Violence Is An Unthinkable Option – Or Is it?
We talked about this story on the radio this morning. As the Congress pursues impeaching President Trump for inciting a violent attack on the Capitol on January 6, questions about political violence are reported in the January 2021 American Perspectives Survey with some surprising answers.
One question asked -Is democracy working for all of us? Respondents say not really. " Nearly half (48 percent) of Americans believe the political system is stacked against conservatives and people with traditional values...... Americans with more conservative political views strongly endorse this view. Seventy-nine percent of Republicans agree that the political system is stacked against more traditionally minded people. Notably, close to half (46 percent) of independents and more than one in four (27 percent) Democrats also agree."
So how far will our fellow Americans go to preserve what is considered to be the traditional American way of life? That depends on who you ask.
"A majority (55 percent) of Republicans support the use of force as a way to arrest the decline of the traditional American way of life. Forty-three percent of Republicans express opposition to this idea. Significantly fewer independents (35 percent) and Democrats (22 percent) say the use of force is necessary to stop the disappearance of traditional American values and way of life."
A majority of Republicans, 55% are saying it may take force -- but who is listening? We talk all the time about being a divided nation and we don't know how we are ever going to be united.... but is anybody considering what happens if we don't figure this out?
Where are the compromises? What are the shared issues, the places we can agree. We have to find them and along the way we have to act as though the number "55%" is real. Because if we don't, what happens next will make a few hundred extremists breaking in to the Capitol, smashing doors & windows, swearing, yelling, taking trophies and selfies and fighting with police will seem like an episode of Sesame Street.
I would suggest the Democrat House members conducting the impeachment temper their rhetoric and emotional presentations about "how bad it was" and consider how bad it could get if 55% of fed up, sold out Republicans reach a point where they think violence is their only option.
"Although most Americans reject the use of violence to achieve political ends, there is still significant support for it among the public. Nearly three in 10 (29 percent) Americans completely or somewhat agree with the statement: “If elected leaders will not protect America, the people must do it themselves even if it requires taking violent actions.”
The Survey indicates we still have a bit of time to act because while the numbers show many Americans support the idea that violent actions may be necessary, there isn't much of an appetite for acting on those beliefs right now. However, the survey numbers indicate that if and its a big IF, but if conditions change, the idea of violence as a path to a political solution is at least on the table for millions. Think about that.
What does America do with the knowledge? Do Democrat leaders spy on conservatives and Republicans as a way to track an impending threat of violence--OR--do all our elected leaders realize we are all partisans second but Americans first. Do we set talk of violence aside and gather together with honesty, respect and understanding and then go to work, talk to each other, listen and issue by issue, fashion the political solutions that are as fair and acceptable to as many of us on both side of the aisle as possible.
It's a heavy lift, a big job but I can assure you there is nothing in political negotiations that is nearly as difficult as dodging bullets sent at you from your fellow citizens.. We NEED to do the right thing and soon. The Numbers have spoken.