Donald Trump’s “Rigged” Election Rhetoric Guarantees Fallout, Violence

Rowan Bassman, Contributing Writer

Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church in Greenville, MS, was set aflame Tuesday night, the brick exterior spray-painted white with the words “Vote Trump.” This is not the first hate crime committed in Trump’s name, and as the election approaches, I fear it will not be the last.

Voter intimidation is inherent to Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump’s electoral strategy. Trump has called for his supporters to closely monitor polling places to counteract supposed voter fraud, a statistically insignificant issue. Regardless of whether Trump and his surrogates are truly worried about voter fraud, this rhetoric acts as a dogwhistle, calling upon the most fearful members of Trump’s constituency to racially profile fellow voters. The thought of hypervigilant Trump supporters patrolling voting places on Election Day could be enough to intimidate some potential voters into staying home.

With Clinton’s chance of victory estimated by The New York Times at 86 percent as of yesterday, some writers have made melodramatic declarations that Trump will be swept from the national stage on Nov. 8. But Trump’s rise did not happen in a vacuum, and he will not disappear into a vacuum. Even if he concedes when he loses — if he loses — the culture of authoritarian chauvinism and nativist prejudice that produced this fascist will be alive and raging.

Moreover, I am skeptical about Clinton’s 86-percent chance of victory. Polls are not votes. Probability does not take into account the lump of fear in the stomach of a Clinton supporter living in Greenville.

If Trump wins, his most bigoted supporters will feel validated and may not wait to act upon their sense of empowerment. This is consistent with recent nativist waves in other countries. Following the Brexit referendum, hate crimes in England and Wales rose by 58 percent in the final week of July compared to that same week the previous year, and were still up 41 percent in August, according to figures reported by the Home Office.

The LGBTQ anti-violence charity Galop reported that homophobic attacks rose 147 percent in the three months following Brexit in the UK. Similar correlations have been noted this year with the success of far right parties and anti-Semitic hate crimes in Germany, the Netherlands and other European nations. In the U.S., California State University San Bernardino researchers found a 78-percent rise in hate crimes against Muslims in 2015, corresponding with Trump’s rise — making it the worst year for anti-Muslim hate crimes since 2001 in the wake of 9/11.

If Trump loses, those same supporters will decry the “rigged” election and may take violent action against marginalized people in their communities, perceiving them as responsible for stealing the election. According to an Oct. 26 poll conducted by USA Today and Suffolk University, over 40 percent of Trump supporters have said that they won’t recognize the legitimacy of Clinton as president if she prevails. Furthermore, 51 percent of likely voters are concerned about the possibility of violence on Election Day.

Before, during and after the election, I implore you to consider what resources you may have available to protect the rights and personal safety of people in your community.

Can you offer transportation to polling places for early voting or on Election Day? Can you accompany people to the polls? If you are working to “get out the vote,” are you taking into account that there are people who are actively attempting to suppress marginalized voters?

If Trump supporters use election results as justification for violence against people of color, queer people and religious minorities, can you offer transportation or monetary support to those in compromising situations? Can you offer a place to stay? Can you offer emotional support to your peers?

In light of what could transpire on Nov. 8 and beyond, know that voting, while vital, is the least you can do.