If the result is adjusted for either of the two, it is possible that the president claims victory. And the scenarios that open do not support anything good.
On the way to Boston from New York to the house of my friend Lenny, with whom I have traveled 2,500 kilometers in the last nine days, we passed two long caravans of cars sporting American flags and pro-Donald Trump banners.
The show could have been festive. Like soccer fans celebrating a victory. But no. It was sinister. The faces of the faithful trumpeters inside the vehicles, almost all of them pick-ups, conveyed anger and rebellion. We can assume that several of them were armed.
It made me think that there is not one, but two important things at stake in the elections that take place on Tuesday.
First, the character of American democracy. A venerable right-wing magazine, the National Review, published an article this week that said: “Trump is a public threat that has introduced elements of chaos and unpredictability in the government’s activity… Trump’s problem is not aesthetic: it is dishonesty, stupidity and incompetence ”.
Also taking into account that Trump has overcome 26 accusations of sexual abuse and 4,000 lawsuits, and that 12 other lawsuits hang over him, including one for an alleged massive tax fraud, four more years of him in the White House would put the status of right in question. As Lenny puts it, perhaps going a bit too far, “If Trump wins, we are on our way to becoming a failed state.” What is also at stake in these elections is more immediate and more urgent. We are talking about the political stability of the most powerful democracy in the world.
I have read and heard countless people warning of the possibility of violent clashes, whatever the electoral result. He had thought they were exaggerating.
After speaking here in Boston with Democratic Congressman Seth Moulton I’m not so sure anymore. Moulton, 42, served as a Marine in Iraq for six years. I read that he decided to enter politics in the middle of the war when, one day in 2004, a subordinate told him: “Lieutenant, you should be a candidate for Congress. so this shit never happens again”. Now Moulton fears “the shit” that may fall on his own country.
“I spoke to a National Guard commander last week, expecting him to tell me that everything was under control,” Moulton told me. His answer surprised me. “We are very worried,” he told me. I found out a bit more and found that the intelligence services believe that there is significant potential for violence, from both sides, but especially from the right if Trump loses ”. But you will acknowledge, I tell you, that if Trump manages to turn the official result around there will be massive protests from the left, that there may be violence, in which case Trump’s supporters will not stand still …
“That”, he answers, “is obviously what worries us the most.”
What is the worst scenario you envision?
-The worst, of course, is that Trump wins. But the other alarming scenario is that Biden wins, as expected, but by very narrow margins in the decisive states. In that circumstance Trump is quite capable of instigating violence.
Once violence is instigated, one does not know where it is going to end, I propose.
-Exact. The United States has been through tough times. We survived a civil war. We are not there yet but we could go through incredibly difficult times and certainly these could be the most difficult four years in this country of my entire life.
I remind you that Trump has been warning for several weeks now that the elections are not going to be legitimate. I tell him that this reminds me of what I have seen in African and Central American countries, that I detect in the United States today a banana stench.
“You detect a stink. I, Moulton replied, a strong stench. Trump has been sowing the seeds of chaos and violence and I, as a congressman-elect, am very concerned. The military and police are concerned too. We are all looking forward to what may happen this week, and possibly in the weeks to come. “
Lenny listens to my interview with Moulton and then tells me: “I didn’t think the situation was that serious. It gives me chills ”. Me too. We are both struck by Moulton’s somber tone, as is that of another congressman, also a Democrat, whom we spoke to on Zoom a couple of hours later. Tom Malinowski, who represents a district of New Jersey, gives us news that we do not know. An hour ago, he tells us, one of the caravans Lenny and I saw this morning blocked traffic on one of the main highways in his state.