Trump Will Be Gone Soon. Don’t Expect Armed Gatherings to Leave With Him.

Like the persistent harassment of Hillary Clinton, violent intimidation efforts are likely here to stay.

A Trump supporter holds a sign indicating the willingness to resist the election results during a rally on Cape Cod.Sue Dorfman/ZUMA

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

Jocelyn Benson and her young son were decorating the house with Christmas decorations on Sunday when dozens of armed protesters arrived outside, chanting, “Stop the steal” and “You’re a threat to democracy.” That’s according to a statement from Benson, Michigan’s secretary of state, along with video recordings of the incursion, an incident directly traceable to President Trump’s baseless conspiracy theories of election fraud and targeting of individuals he has falsely accused of conspiring to steal the election from him.

“The demands made outside my home were unambiguous, loud, and threatening,” Benson said late Sunday. “They targeted me in my role as Michigan’s Chief Election Official. But the threats of those gathered weren’t actually aimed at me—or any other election officials in this state. They were aimed at voters.”

The armed intimidation comes roughly two months after the FBI uncovered a plot to kidnap Michigan’s Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, wherein six men were charged with federal crimes for allegedly surveilling Whitmer’s home and conspiring to kidnap her to a “secure location.” That alleged plot follows months of Trump inciting supporters and far-right militia groups to “liberate” Michigan and resist Whitmer’s “lockdown” orders intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Benson, of course, isn’t alone. Trump’s rhetoric has fueled verbal attacks and physical threats against myriad election officials and lawmakers, even some Republicans, in the wake of his efforts to discredit the November election results. “It’s all gone too far,” Gabriel Sterling, a longtime Republican and Georgia election official, said in a press conference last week. He continued, addressing Trump directly: “Stop inspiring people to step up and commit potential acts of violence.” As columnist Michelle Goldberg wrote for the New York Times, that entreaty, while an appropriate condemnation of Trump’s harassment campaign, smacks of hypocrisy; Republicans were, and remain, overwhelmingly silent when the president promotes violence against Democrats. But the dangerous antics outside Benson’s home on Sunday showcase the terrifying effects of the abject failure of the party’s highest-ranking members to hold Trump accountable for whatever he’s attempting to pull off as he exits the White House.

While it is tempting to believe that all this will end on January 20, a look at the persistent harassment of Hillary Clinton offers a depressing alternative. (Below, you can see Trump devotees still gathering outside her Chappaqua home screaming “Lock her up!” more than four years after she was defeated.) The failure of Republicans to denounce similar intimidation efforts might mean this unhinged state of affairs is here to stay.

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate