What are we to think of “Trump’s Army.” Is this army something like Hitler’s Brownshirts? Or is it a motley crew of Proud Boys who like to play dress up and carry guns? Or is it a figment of Trump’s imagination?
If you are a worried Democrat, and you would like to scare yourself silly, you should read Trump’s email appeal from this summer. It reads:
“This email is FOR PATRIOTS ONLY.
You’ve been identified as one of President Trump’s fiercest and most loyal defenders, and according to your donor file, you’d make an excellent addition to the Trump Army.”
“The President wants YOU and every other member of our exclusive Trump Army to have to something to identify yourselves with, and to let everyone know that you are the President’s first line of defense when to come to fighting off the Liberal MOB.”
And, for a mere gift of $35, you get “our never-before-seen, Limited Edition Camo Keep America Great Hat.”
Camo! Perfect to wear with your camo pants and your camo jacket, and your utility belt, and your black assault rifle!
So let’s look at the Brownshirts. This was a paramilitary organization directly associated with the Nazi Party. It started in 1920 as a group of ex-military from WWI and some brawlers who were loosely organized to “protect” Nazi rallies. Its formal name was Sturmabteilung (Storm Detachment) or the SA. The members wore brown uniforms. The SA grew along with the Nazi party, so that by 1932 it numbered 400,000 men. It was highly organized along military lines, and indeed by 1933 it was twenty times the size of the German Army. (Wikipedia, naturally)
Trump’s Army is not the Brownshirts.
In fact, there is no army at all. It’s a fundraising gimmick, as well as a hair-raising tactic that is being used in the weeks leading up to the election. In recent days “the Army of Trump” has turned into a catchphrase for volunteers who Republicans are recruiting to watch the polls. “Our goal is to cover every polling place in our state with smart and trusted volunteers like you!” Connecticut Republican Party chairman J.R. Romano wrote in an email to party members. “JOIN the EDO [Election Day Operation] Army For Trump NOW to get started and one of our team members will contact you with more information.” (Hartford Courant, Oct 10, 2020)
Well, golly. If this is Trump’s Army, then I guess I am a soldier in “Biden’s Army.” After all, I am a committeeperson in Bucks County, PA, and I will be present at the polls on November 3rd, along with other committeepeople and some volunteers who I have recruited to answer questions and make campaign literature available. And we will all be wearing masks! I hadn’t thought about that.
In most states, poll watchers and representatives of candidates stand around and interact with voters. At my sites, we always say “thank you for turning out” to everyone who comes out after voting — even the ones who grimaced at us when they went in. The Republicans watchers behave the same way. Sometimes they even offer us donuts!
Please don’t be confused by Trump’s language. His volunteers will most likely be the same volunteers who were there in 2016 and 2018. They didn’t wear camo. They didn’t carry guns. They were respectful and so were we. That will happen again this year — at most polling locations.
Is it possible that some militia-types will show up with their uniforms and their guns? Undoubtedly that will happen somewhere, maybe several somewheres.
What will happen? In most cases, nothing. In general, there won’t be any problems if we Democrats don’t try to provoke them. Just let them stand there, but do notify election officials if they arrive. In “open-carry” states, they may be allowed to stand around and look menacing. If they are near a school or a government office, the police will tell them to leave. They might be arrested for Election Interference or Voter Intimidation.
No, Election Day should not see many nasty confrontations, much less violent confrontations.
But that leaves open the question of what happens after Election Day. Right now, it looks like a blowout for Biden, with no real basis for standing in the way. And we will all be able to look forward to a Biden Inauguration Day.
But what if the election is close? And what if Trump declares he was cheated out of office and gives the open whistle to his secret “Army” of Proud Boys and white nationalists?
When we are the most paranoid, we imagine that the police, the National Guard, the military, are all secretly part of Trump’s underground Army. And that these forces will help install The Donald for four more years and beyond. That’s not going to happen. The military brass truly detest Trump. The police don’t want trouble. The National Guard are our neighbors. NONE OF THEM ARE BROWNSHIRTS, even if a few sympathize with white nationalists.
We know that many militia groups fantasize about sparking Civil War in America. Do you want Civil War? Does your Republican neighbor want Civil War? I don’t think so. But that doesn’t deter some of the crazies, including the 13 men who plotted to abduct and possibly murder Michigan Governor Whitmer. Are there other “cells” like this in America? Undoubtedly. And a third of their members may be informers or undercover cops.
Keep something in mind. The men who formed the Whitmer plot also wanted to assassinate State Police members. Do you think that makes the cops their friends? No way. With all their faults, our police forces are made up of ordinary men and women. Like my father, who was a career Air Force sergeant, and like his friends, there is no right wing agenda. They are just doing their job. There is no “Brownshirt” mentality in our uniformed forces, and they will do their duty — according to law — no matter what our would-be Hitler can say or do.