“Let’s not fuck around,” Stewart Rhodes said. “We’ve descended into civil war.”
It was a Friday evening in June. Rhodes, 55, is a stocky man with a gray buzz cut, a wardrobe of tactical-casual attire, and a black eye patch. With him in his pickup were a pistol and a dusty black hat with the gold logo of the Oath Keepers, a militant group that has drawn in thousands of people from the military and law-enforcement communities.
Rhodes had been talking about civil war since he founded the Oath Keepers, in 2009. But now more people were listening. And whereas Rhodes had once cast himself as a revolutionary in waiting, he now saw his role as defending the president. He had put out a call for his followers to protect the country against what he was calling an “insurrection.” The unrest, he told me, was the latest attempt to undermine Donald Trump.
Over the summer, Rhodes’s warnings of conflict only grew louder. In August, when a teenager was charged with shooting and killing two people at protests over police brutality in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Rhodes called him “a Hero, a Patriot” on Twitter. And when a Trump supporter was killed later that week in Portland, Oregon, Rhodes declared that there was no going back. “Civil war is here, right now,” he wrote, before being banned from the platform for inciting violence.
The U.S. has already seen a surge in political violence, and in August the FBI put out a bulletin that warned of a possible escalation heading into the election. How much worse would things get if trained professionals took up arms?
This is how majority of Trump supporters feel. They see a loss on election night as losing power over the country and haunting the progress to getting back on the path they saw it on with trump in off.
Tensions are definitely high and haven’t been this high in years over an election. Even Walmart felt the tensions when they announced they would be pulling guns and ammo off display just in case of civil unrest but then later reversed their decision.
Politics have been charged with tension as the race ends.
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