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Skelton: Survey shows growing acceptance of political violence

About 5 million Americans would kill someone to achieve a political goal, according to a new study from UC Davis.

“These are just stunning results,” says Garen Wintemute, who directs the university’s violence prevention research program.

“I’ve never seen [survey results] like that. We decided that we had to publish this document right away.

And to think that most of us grew up proudly believing that a great thing about America was that we settled our political differences through the ballot box – not with bombs, guns or a hammer.

This is what distinguishes our relatively peaceful democratic system from brutal authoritarian regimes.

But now we have several million Americans who don’t believe in the ballot box, our pillar of democracy.

A poor losing president – a spoiled, wealthy tyrant – complains that the election was stolen from him. And millions of lemmings believe it. Republican leaders who surely know better how to cope with the “Big Lie” because they are afraid of Donald Trump’s political hold on his followers.

The defeated president incites his fellow Americans to attack the United States Capitol – a historic and shameful first – in an insurgency attempt to overturn the election. This is political violence taken to a frightening new level.

President Biden has defined MAGA Republicans as those who voted for Trump two years ago and — most importantly — deny losing legitimately. They’re not just wearing old red Trump baseball caps bearing the Make American Great Again mantra.

Here’s an example of America’s greatness after four years of Trump’s presidency: A right-wing conspiracy theorist is accused of breaking into the United States House speaker’s home in San Francisco and of hitting her 82-year-old husband’s head with a hammer, fracturing his skull. David DePape told investigators he planned to kidnap Nancy Pelosi and break her kneecaps, calling her a “ringleader” of the supposed “lies” told by Democrats.

The attack “was politically motivated,” San Francisco Dist. Atti. Brooke Jenkins noted. Yeah, we’ve had a lot of that lately.

In July, Wintemute’s research team polled Americans on political violence, race and threats to democracy and found that of more than 8,600 respondents, 51% believe there will be a civil war in the next few years.

Remarkably, 42% said having a strong leader was more important than a democracy.

And 19% strongly agreed that violence or force is necessary to protect democracy “when elected leaders won’t.”

Next, Wintemute decided to focus primarily on MAGA Republicans. But he also interviewed other Americans — Republicans and non-Republicans. This is the study he just published.

He found that around 2% of those polled would be “very willing” to kill someone to “advance an important political goal”.

Think about it: there are about 258 million American adults, says Wintemute. This means that about 5 million people are ready to settle a political dispute by killing their opponent.

Rachel Kleinfeld, a senior researcher at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace who studies violence, read the UC Davis report and observed:

“When 3 to 5 million Americans express a willingness to consider concrete acts of violence such as assassination, America is at risk of stochastic terrorism – the idea that if MAGA leaders call for a target , it is impossible to know who will answer the call or where or when, but [it’s] very likely someone will.

She added: “The current period resembles the 1830s, when Abraham Lincoln noted that the only way the United States could be brought down was ‘by suicide.’ We almost got it this time.

According to Wintemute’s research, there are about 39 million MAGA Republicans — 15% of the adult population and a third of the GOP. Not just Trump supporters, but Holocaust deniers as well.

Wintemute found that MAGA Republicans are no more likely to personally use violence than other Americans, but they are significantly more likely to view political violence as justified.

“Support for political violence, even by people who don’t engage in it themselves, creates an atmosphere of acceptance that allows people to move on and commit violence easily,” says Wintemute , a longtime firearms researcher and emergency physician who treats gunshot wounds.

“I am concerned about the possibility of violence in the near future. [election] week and in 2024,” he says.

“I worry about people who don’t want to abide by election results and at the same time are willing to try to force the results they want.”

MAGA Republicans are much more likely than other voters to believe that “armed citizens should patrol polling places,” the survey found.

They are also more likely than other Republicans to think having a strong leader is more important than having a democracy.

And there’s this: They’re more likely – 27% of them – to strongly agree that “the government, media, and financial worlds in the United States are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a worldwide child sex trafficking operation. ”

More of them, 51%, also strongly believe that “native-born white people are being replaced by immigrants.” And 72% strongly believe that “discrimination against white people is as serious a problem as discrimination against black people and other minorities”.

“There is a growing group of malcontents — almost always white men — who truly believe the country is being stolen from them and that it is their patriotic duty to take this country back,” says Barbara Walter, professor of political science at UC San Diego, international security expert. .

“They see violence as a legitimate way to do that.”

A hammer attack should be a wake-up call for all political leaders, especially Trump puppets.

Los Angeles Times

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