This Scary Statistic Predicts Growing US Political Violence — Whatever Happens On Election Day

Sean Gorham

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Apologies for the subject line — it is a BuzzFeed article, after all. I don't normally link to or read articles there, but I'm making an exception this time. I believe there's some really interesting information in this article, and everybody should give it a read. The scientists interviewed for this article concluded that America is as politically unstable as it was right before the American Civil War, and any election outcome will result in protests or violence.

(Oh, standard warning for all these articles: Do not read the comments. They're cesspools.)

The most dangerous element in the mix, argue [Peter Turchin, an evolutionary anthropologist at the University of Connecticut] and George Mason University sociologist Jack Goldstone, is the corrosive effect of inequality on society. They believe they have a model that explains how inequality escalates and leads to political instability: Worsened by elites who monopolize economic gains, narrow the path to social mobility, and resist taxation, inequality ends up undermining state institutions while fomenting distrust and resentment.

An article written by the two scientists for NOEMA goes into greater detail and is also worth a read. I don't share their optimism regarding the possibility of pulling back from the brink, though. I think we're already past that point and, in fact, are about to go careening over the cliff at 200 miles per hour, chanting "MAGA MAGA MAGA" all the way to the bottom.
In short, given the accumulated grievances, anger and distrust fanned for the last two decades, almost any election scenario this fall is likely to lead to popular protests on a scale we have not seen this century. Trump’s claims of millions of fraudulent mail-in ballots and a rigged, unfair election may be playing with fire; but our model shows there is plenty of dangerous tinder piled up, and any spark could generate an inferno.

Then there's the Boston Globe article about a bipartisan group role-playing various post-election scenarios. Not essential reading, but interesting nonetheless — and grim.
“All of our scenarios ended in both street-level violence and political impasse,” said Rosa Brooks, a Georgetown law professor and former Defense Department official who co-organized the group known as the Transition Integrity Project. She described what they found in bleak terms: “The law is essentially ... it’s almost helpless against a president who’s willing to ignore it.”

If you don't want to read the linked articles — and I wouldn't blame you if you didn't — then at least read the concluding paragraph of Goldstone and Turchin's report for NOEMA (emphasis mine):
This has already been, and will continue to be, a violent year in America. We need to brace for post-election violence and prepare bipartisan methods to ensure that the election outcome will be widely regarded as fair and legitimate. It will take heroic efforts to rebuild the political center, to join businesses and workers in partnership and consensus, and to restore fairness in both taxation and public spending. Only if all sides can again recover a stake in our government, no matter which party controls it, can we avoid sliding into a crisis that will undermine our Constitution and pit Americans against each other in a way we have not seen for generations.

Personally, I'm really worried. I've been thinking about this a lot over the past several weeks, but I haven't really done much to address it in my own life. Like many people, I've stuck my head in the sand hoping it'll all blow over. It can't happen here, right? Not in America! That sort of thing happens in other countries. :slu: I'm going to make some effort, though. Extra food and supplies never hurt, and they won't go to waste if they're not needed in the long term. It's like the pandemic all over again.

We're approaching a singularity of sorts. There's simply no way of knowing what life will be like on the other side of these upcoming events. Things are going to get worse — a LOT worse — before they get better. Better to prepare now than be caught flat-footed, I think.
 

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To be honest, I gave orders yesterday to sell all my stocks.
Better safe than sorry with the money that I gathered as a supplement on my pension in the upcoming years.
I took a small hit due to corona panic in March, it recovered reasonably since then.
I don't want to take another hit because of the possible turbulent aftermath of the upcoming election results.

There is a worldwide bumpy ride just around the corner IMHO, because of the deep division of the American people and super genius 45 at the helmet, who will try to take as much as possible down with him in his fall, if he looses the election.
I'm more than worried for the near future, to be honest.
 

Sid

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I hear gold is a good purchase right now... *cough*
I could consult Tony Beets or Parker Schnabel..... 🤔
Nope. To expensive already.
I choose for something simple as the EU currency at the moment.
"Buy low, sell high" is rule number one of the game.
 

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Don't discount Buzzfeed News.

Buzzfeed liaticals fund a lot of good actual journalism and work for Buzzfeed News, which has broken several large stories over the years.

Buzzfeed News is pretty legit and serious.
 

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What I've struggled with more than anything else is how any "movement" like the hard right militias can threaten a civil war when they don't even have a semblance of any popular support. Most Americans just want to live in peace and raise their families. Most Americans (as shown by our anemic voter turnouts up until this year) don't like politics. How do you start a war without popular support?

