Months before the 2022 midterm elections took place, the corporate media saturated their publications with headlines meant to frighten Americans and get voters to buy into their preferred narrative.
“Concerns of Violence grow as Election Day nears,” proclaimed NPR.
“A spiral of violence and fear is creating angst for many voters ahead of the midterm elections,” wrote NBC News.
Donald Trump’s “Big Lie” was stirring up rage-filled conservatives who were going to take out their anger on poll workers and voters, or so said the fearmongers. The riots at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, were just the beginning of a red wave of blood and terror, they told us.
None of that happened. Instead, the left brought the 2022 midterm elections the Big Scare, driven by an overheated corporate media and a Democratic Party that used its usual media tools to help them “save democracy” by scaring the hell out of voters.
A review of news coverage from battleground states declared ripe for political violence finds few incidents of actual threats, let alone actual violence on Election Day. Observers on both sides of the aisle report last week’s elections functioned peacefully and well.
That’s not to say some election officials around the country haven’t endured hostile communications, including threatening language, since the bitter 2020 presidential election. But even the Biden administration, which did everything it could to gin up the tired insurrection narrative, noted just days before the election that “no specific credible threats” had been identified by law enforcement.
“Americans should feel safe going to the polls. It is important for Americans to do so,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Election Day eve.
As is often the case, the flack’s words did not comport with President Joe Biden’s fiery speech less than a week before the election when he urged Americans to “not allow the dark forces that thirst for power” to destroy American democracy. Those “dark forces,” of course, are his political enemies — also known as Republicans.
Fear porn peddlers did their job well. An ABC News/Washington Post poll not long before Election Day found a whopping 88 percent of adults were worried political divisions in the country are so raw that there’s an increased risk of politically motivated violence. Such “angst for many voters” is understandable amid screaming headlines about a “spiral of violence and fear.”
As we’ve learned from recent election cycles, polling isn’t merely used to neutrally report on public opinion; it’s often used to shape public perception. The Big Scare did just that.
“We could be six days away from losing our rule of law,” warned historian Michael Beschloss, who wondered whether “our children will be arrested and conceivably killed.”
In battleground Michigan, PBS reported that a threat of political violence loomed over several races.
“Election officials in Michigan are especially worried as the midterms approach and multiple election deniers are on the ballot,” Laura Barrón-López reported.
She interviewed Cheryl Rottmann, city clerk for Madison Heights, a suburb of Detroit. Rottmann said she had never had so much anxiety “as far as making sure everybody is safe, including myself and my workers.”
Rottman did not return Empower Wisconsin’s request for comment. The Madison Heights Police Department did and said there was not a single incident of political threats or actual violence from the polling stations.
“None of these predictions panned out. There was no electoral violence or intimidation. No one mobbed ballot boxes or election offices,” wrote Heather Mac Donald, fellow at the Manhattan Institute, in a City Journal piece headlined, “The Other Imaginary Red Wave.”
Growing Threat Narrative
The liberal Brennan Center for Justice vigorously pushed the violence at the polls narrative. In March, the George Soros-funded group published a report asserting that attacks against election officials were taking a toll. The center claimed that more than half of the 600 local election officials it contacted said they were concerned about the safety of their colleagues.
There’s no doubt that some election workers have experienced threats and intimidation. Officials warned of election worker shortages in the face of so much fear. But however real the pre-election period threats may have been, there were few incidents of actual violence leading up to and on Election Day.
Perhaps one of the more alarming cases involved a man who walked into a polling site in West Bend, Wisconsin, armed with a knife and yelled out, “Stop the voting.” The criminal complaint, however, revealed that 38-year-old Michael Miecielica did so hoping to invoke a police response. The prosecution and defense have noted mental health concerns.
Similar mental illness questions surround the man who attacked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul, with a hammer at the couple’s gated San Francisco home late last month. Democrats, particularly Nancy Pelosi and Biden, have used that assault as a political cudgel leading up to the election.
The Manhattan Institute’s Mac Donald says predictions of right-wing violence are now a standard feature of Democratic rhetoric. The “violent election-deniers” narrative is a subset of the larger white supremacist conceit so beloved by Biden.
Despite the Biden Justice Department’s chest-pounding over the president’s political enemies, law enforcement has found relatively few actionable incidents of violence against poll workers.
As of early November, there had been just eight cases involving threats to election workers, according to a DOJ election security task force. As ABC reported, the task force had reviewed “‘over 1,000’ reports of threats, though only 11% had met the threshold for federal criminal investigation.”
“While many of the contacts were often hostile, harassing, and abusive towards election officials, they did not include a threat of unlawful violence,” an August press release from DOJ said.
Longtime Wisconsin political consultant Mark Graul said the 2022 midterms proved that the republic can still “do elections and do them well and do them in the right way that’s fair and honest and above board.”
“There was no right-wing violence going on, and there wasn’t rampant cheating going on here, either,” Graul said.