Friday, July 3, 2020
The Death of a Republic
Here's the plot of a political thriller I'm not writing:
On election day social media is flooded with concerns that Antifa is stuffing ballot boxes in urban polling stations. Armed militias (i.e. white men with guns) drive in from the countryside to "protect" the sanctity of the election. At some point, inevitably, someone gets shot. Again, social media is inundated with images and video. All across the nation polling places become deserted as people who were willing to risk COVID flee in fear of guns and white male rage.
Police either refuse to respond, or show up in SWAT gear and contribute to the atmosphere of fear. Perhaps the governors close the polling stations "to protect the people." By the end of the day the victors are declared. Mail-in votes are ignored, lost, or destroyed. The minority wins by suppressing the voice of the majority.
And if it doesn't work? If people vote in such numbers that even the suppression tactics fail? Then the Republican states declare that they cannot certify their vote tallies because of the violence.
The election goes to the House, where each state gets one vote. The Republican states vote for Trump. And there you go: a completely legal and Constitutional coup. The only legal response is through the courts, and we all already know how that one ends. The Republic dies by suicide - as everyone from Cicero to Lincoln told us it would.
The story works because the author has cleverly foreshadowed the conclusion with a series of events like Malhuer National Wildlife Refuge, Charleston, Charlottsville, Albuquerque, and of course the on-going national police riot. There is no unbelievable conspiracy of secret actors, merely the collusion of like-minded people acting in public and doing what they've been practicing all along.
But like I said, I'm not writing it, because I work in SF&F, not horror.