Buckle Up-Post-Election Unrest Could Be A Wild Ride: Here’s What To Expect
For many Americans, the run-up to Election Day felt like waiting for Christmas or Hanukkah when you were a child. It seemed so distant in the future. You just can’t wait for the time to arrive. You’re bursting with nervous energy and excitement, along with some trepidation that you may not get the gift you want. For voters, the day has finally come. Though, there is a catch. The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way the nation will vote and also when America will have an answer to who is the next president of the United States.
About 100 million people already voted before Election Day. On Tuesday, millions more will vote in person. As all of the mail-in ballots may not be counted by the time polls close, and states, such as Pennsylvania, are permitting votes trickling in after polling booths close, we may not have a winner. It’s possible that the results are hotly contested, as mail-in ballots take longer to tabulate than traditional voting in-person.
Both parties have armies of attorneys, ready to file legal actions if they believe there was voter tampering or argue over the validity of ballots received past a certain date. This wouldn’t be the first time that the U.S. has dealt with a contested race. Back in 2000, for a while, the world stood still watching Floridians hand count the ballots-deciphering “hanging chads”- to determine a winner. The Supreme Court weighed in on a dispute that held the election in suspense. Former Vice President Al Gore ceded the race to George W. Bush.
Things were not as polarized back then. There wasn’t the same level of animosity and acrimony. It was more civil compared to how it is now. They settled the matter amicably without any riots, protests or violence. A bitter contested election may not go the same way as it did with Gore and Bush.
Things could look frightening if former Vice President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump claim that they both rightfully won. The public will be afraid that people will take to the streets and the U.S. military may get involved.
Over the last number of months, the nation has witnessed peaceful protests get hijacked by some bad actors. Groups of thugs and miscreants waged a campaign of hate and fear. They set buildings ablaze, looted retail stores, engaged in reckless violence and caused mayhem in cities, such as Portland, Oregon.
In anticipation of riots, if the desired outcome is not realized by a segment of the population, stores, restaurants, shops and office buildings have boarded up their storefronts and entrances. You can see plywood all over shopping and downtown business districts. It’s a sad commentary on our country’s ethos of peacefully transferring over power to a legitimate successor.
If the ballot counts take a long time, it’s reasonable to believe that people will take to the streets, as they have for months, and engage in both peaceful and violent protests. The uncertainty and mayhem will be disturbing. Companies will likely put on hiring freezes. They may downsize people, even though we’ll soon be in the holiday season. To compound these problems, even in the hottest job markets, hiring appreciably slows down starting around Thanksgiving. It doesn’t usually pick up until the second or third week of January.
Small retail stores, restaurants and bars will be forced to close down and board up their windows and doors, as they don’t want their businesses ransacked and destroyed. They’ll further lose business and some may close, as they can no longer survive after eight months of little or no business and plummeting revenue and paltry profits.
People who are running out of unemployment benefits or have burned through their emergency funds will fear what they’ll do next. Many families won’t be able to pay their rents, mortgages or tuition payments. Instability and uncertainty are an anathema to investors.The stock market could crash, as investors pull out their profits from the run-up since the March lows. The panic selling may beget more selling.
Hopefully, this doesn’t happen and we get a clear and undisputed winner. On the positive side, once the dust settles, whoever wins, they will try to improve things immediately. It’s likely that a second round of multitrillion-dollar financial stimulus will be offered. Unemployment benefits may be increased. Payroll Protection Plan-type aid to small businesses could occur once again. There may be moratoriums placed on rent, mortgage payments and college tuition to help Americans get back on their feet again.
Trump would like to leave a legacy after eight years in office, boasting a roaring stock market, record-high employment and a robust economy. Biden would try to improve the environment, improve conditions for many working Americans and also create more jobs.
Originally published at https://www.forbes.com.