WASHINGTON – The White House has been strengthened, the National Guard is calling and gun sales are soaring.
On the eve of an important election, a deeply divided country is on the brink of being plunged deeper into a pandemic and unemployment raging while the country holds its breath at what some the fear can be the breaking of law and order or democracy depending on Tuesday.
Washington city center feels like a city preparing for a siege on Monday as the capital’s usual bustling streets have turned into a plywood ghost town with shingled facades. tile and windswept sidewalks.
DC Mayor Muriel Bowser said at a press conference last week: “We do not recommend parking or driving into the city center.
The car travel is empty. The necklaces have been taken out of the jewelry store window. And the t-shirt shelves supporting President Donald Trump or Joe Biden are still out for sale in a souvenir shop with a large sign on the windows up and down to let passers-by, “We̵7;re opening the door!”
Alex Quintero, who is working on building an office building, said that in 30 years building in the DC area, he has never seen so many plywood on the downtown facades. “Sometimes we have trouble finding it in stores,” he said. “There is a lot more work to be done.”
And it’s not just Washington. The top soaring election-related searches on Google on Monday were “polling cities”, while “election day riot” was also in the top 10. Polls show 6 / 10 voters say the country is on the wrong track and more and more people are concerned about being fired, while the economy continues to struggle and unemployment remains historically high.
Jon Stokes, deputy editor-in-chief of ThePrepared.com, a website that helps people prepare for emergencies, says he sees growing interest as elections approach and Covid cases. -19 increase.
“There is a very serious increase in anxiety around everything,” he said.
The site saw a spike in traffic in the early days of the pandemic as people were searching for information about food stockpiles and supplies, but the recent spike also included attention to family defense and weapons. “I think the gun stuff has something to do with political events,” he said.
Arms sales have soared for months, with the latest FBI data showing 3.3 million pre-sales background checks in October, up from an average of 2.16 million for the same month. in the last five years.
Dr. Laurie Paul, a practice psychologist in the Washington area, says she has seen a huge increase in anxiety around elections and strained relationships in politically mixed families.
“Great time,” she said. “They talked about how restless or anxious they were and how difficult it was to concentrate on their work.”
The election coincided with a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases and cold weather, which made it harder for people to meet family and friends, and after months of racism that Paul and other psychologists call the stressful “three pandemic” – viruses, elections and racism – especially for people of color.
Dr. Stephen Stein, former president of the DC Psychological Association and a practicing psychologist, said he had received calls from people he hadn’t worked with in 20 years.
“All three of these are coming together and creating a synthetic sense of fear and isolation,” he said.
A recent study by the American Psychological Association found that 68% of Americans said the 2020 election was a significant source of stress in their lives – a significant increase compared to 52% of those who did. say so in 2016. And the feeling is overcoming a political divide, with 76 percent Democrats, 67 percent Republicans and 64 percent Independence reporting tensions regarding vote.
APA CEO Arthur Evans Jr. “This is a year unlike any other in living memory.
Armed Conflict Locations and Event Data (ACLED) and MilitiaWatch researchers released a joint report last week warning of “increased militia activity during the electoral period and beyond election “across the country.
And leftist anti-fascist and anti-racist groups are also preparing, with one group holding a massive rally near the White House on Election Night saying they are “ready to do whatever is necessary.” to Protect Democracy. “
Across the country, anxiety and fear are rampant, especially among Democrats still threatened by their sudden loss in 2016 and those currently fearing Trump and others. His supporters may use violence or other illegal means to hold onto power.
Beth DeBruyn, 54, a mother of two from Delaware County, Pa., Told NBC News on Friday that she thought Biden needed an “indisputable victory” for it to end smoothly.
“I’ve never experienced this feeling around an election,” she said. “It is very stressful. I can’t wait to see the election.”
Dave Litko, 61, of McKeesport, Pa., Did not vote in 2016, but decided to vote for Biden this year because he said he was “afraid that Trump is inclined to be president for life. “
Kenneth Barton Jr., 70, a retired engineer from Alpharetta, Georgia, a northern suburb of Atlanta, says that regardless of who wins, it will take years to “get rid of” the racial tension that has exploded in the main rights Trump. .
“It’s no surprise to me that there are people like the Proud Boys out there,” said Barton, a black and a Biden supporter of the far-right extremist group. “What amazes me is how many of them there are.”
Many states have used the National Guard to help poll workers prevent police in case of major protests. And cities like Denver have called on businesses to prepare for civil unrest.
Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest retailer, said last week it was pulling guns and ammunition from its shelves, but reversed Friday’s decision and said it expected any real situation. Any alright will be geographically isolated.
The International Crisis Group, a nonprofit that typically operates in developing countries and global hot regions abroad, warned in a recent report that “the factors that cause unrest Alright is present. “
The group warned in a report: “The electoral district is polarized, both sides are questioning that there exists, violent agents can disrupt the process and prolong disputes.
But for Trump supporters, the widespread worry is that Democrats will lead the country toward socialism or communism, despite Biden’s four-decade record as a moderate.
Michael Bieda, 53, an Arizonan, wore blue sunglasses and a “Socialism” shirt, who attended a Trump rally during Trump’s rally in the Phoenix District.
Paul, a psychologist, says that although she often works with anxious clients to put their catastrophic trends into context, it’s harder to do now when the downfall in society doesn’t seem to be. far away.
“I feel a lot of anxiety is realistic, so I really have to change my strategy,” she said.
When a customer says he’ll make sure to fill her car’s gas tank before election night, in case that’s not the case, she thinks it’s not a bad idea and she has it. can do that.