As a conservative-leaning libertarian in Cambridge, MA, I think I’m fairly in tune with both sides of the spectrum, and I think both sides of the spectrum are reaching dangerous points in public attitudes, each in their own way:
The left is increasingly sure that every motivation and action of the right is some form of bigotry. The extent to which this is true vs echo-chamber delusions doesn’t matter – that’s the perception. This has simultaneously occurred with a slow change in attitude where intolerant acts towards perceived intolerant people are now celebrated as heroic. To make things worse, Trump is, to the left, such an impulsive bigot that he’s likely to give rise to the 4th Reich. So any actions to stop or counter him are justified. Especially if he wins.
The things that the right perceives are things that I think might surprise many of my friends on the left. People on each side perceive the constitution and bill of rights differently, but one thing that the right understands more clearly is that your freedoms don’t come from the bill of rights – they’re inalienable. The bill of rights is the list of items that government isn’t allowed to infringe on, and every time it does our government is a bit more of what our founding fathers described as a tyranny. We could debate about all sorts of points about the 1st, 2nd and especially 4th amendment and whether government was constantly violating them or not, but the arguments almost don’t even matter – most of them come across as government trying to lie it’s way out the rules it’s supposed to follow, and I’m more interested in discussing the perception of a large part of society rather than the correctness of that perception.
On top of that, a founding principle of our country is supposed to be rule of law – the idea that no-one is above the law, and that no matter who you are, if you break the law you get the same punishment as anyone else. The perception on the right is that bureaucrats and politicians are increasingly getting away with things that should result in jail time, especially if they’re Democrats. They’ll internally investigate (and then pardon) themselves, without getting an independent investigator to prove their innocence. The current administration has been bad enough, but this sort of behavior has been getting worse for decades, and Hillary is perceived as the pinnacle of this sort of corruption.
Needless to say, all of this is causing an increasing perception of the illegitimacy of our government, in the sort of way that Americans are supposed to fight against. And if there’s even the whiff of fraud on election day…
All of this isn’t to say that I think half of America is going to go into open rebellion if either of the two front-runners win, but it seems like a bit of rioting is looking increasingly likely.