Remember when election night meant bibulous parties, some more festive than others, as the results rolled in?

Even if your candidate lost, the ritual of a national election was somehow a unifying experience. But that traditional American unity in diversity is nowhere to be seen.

Who’d have thought that we’d see American cities boarding up for election night, and the following days and nights?

But it is—tragically—wise for cities to prepare for violence.

Unfortunately, some people can’t bring themselves to say what, exactly, is happening. We’re not changing our plans and boarding up buildings because we anticipate “mostly peaceful” protests, are we? But let’s not admit what is really going down.  

In this endeavor, Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department spokeswoman Alaina Gertz has coined a state-of-the art term that no doubt is giving “mostly peaceful protests” a run for its money: “First Amendment assemblies of any stature.”

Ms. Gertz used the expression Friday in a statement reported by the Daily Signal on how the D.C. police are preparing for possible violence on election night and in the following days. She said:

In regards to public safety planning, MPD does not discuss operational tactics; however, our Special Operations Division is equipped to handle First Amendment assemblies of any stature. Also, Chief [Peter] Newsham and Mayor [Muriel] Bowser provided additional guidance to the city’s preparations for the election at the press conference yesterday.

Since when have gatherings aimed merely at the expression of First Amendment rights required calling out Special Forces? But of course, if upholding free speech were the chief item on the agenda, we would not be boarding up buildings.

A lefty organization called ShutdownDC has big plans for post-election actions.

We’re going to start this next phase of the election cycle in the streets. We’ll have GoGo bands, salsa dancers, artists, cultural workers, and much more. We’ll also be watching the election results coming in on big screens. Votes will still be coming in, so this will (probably) not be the time we need to create disruption to stop a coup – yet. But we’ll be in a good place to respond to whatever might happen. This has been a really long and dark era so we’re going to be together to process our feelings of hope, anger, fear and exhaustion as a community.   

Regardless of the results, election-night programming will probably wrap up around midnight so we can be energized and ready to hit the streets again on the 4th.

So, votes you don’t like = a coup.

Look, if (big if) the proceedings are peaceful, don’t include harming people, the destruction of property or historical artifacts, why not?

However, Shutdown has plans to disrupt conservative organizations in Washington, beginning Nov. 4. It has published a list of such organizations and names and phone numbers of leading conservatives. I don’t need to tell you that this is intimidation. PJ Media writes:

The agitators justify their tactics by accusing President Donald Trump of working to undermine democracy, suggesting that the president is using militia groups to intimidate voters into pulling the lever for him and even attempting to destroy the postal service.

Who really believes that there are pro-Trump militia groups at polling places? (Actually, a lot of people may believe this, ridiculous as it is; the believers are probably in America’s poshest zip codes.)

At first, I thought George Washington University administrators had seriously over-reacted to the possibility of post-election violence. But I’m not so sure. After all they are responsible for the welfare of young people, and it does look like things could get out of hand. Here are some highlights from the GW advice (as reported in Inside HigherEd):

Ahead of tomorrow’s highly contentious presidential election, George Washington University is urging students “to be prepared for possible election related disruptions” near the campus in Washington, D.C., and to stockpile a week’s supply of food and medication.

The university’s warning went out in an email to students on Thursday and Friday. GW student affairs and residential living officials suggested that students living on or off campus prepare for Election Day “as you normally would for a hurricane or a snowstorm” in case they are prevented from leaving their residences, according to the email. It included tips such as “pick foods that have a long shelf life,” “stock up on over the counter medications” and “be aware of your physical surroundings” starting Tuesday.

By the way, HigherEd gently summed up what the GW administrators fear—that the university will become a “site of large gatherings and unrest.” Alaina Gertz could not have said it better.

Just because I don’t want you to worry about the safety of our celebrities, I include this report that the residents in a fancy Chelsea New York building (where, incidentally, America’s favorite Chelsea, the former first daughter, lives) have hired armed security to protect them tomorrow night.

You know—just in case the stature of “First Amendment assemblies” turns violent.  I guess guns are okay sometimes? Just not when hoi polloi need them.

Why have so many lost the ability to distinguish between a genuine First Amendment protest and something entirely different, something that, ironically, aims to shut down free speech. No matter who wins tomorrow (or whenever), we need to try to restore not just free speech but accurate speech. It is a first step to getting out of our predicament.