Well, here we go.
The attempt to intimidate Hillary Clinton’s supporters at the polls has begun.
ProPublica, a Pulitzer Prize-winning independent news organization, described Donald Trump supporters heckling voters at the elections office in West Palm Beach, Florida. They were captured on video shouting through bullhorns:
“How many Syrian refugees, Muslim refugees, are you taking into your home?” one Trump supporter yelled at Clinton supporters. “You hypocrites! Separate the people! Over here we have LGBT. And then over here we have the blacks. And then over here we have the Hispanics. But I’m going to tell you something: The hardworking American people that served in the armed forces for this country stand with Donald Trump!”
The Atlantic’s Emma Green reported that Democratic parties in Ohio, Arizona, Nevada and Pennsylvania have sued Trump in recent days for encouraging attempts to unlawfully intimidate voters:
“In Ohio, Pat McDonald, the Republican director of Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, has apparently reported that ‘Trump supporters have already visited the county elections board identifying themselves as poll observers, even though they did not appear to be credentialed as poll observers as required under Ohio law.’ Election officials have expressed concern about ‘instability on Election Day,’ one suit alleges, and discussed the possibility of bringing police officers to polling sites to address conflicts.”
Sixty-one-year-old Steve Webb, a Trump supporter from Fairfield, Ohio, told The Boston Globe at a Cincinnati rally that he will heed Trump’s call to volunteer as an “election observer” to fight the mythical “rigged” election:
“Trump said to watch your precincts. I’m going to go, for sure,” Webb said. “I’ll look for … well, it’s called racial profiling — Mexicans, Syrians, people who can’t speak American. I’m going to go right up behind them. I’ll do everything legally. I want to see if they are accountable. I’m not going to do anything illegal. I’m going to make them a little bit nervous.”
Early voters from across the country have begun sharing with me early-voting stories of intimidation from Trump supporters. I’m used to readers reaching out, but what a sobering narrative unfolding in real time.
One woman came up to me at Hillary Clinton’s rally at Kent State, where I teach journalism. Like so many other women, she doesn’t want me to use her name for fear the men who shouted at her might track her down at home.
When I asked how they knew she supports Clinton, she smiled and pointed at me. “Because I look like you, right? We’re of a certain age, and they assume.”
Yes, they do. So clever of them.
Late last month, I pulled in to a Walgreens parking lot about a mile from my house to pick up a few packs of family photos. As soon as I got out of the car, I saw him — and he saw me.
He was in his early 30s, I’d guess, wearing a Trump T-shirt. At the sight of me, he stopped and waited by the entrance. I doubt he recognized me. I’m not his type of columnist. I tried to avoid looking at him as I approached the entrance, but he was itching for a fight. He pointed to his chest and said, “I’ll bet this scares you.”
I shook my head and did something stupid: I paid attention to him.
“Son, your anger is none of my business,” I said, and then I walked into the store.
Learn from me, dear voters. Ignore the hecklers and just keep walking.
He was waiting for me when I returned to my car. “Hey,” he yelled through his open window. “Hey, you f—-ing hag. I’m not your son, and I’m not angry.”
I love it when they prove my point.
I sat in my car and looked at photos of my grandchildren until he got bored and pulled away. I wasn’t scared, but I’m not stupid. I didn’t want him to follow me home.
Has Trump inspired grown men to bully women like me?
Sure. And don’t they look silly?
For decades, we’ve been on the receiving end of their sorry excuse for manhood. Yet here we are, still standing — and speaking our minds.
We are the first generation of women in America who refuse to be invisible after 50. Every time those angry, red-faced fellas take the time to scream at us, they prove it.
Glad you can see us, boys.
On Election Day, you’re going to hear us, too.
Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and professional in residence at Kent State University’s school of journalism. She is the author of two books, including “…and His Lovely Wife,” which chronicled the successful race of her husband, Sherrod Brown, for the U.S. Senate. To find out more about Connie Schultz (firstname.lastname@example.org) and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
IMAGE: Liberty University students and supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump wear letters spelling his name before his speech at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, January 18, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts