute is meaningless when the vote of the voters, whose right and duty it is to position themselves in the politics of their country, is ignored or ridiculed as irrelevant.
Pence refuses to accept democracy
The debate over the candidates for the vice-presidency deserves only one headline: Pence refuses to accept democracy. But of course, norms have shifted so massively during Trump’s reign that there is hardly any distinction between minor and major scandals. “Trump and Pence have done that many times,” they say.
That’s true. Four years ago, in the last TV duel with Hillary Clinton, Trump had also refused to acknowledge the election results in the event of defeat. When asked by the moderator, the Republican candidate replied, “I’ll see this.”
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Trump and pennies fertilize the seeds of suspicion. They promote conspiracy myths. And they increase the aggressiveness of their supporters in dealing with political rivals.
However, it would be wrong to predict a nationwide civil war in just under four weeks if Trump is defeated. The subversive potential of extremist groups such as “Proud Boys” or “Oath Keepers” is limited. The National Guard and military, on the other hand, are firmly entrenched in democracy and, if necessary, would escort a stubborn president out of the White House against his will.
Those who vote for Trump want power and rebel against the spirit of the times: growing religious disdain, globalization, immigration, cultural generosity. It is probably a last, desperate rebellion. It will be all the more important that defeat is considered neither shame nor humiliation. So that the gap that runs through the country does not get any deeper.