As the US enters the final straight of what has been, to put it mildly, a highly unusual election campaign, something akin to hysteria is taking hold among spectators on both sides of the Atlantic.
The assumption is that the United States is in a highly delicate condition, that the election could quickly tilt it into widespread violence, and that the social and political divisions presently dubbed the culture wars could escalate into a real war.
One scenario suggests blood on the streets were Donald Trump and his followers to resist defeat and a respected think tank, the International Crisis Group, which usually analyses places such as Somalia has explained that it’s presently focusing on the risk of violence surrounding the US elections.
Reuters is providing its reporters in the United States with flak jackets, helmets and gas masks and there’s even a strand of academic opinion saying that the country has never been as dangerously polarised since 1860, the eve of the American civil war, and at which point does someone need to say, steady on?
The United States today may indeed be combustible with the Black Lives Matter demonstrations following the demise of George Floyd, the vicious pre-election verbal slanging matches across the US media, and questions about whether a defeated Donald Trump would go quietly but do we really have to go back to 1860?
The United States of the mid to late 1960s was a far more violent country than it is today.
Race riots were a recurrent fact of life in numerous US cities – the civil rights movement was in full flow – the Selma to Montgomery marches of 1965 were regularly broken up with excessive violence by local police and white avengers.
City centres and university campuses were the scenes of mob demonstrations against the Vietnam war that routinely turned violent.
In 1970, four students were shot dead and nine wounded at the Kent State University by the Ohio National Guard.
Malcolm X was assassinated in 1965, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy only three years later.
Urban rioting that followed the demise of Martin Luther King that April affected more than 100 US cities and the extent of the damage to downtown Washington DC was such that there were still hints of it in the late 1990s.
For the 1968 Democratic party convention in August, Mayor Daley sent 23,000 police to the streets to counter an estimated 10,000 protesters. The result was a confrontation and four days of violence during which more than 100 demonstrators were injured badly enough to be taken to hospital and almost 200 police officers were hurt.
Hopefully, Donald Trump will end up being toast in the elections and come January he will then crawl back under the same rock from whence he came, and let’s see what happens when he refuses to leave the White House or won’t accept that he’s lost the election – those unscalable walls and heightened security forces aren’t there for decoration!
But we’ll find out in a few days – I mean, it’s not like Donald Trump hasn’t endeavoured to interfere with ballots already or asserted that he can stop the election because of COVID.
Whatever a person’s politics is, I can’t believe that any rational thinking person would vote for Donald Trump – he doesn’t care about you or anyone else – he’s a nutter and only cares about himself, although saying that, I guess that makes him pretty average in American politics.