Should we be prepping for a campaign outbreak?
Normally when we speak of the “far-right” terrorist threats in the United States, we think of the threat being focused on the “left” or liberal entities. It would make sense. Right vs Left, right?
The truth is that the far-right extremists in this country are not targeting the left or “left” communities but rather are quickly becoming a bigger and bigger threat to law enforcement and even the military. It is a confusing Right vs Right war that is growing and deserves attention especially as we enter another campaign and election season.
As we enter into this season and begin to consider which plastic-board sign we will place in our yard first, as responders, emergency managers and security specialists we should be considering the possibilities as the next 18 months moves along.
As the far right continues to nurture its own constituency, we will begin to see more and more political attacks that are directed at Republican candidates (possibly more than Democrat candidates) such as conspiracy theories and hateful rhetoric not to mention disruptions during campaign events.
Data and recent history suggest that in the post-Trump era, Republican politicians have become targets of the far-left at a rapidly growing pace. We are now seeing violence erupting at what should relatively peaceful events because of the anti-government Timothy McVey-style attitudes toward government. This should be a concern to everyone tapped to protect the safety and security of communities as we begin to see the campaign trails established on the map.
As campaign stops occur in your home-town, what will follow it and how angry will it be? Is your local law enforcement prepared to handle what may follow candidates and groups throughout the campaign season?
Without getting caught up in the opinions regarding the January 6, 2021 storming of our capital, the fact is that it was far rights that entered that building that day and it was anything but peaceful.
To give you some numbers, in the last two months of 2020, while COVID was still limiting travel, Trump made 79 stops in 17 states, Pence made 56 stops in 19 states, Biden made 57 stops in 13 states and Harris made 35 stops in 13 states.
If a shooting between two parties at a mall in El Paso can overwhelm a police department, if a lone wolf actor can walk onto a campus with a handgun and create deadly chaos for hours creating a need for hundreds of law enforcement officers to respond, how ready are American communities to welcome candidates on the campaign trail over the next two years?
We can read the reports, watch the news and pass all of this unrest off as just politics in America but only an idiot would say something has not changed. In the wake of the January 6 rioting at the Capital, it became quite apparent that extreme polarization has become the new norm in this country and since then things have not gotten any better. January 6th was given too much attention as another political weapon to use in argument and was not looked at enough as a sign that Republicans and Democrats now view each other as absolutely wrong, malevolent, evil and as threats to the American way of life. The events seemed to show us a country that was on the brink of a civil war and according to many specialists and scholars, we very well may be.
According to the latest poll, more than 40% of Americans think a civil war is likely in the next decade.
Some believe that these polls are skewed by the types of questions asked, the areas in which the polls are done and the party conducting the polls. For the sake of not arguing, let’s just assume that only 20% of Americans really think that civil war is likely. This does not change the reality of politicians acting like we already have begin that war and that is where the real threat comes in. If two candidates are on similar trails or debating, that hatred, that anger and that clash will attract those far-right and far-left groups that are drawn to that type of activity.
Imagine a candidate that believes that some subjects in custody deserve to be beaten when placed in custody has hit the campaign trail and is coming to your town to make a speech.
You and I both know this candidate will probably not get elected with such a stance, but during the four-hour visit, what might your local law enforcement, EMS, emergency management and fire service experience?
Perhaps we should change this to something more realistic like a candidate that believes strongly in the right to have an abortion? One that believes abortion is a sin? One that believes all guns should be banned? One that believes children should be allowed to carry guns to school?
Ooops. Those candidates already exist and are about ready to hit the trail.
The bottom line (and point of this whole rant) is that we should be holding exercises and discussions at the city and country levels across the country regarding just what this next campaign period could like and just how prepared we should be for it.
Most Americans are not extremists, but the number of Americans that are is growing and the candidates are learning how to manipulate those loud voices. I was recently reading a statistical analysis of the chances of being hit by a tornado. When you look at the data and the size of the United States, the probabilities are rather low that you will ever see a tornado let a lone be hit by one. What changes those chances is the density of population in a certain area, the chance of an outbreak with multiple tornadoes at one time and the length the tornadoes stay on the ground.
A normal tornado will only last a few minutes and travel a couple of miles. Some tornadoes will last 10 to 15 minutes and will travel between 20 and 50 miles. As weather patterns have changed, we have been seeing some tornadoes last 30 minutes and traveling almost 100 miles. This means that even though the tornado started in Rockford, Illinois, it could quickly spill over into Chicago, Illinois.
As we are preparing for tornado season, we might want to consider the severe campaign outbreak possibilities and how that might look and effect our communities.