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The Day I Bought the Gas Masks

It was a cool early November in West Denver. My roommate at the time and I were worried about the results of the November 2020 election, as Donald Trump, regardless of whether he was going to win or lose, was sowing doubt as to whether the election was legitimate. Already having secondhand experienced the George Floyd protests that made me fear riding my bike into a sea of teargas everynight, I made the purchase and bought Soviet-era gas masks out of fear that civil unrest post November 3rd would make the events of the protests seem like small potatoes.

My acting theory on the night of the elections was simple: Trump acolytes, using alternative networks such a Parler and Telegram, would use the slow counting that typified election week last year to disrupt things, usurping election divisions throughout the country and throwing everywhere into chaos. I remember distinctly telling my roommate that a Latin American style coup would play out before our eyes. Along with ordering the masks, I got every item in FEMA’s disaster preparedness checklist, and rigged an old phone to act as a closed circuit camera in front of my apartment door.

Election night 2020 in Denver came and went. Early on in the night, the state was called for Joe Biden, and outside of myself and a small group of people, things seemed relatively calm and peaceful outside. I leaned a little bit into election news, but it played out in the background of my everyday life, with my roommate moving out and my future living plans eclipsing it at most points. The one bright spot about the election week for me personally was the flipping of Georgia. At the point, I made the decision to return the masks, as any coup attempt that Trump would try at that point would be more focused on the swing states, not necessarily focused towards dark blue Colorado.

Thought I ultimately decided to return the gas masks I was proven right.

Multiple lawsuits in every state from Nevada to Georgia. I watched the news, fearing for my Nevadan and Georgian friends that would see the blunt end of a successful lawsuit by the Trump Campaign. They all failed, with Trump’s attempted coup culminating for that election season in the January 6th attacks on the Capitol.

That being said, the coup attempt, and the attempt to rewrite its history, isn’t over. Right wing pundit Tucker Carlson’s latest special is a revisionist history of this attack, stating that it was a “false flag” and a “honeypot” in much of the programming. The Governor-elect of Virginia, Glenn Youngkin, spoke at an event prior to election night 2021 where a pledge of allegiance was held with a flag that was at the January 6th insurrection. To this day, former President Trump has not conceded the 2020 race, choosing instead to use most of his post-presidency to attack the Biden administration and build a social media network for his far right followers.

So, while Trump’s party is out of power in Washington now, the ease at which it was able to regain much power in Virginia and New Jersey by slightly pivoting towards the center should be disturbing, and the coup on democracy is just beginning. While the gas masks and protection against street mobs may not be needed now, it may not matter when they are no longer on the streets, but in the halls of power democratically elected.

featured image is a stock photo of a gas mask

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