Election Day 2020 has arrived, and with it, trepidation, apprehension, and for many communities across our country, fear of what might come next.
Already, the outcome of the election – regardless of which way it tips – is being queued up for a legal dispute, and one that could potentially stoke the despair and anxiety of a nation already rocked by civic unrest during a pandemic that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and has changed the way we have lived for more than nine months.
The stressors on the country began with the arrival of a pandemic in February and accelerated with racial tensions that erupted in several of our large American cities, the unrest that led to violent protests, and repeated clashes with police and government.
As a result, we enter November with a populace that has felt “locked up,” and trapped by quarantines and safety restrictions. We find ourselves preparing for an unforgiving season of weather that will curtail many of the activities that have provided health-conscious citizens with physical activities to help defuse their pent-up anxieties.
Many in America are aggravated by the lack of a federal response to COVID-19 that has added to the casualties and containment of the virus. A lot of voters feel the personal interests of our government leaders have trumped the common good.
All of which brings us to a historic election, which has already seen record numbers of voters engaging across the country. All of the signs clearly point to potential unrest, with specific areas of the country under high watch for potential violence and protests.
Some key factors to keep in mind during the coming weeks:
- Even if you find yourself angry because of the outcome of the election, there is no value to taking that anger out on your neighbors, your hometown, or the businesses that provide the economic backbone to your community. Violence and looting are not the answer, they are only a furtherance of the systemic problems.
- Law enforcement nationwide is sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States. Regardless of the outlying cases that have strained police-community relations, remember that your police departments are ultimately there to serve and protect your community. There are thousands and thousands of good men and women behind those badges who will remember their oaths and will protect the integrity of their profession and the people they are sworn to serve.
- After the attacks at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, our state, indeed, our nation rallied around the “Boston Strong” mantra, which has become emblazoned in our psyche to personify our people’s resilience and unity. But Boston Strong was never about government providing that strength, it was about the people, the community, and the hearts of our neighbors that unified a movement and electrified an indomitable spirit. Regardless of what this election season yields, certainly here in the Bay State, we can remain Boston Strong and united in our community tenacity.
As is always the case in emergency management, we encourage everyone to prepare for the worst but to hope for the best. Try not to dramatically change your own behavior in the coming days. Continue to watch over your loved ones and your neighbors. Prepare for an unsettling landscape, much as you would for a major storm. And above all, maintain community-based conversations – within your home, your neighborhood, your city or town, and with friends and colleagues. Our country needs your calm, your resilience, and your strength.