Protests are inevitable. Unhappiness is inevitable (how many of the rest of us have suffered angst for the past 4 years over our current know-nothing Orange clown?) But any citizen who picks up a gun to revolt isn't going to be riding with Bobby Lee. They'll be either shot by National Guard or arrested and jailed.

Give it a month from the Election and I think the wildest predictions of these morons (like taking our guns or burning down our cities) will fade into a late night quip. Biden isn't the radical socialist they're claiming.

If we burn anything down, I vote we burn down Fox News. They bear a share of the blame for this bullshit.
 

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What I've struggled with more than anything else is how any "movement" like the hard right militias can threaten a civil war when they don't even have a semblance of any popular support. Most Americans just want to live in peace and raise their families. Most Americans (as shown by our anemic voter turnouts up until this year) don't like politics. How do you start a war without popular support?

Protests are inevitable. Unhappiness is inevitable (how many of the rest of us have suffered angst for the past 4 years over our current know-nothing Orange clown?) But any citizen who picks up a gun to revolt isn't going to be riding with Bobby Lee. They'll be either shot by National Guard or arrested and jailed.

Give it a month from the Election and I think the wildest predictions of these morons (like taking our guns or burning down our cities) will fade into a late night quip. Biden isn't the radical socialist they're claiming.

If we burn anything down, I vote we burn down Fox News. They bear a share of the blame for this bullshit.
I hope you're right, but even enough of the people who claim they just want peace and the like are falling into the 'Trump is a gift from God' and QAnon traps, and if they are told that it was stolen from them, they will be a lot more supportive of those right-wing militias.

My spouse with his grounding in political theory is really wishing we could afford a gun.
 
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Sid

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Churches have a great track record in supporting war actions.
If they preach "foul play" or "against the will of God" after an 45 election defeat, any sentiment chance can happen within days, IMHO.
Religion has still far more influence in large parts of the US, than in Western Europe.
 
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Rose Karuna

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What I've struggled with more than anything else is how any "movement" like the hard right militias can threaten a civil war when they don't even have a semblance of any popular support. Most Americans just want to live in peace and raise their families. Most Americans (as shown by our anemic voter turnouts up until this year) don't like politics. How do you start a war without popular support?

Protests are inevitable. Unhappiness is inevitable (how many of the rest of us have suffered angst for the past 4 years over our current know-nothing Orange clown?) But any citizen who picks up a gun to revolt isn't going to be riding with Bobby Lee. They'll be either shot by National Guard or arrested and jailed.

Give it a month from the Election and I think the wildest predictions of these morons (like taking our guns or burning down our cities) will fade into a late night quip. Biden isn't the radical socialist they're claiming.

If we burn anything down, I vote we burn down Fox News. They bear a share of the blame for this bullshit.
Before Trump was elected I would have been 100% in agreement with this Cindy but not so much now. I'm seeing armed "militia members" all over the place lately. Seeing them at city hall, seeing them at polls, trying to intimidate voters, seeing them at peaceful protests and even seeing them in the frigging Walmart parking lot. Granted, I live in Florida, a crazy state but just consider that a group of these people actually tried to kidnap the Governor of Michigan. I am having a hard time wrapping my brain around that. Trump is inciting them and if he loses, I have no doubt he'll try rallying them to intimidate and protest and even kill on his behalf.
 

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Before Trump was elected I would have been 100% in agreement with this Cindy but not so much now. I'm seeing armed "militia members" all over the place lately. Seeing them at city hall, seeing them at polls, trying to intimidate voters, seeing them at peaceful protests and even seeing them in the frigging Walmart parking lot. Granted, I live in Florida, a crazy state but just consider that a group of these people actually tried to kidnap the Governor of Michigan. I am having a hard time wrapping my brain around that. Trump is inciting them and if he loses, I have no doubt he'll try rallying them to intimidate and protest and even kill on his behalf.
Oh, I'm sure there's enough of them to stir up all kinds of chaos and kill people. No doubt. But I also know that they do not have the numbers to effect any major social change. The news media (and I mostly watch "left wing" MSNBC) is focusing hard on them, stirring up their own panic wave just by reporting on it. I don't consider that source to be completely objective, either.

