Editorial: No place for political violence in democracy – San Antonio Express-News
A recent poll found 30 percent of Republicans and 11 percent of Democrats support potentially using political violence. This has to be condemned.
A pall has settled over this country, and it is not tied to any meteorological event.
No, it is the darkness in our own political soul, a bitterness that cleaves this great nation. Particularly troubling is how comity and a commitment to one another is getting lost for some. Diplomacy — to one another, not just abroad — is the hallmark of any healthy, working and sustainable democracy.
A recent poll from Public Religion Research Institute reports an alarming finding: About 30 percent of Republicans agreed with this statement: “Because things have gotten so far off track, true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country.”
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That the question was even asked is chilling.
“It is an alarming finding,” Robert Jones, founder and chief executive of PRRI, told reporters. “I’ve been doing this a while, for decades, and it’s not the kind of finding that as a sociologist, a public opinion pollster … you’re used to seeing.”
These are dark times, and the results of the poll should have been no surprise. We have seen this belief — the notion that violence is the answer — morph into action. The Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol is one glaring example, but there are others, and it would be foolish to think there are not more to come.
More to come? They already have. A man recently advocated violence at a Turning Point USA rally in Boise, Idaho, and he did it in a calm, sober voice, as if he were suggesting nothing more shocking than a dinner date.
“At this point, we’re living under corporate and medical fascism,” the man said. “This is tyranny. When do we get to use the guns?”
The crowd applauded.
“No, and I’m not … that’s not a joke,” the man continued. “I’m not saying it like that. I mean, literally. How many elections are they going to steal before we kill these people?”
Charlie Kirk, executive director of Turning Point USA, denounced the comments, but he did it for the wrong reasons, saying they “played into all their plans.” So there you have it. Murder is not intrinsically wrong; it is a bad PR move.
The question struck an important note. Among those who believe the Big Lie that the presidential election was stolen, the poll found support for violence rose to 39 percent. Little wonder an insurrection occurred.
We have seen this dynamic play out throughout the country, including in Texas. Police laughed and refused to help after receiving a 911 call about Trump supporters driving erratically to harass a Biden campaign bus near San Marcos last October, according to a lawsuit filed by Biden staffers. The ploy could have had catastrophic results.
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It is easy to justify violence when it is part of your belief system. Rep. Marjorie Taylor, R-Ga., is a prime example. She recently suggested that the Capitol riot was in line with the Declaration of Independence, an absurd interpretation of the heroism that birthed this nation and a ghastly defense of an insurrection.
While more Republicans supported violence, 11 percent of Democrats agreed it may be necessary to solve our problems, the poll found. They should be condemned also, especially when the belief hardens into action, as it did a year ago in Tucson, Ariz. A father and son, driving in a pickup, were shot at after honking at a Joe Biden supporter putting up a Black Lives Matter sign, according to police.
These ugly incidents show a nation in disarray. They must be condemned, vigorously, whether perpetrated by Republicans or Democrats. The proper battlefield for political conflict is the polling booth.