Political violence – unacceptable in America – arises in societies where “rule of law” is not respected, leaders not trusted, and those who guide public dialogue – politicians and media – permit it. We cannot become that place.
Indicators of political violence have grown since mid-2020. Most disturbing is this “chicken and egg” idea, a tit-for-tat approach to justifying political violence. We need to nip that.
Today, countless media outlets report Republicans “started it,” citing the several hundred who overran the Capitol on January 6, 2021, against the backdrop of several hundred thousand who peacefully registered concern over COVID-driven election changes.
The rhetoric is now at fever pitch, with those who support Donald Trump or his “Make America Great Again” slogan – initially used by Ronald Reagan in 1980 – regularly demonized.
These law-abiding voters – 74 million in 2020 – have been called by a Democrat President, Speaker of the House, and Senate Majority Leader “enemies of the state,” “a threat to democracy,” and “extremists.”
If nothing else, the references are petty. But the aim can be interpreted as more insidious, to ridicule opposing convictions, disparage hundreds of millions of Americans for their faith, belief in the Constitution, unapologetic patriotism, centered on the Bill of Rights and accountability.
In rough alignment with Sol Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals,” the aim looks to be chilling support for the opposing party by threatening to bring the coercive power of the State down on them, already happening to dozens who served in the Trump Administration and the former president.
To a student of history, the push to delegitimize a political movement that is centered on fair administration of laws, constitutionalism, preserving history, science, free speech, faith, sound borders, reduced crime, parent control in education, and a stable economy, is ominous.
When words like “enemy of the state” are used – just like Communist China declaring thousands of death sentences annually for their political opponents – the skin crawls. That reference could be accidental or innocuous, but it is surely un-American.
When words like “threat to democracy” are used, twisted to condemn those most hopeful, in the populist and Jeffersonian tradition, about preserving democracy, something is wrong.
When the comeback to legitimate requests for accountability, limited government, accord with the First, Second, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Tenth amendments in our Bill of Rights, is that these people – these everyday Americans – are “extremists,” something is woefully off track.
Sensibly, logically, objectively, empirically – the conclusion one draws is that tolerance for opposing opinions is not favored, not invited, not respected, and they will be suppressed.
Making things worse, this is done by leaders who pretend to have moral authority, who assert culture must be changed from the top down, as under communism, with words like “woman,” “girl,” “boy,” “Mom,” Dad,” “gender,” “illegal alien,” “illegal drug,” “terrorism,” and “racism” al redefined, always in the direction of reduced respect for biology, history, law, and logic.
Despite this tip to radical attacks on the opposing party, what seems an invitation to political violence, the half of our nation rudely disparaged has held in their frustration – with few slips.
Remarkably, this has been so, even as laws are selectively enforced – like those protecting justices of the Supreme Court, southern border, children from illegal drugs, civil rights of parents, police officers, parishes, and conservative speakers.
All this is to say, political rhetoric has gotten edgy, even provocative, an incitement to political violence. But where did that come from? Leading Democrats say “Republicans.” Is that right?
For sure, Trump is opinionated, a disruptor of bureaucratic inertia, who pushed – through appointments, budgets, legislation, and challenges federal employees – that government must be accountable, smaller, more diffuse, closer to The People, less expensive, and liberty-centered.
He is not the first president to do so, but he did so in an unorthodox, often offensive way, calling out agency leaders, dressing down officials, questioning things not questioned, challenging people, including his political opponents.
His approach reflected newness to government, but he got big things done, helped all Americans, left a record of extraordinary economic, legal, regulatory, legislative, judicial, energy, foreign policy, and national security accomplishment – and across all demographics.
That is a mouthful, but true. So where did the business of permitting political violence begin? In truth, it started in 2020, with Democrat-supported race riots in 200 cities, defunding police. That was not from Trump or Republicans.
The events of 2020 were fanned by activists, intent on political violence, dropping piles of bricks across cities, doing major damage to minority neighborhoods, leaving a path of carnage.
Chicken or egg? Did it begin with race riots and lockdowns? Maybe crushed expectations among Democrats in 2016, when Trump won? Or with Republicans in 2020? Is it again in prospect because one party does not want to lose power – and has turned shrill?
In the end, it does not matter. If you believe in America, rule of law, electing leaders worthy of our trust … If you believe in the Constitution, Supreme Court, citizenship, accountability, holding onto our institutions, we must stop inciting hatred and halt the drift to political violence.
Why? Political violence erodes respect, trust, and order, excuses crackdowns, and is the real “enemy of the state,” “threat to democracy,” and definition of “extremism.” Americans know it. Biden knows it. We all need to turn the volume down. Enough said. And don’t forget to vote!
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