But the fact remains - they don't have the numbers, the unit organization, experience or even the logistical support to be a threat comparable to the old Confederacy (a failed revolution). Judging from the videos and photos I've seen (which are admittedly every bit as anecdotal as reports like yours from Florida), I see overweight, undisciplined pencil dicks playing "army" out of some psychological malfunction. In the face of halfway trained National Guard (the real militia), they would either surrender or die. Vs. Special Forces they'd be out of their depth. There wouldn't be a popular uprising (see also Tim McVeigh, who thought blowing up the Murrah Building would call out those same militia). There can't be a political revolution without significant numbers of citizens who are so fearful of their well-being that they're willing to risk violent death. That's when the reality of their psychosis either kills them or makes them pee their pants. They don't have the organic structure to pull off an effective guerilla war against the government.

I'll change my mind when the biggest groups acquire missile-armed drones and AH64 helicopters. And lose a bunch of weight. They'll need to be able to run without having a heart attack. :)
 

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PIRA and the Unionist paramilitaries never had a great deal of popular support, but they had enough, and enough guns and explosives, to make quite a lethal nuisance of themselves, and the US paramilitaries are a lot better armed and able to operate far more openly.

Despite our having no particular problems with proscribing as criminal seditious organisations, seizing their members' and supporters' weapons, and putting people in prison for hate speech, we in the UK have in the past had plenty of problems with extremist paramilitaries, so I'm not that optimistic about how well the US will deal with them, not least because what I can only describe as -- at best -- a party of fascist sympathisers and enablers has spent the last 4 years packing the federal judiciary with its sympathisers.
 
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Cindy Claveau

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PIRA and the Unionist paramilitaries never had a great deal of popular support, but they had enough, and enough guns and explosives, to make quite a lethal nuisance of themselves, and the US paramilitaries are a lot better armed and able to operate far more openly.
As I said, I'm sure our brand of domestic terrorists are capable of horrendous violence and death. It doesn't really take much training to pull off a bombing or shooting as long as they're willing to die, themselves. But there is a clear line between suicide bombing and extended, viable threat to civilization. It is also correct, however, that our military and the *real* militia (National Guard) are capable of inflicting unacceptable losses on the rebels.

I'm not that optimistic about how well the US will deal with them, not least because what I can only describe as -- at best -- a party of fascist sympathisers and enablers has spent the last 4 years packing the federal judiciary with its sympathisers.
We appear to be waking up from a long nightmare, here. IF Biden wins and we flip both the Senate and House, a lot of wrongs from the past 30 years (not just 4) can be corrected and a new course set in. I could be a fool - I have been in the past - but I don't see a Biden-led administration sitting idle while those far right groups grow stronger. Some of the resistance to that is going to come from Biden's policies and proving that he's not the "socialist" tyrant Trump portrays him to be. Should the election become a landslide, which is very possible, it's also possible that the firebrands on the Right will just grumble and retreat to their Twitter holes. We don't know, yet.

I feel like I'm living in privilege here in red state Kansas. We have a few nutballs but most of them are elected LOL. (Brownback, Pompeo!) I do not expect to see flag-waving gun-toting morons marauding through my streets here. This isn't Michigan or Texas or N. Dakota. There's nothing for them to shoot up other than our Democratic Governor, and she's popular enough right now that would be a blunder. After what happened in Michigan, I'm also sure that our state KBI has taken steps to insure that she's not kidnapped.
 

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If we burn anything down, I vote we burn down Fox News. They bear a share of the blame for this bullshit.
Be sure to also take out OANN, Breitbart, PragerU, Turning Point, and all the other far-right propaganda sites while we're at it. They're possibly even more complicit than Fox News.
 

Rose Karuna

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Oh, I'm sure there's enough of them to stir up all kinds of chaos and kill people. No doubt. But I also know that they do not have the numbers to effect any major social change. The news media (and I mostly watch "left wing" MSNBC) is focusing hard on them, stirring up their own panic wave just by reporting on it. I don't consider that source to be completely objective, either.

But the fact remains - they don't have the numbers, the unit organization, experience or even the logistical support to be a threat comparable to the old Confederacy (a failed revolution). Judging from the videos and photos I've seen (which are admittedly every bit as anecdotal as reports like yours from Florida), I see overweight, undisciplined pencil dicks playing "army" out of some psychological malfunction. In the face of halfway trained National Guard (the real militia), they would either surrender or die. Vs. Special Forces they'd be out of their depth. There wouldn't be a popular uprising (see also Tim McVeigh, who thought blowing up the Murrah Building would call out those same militia). There can't be a political revolution without significant numbers of citizens who are so fearful of their well-being that they're willing to risk violent death. That's when the reality of their psychosis either kills them or makes them pee their pants. They don't have the organic structure to pull off an effective guerilla war against the government.

I'll change my mind when the biggest groups acquire missile-armed drones and AH64 helicopters. And lose a bunch of weight. They'll need to be able to run without having a heart attack. :)
It's the running without having a heart attack part that convinced me. 🤣
 

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There is a very strong possibility that Trump will lose. And I believe that we will see acts of violence linked to the election, during or after.

However, I do not see a sustained, armed insurrection. There are a small number of people willing to use political violence. This is nothing new, it's the same element that has been active in mostly rural parts of the country. Trump's rhetoric has given them both encouragement and cover, and if he loses I expect him to ramp that kind of incitement to 11.

The most violent period in American history was the lead up to the Civil War (and the war itself, obviously). Despite current unrest and violent acts, we are nowhere near Bleeding Kansas levels of conflict. And the Civil War was the endpoint of over a decade of partisan violence that was sustained and focused on the issue of Slavery. What we have now is a general unease in rural communities without a clear focus. We aren't even at Red Scare or Brown v Board of Education levels of conflict right now.

tl:dr There will be incidents, but my expectation is that after a short increase in activity, and with increased focus from Federal law enforcement, things will return to the status quo, with a few hardcore White Nationalists committing acts of opportunity as opposed to a strategic, sustained insurrection.
 

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As I said, I'm sure our brand of domestic terrorists are capable of horrendous violence and death. It doesn't really take much training to pull off a bombing or shooting as long as they're willing to die, themselves. But there is a clear line between suicide bombing and extended, viable threat to civilization. It is also correct, however, that our military and the *real* militia (National Guard) are capable of inflicting unacceptable losses on the rebels.



We appear to be waking up from a long nightmare, here. IF Biden wins and we flip both the Senate and House, a lot of wrongs from the past 30 years (not just 4) can be corrected and a new course set in. I could be a fool - I have been in the past - but I don't see a Biden-led administration sitting idle while those far right groups grow stronger. Some of the resistance to that is going to come from Biden's policies and proving that he's not the "socialist" tyrant Trump portrays him to be. Should the election become a landslide, which is very possible, it's also possible that the firebrands on the Right will just grumble and retreat to their Twitter holes. We don't know, yet.

I feel like I'm living in privilege here in red state Kansas. We have a few nutballs but most of them are elected LOL. (Brownback, Pompeo!) I do not expect to see flag-waving gun-toting morons marauding through my streets here. This isn't Michigan or Texas or N. Dakota. There's nothing for them to shoot up other than our Democratic Governor, and she's popular enough right now that would be a blunder. After what happened in Michigan, I'm also sure that our state KBI has taken steps to insure that she's not kidnapped.
Yes, but the point about terrorist paramilitaries is that they don't often engage in open conflict with their opponents, and the challenge then becomes to suppress them rather than to inflict a military defeat.

Obviously they aren't going to overthrow the US government, but they could certainly make life very unpleasant for a good many years in particular parts of the country, particularly if they enjoy the tacit (or not so tacit) support of many local and national politicians and of many of the judiciary -- think of the KKK, for example.
 
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Yes, but the point about terrorist paramilitaries is that they don't often engage in open conflict with their opponents, and the challenge then becomes to suppress them rather than to inflict a military defeat.

Obviously they aren't going to overthrow the US government, but they could certainly make life very unpleasant for a good many years in particular parts of the country, particularly if they enjoy the tacit (or not so tacit) support of many local and national politicians and of many of the judiciary -- think of the KKK, for example.
I think that there is a strong parallel between the armed factions in Northern Ireland and various American movements, especially the KKK, the Sovereign Citizen Movement, and other White Nationalist groups. They are well armed, but prefer to use intimidation and targeted attacks instead of open conflict. Despite being well armed, they rely on having sympathy for their goals and grievances, if not their methods. And they know that in an outright military struggle, they would lose that goodwill and not last long against a determined effort to remove them. They need to walk a fine line between reminding people that they are capable of violence and not becoming unsympathetic because of it.
 

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Churches have a great track record in supporting war actions.
If they preach "foul play" or "against the will of God" after an 45 election defeat, any sentiment chance can happen within days, IMHO.
Religion has still far more influence in large parts of the US, than in Western Europe.
I think that's putting the cart before the horse, at least in the current US. We don't have Sovereign Citizens because Christian Identity churches are teaching antigovernmental White Supremacy. We have Christian Identity churches because Sovereign Citizens are forming congregations that reflect their views.
 
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