Column: ‘Eye-popping’ new survey on Americans’ acceptance of political violence should be a wake-up call to leaders

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Roughly 5 million Americans would be willing to kill someone for a political purpose, according to a new UC Davis study.

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“These are just eye-opening results,” says Geren Wintmute, head of the university’s Violence Prevention Research Program.

“I have never seen [survey results] hence. We decided that we have to get this paper out immediately.”


And to think, most of us grew up proudly believing that one of the great things about America was that we settled our political disputes in the ballot box—not with a bomb or a gun or a hammer.

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

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

A poor loser president – a spoiled, rich brat bully – says the election was stolen from him. And millions of lemurs adore him. Republican leaders who know better of course accommodate the “Big Lie” because they fear Donald Trump’s political grip on his worshipers.

The defeated president instigated fellow Americans to attack the US Capitol – a historic, shameful first – in an attempted rebellion aimed at overturning the election. It has taken political violence to a new frightening level.

President Biden has defined MAGA Republicans as those who voted for Trump two years ago and – most importantly – denies that he legitimately lost. He’s not wearing the old red Trump baseball cap bearing the Make American Great Again chant.

Here’s an example of how great America has become after Trump’s four-year term: A right-wing conspiracy theorist is accused of breaking into the US House speaker’s San Francisco home and hitting her 82-year-old husband’s head with a hammer, smashing his skull. charged with breaking. , David DePap told investigators that he planned to kidnap Nancy Pelosi and break her knees, calling her the “leader of the pack” of “lies” told by Democrats.

The attack was “politically motivated,” San Francisco District. Atti. Brooke Jenkins noted. Yes, we’ve done a lot lately.

In July, Wintemute’s research team questioned Americans on political violence, race and threats to democracy and found that out of more than 8,600 surveyed, 51% believed there would be a civil war in the next several years.

Notably, 42% said that having a strong leader is more important than a democracy.

And 19% strongly agreed that violence or force is needed to defend democracy “when elected leaders will not.”

Thereafter, Wintmute decided to focus primarily on MAGA Republicans. But he also questioned other Americans – Republicans and non-Republicans. That’s the study they just released.

They found that about 2% of those surveyed would be “very or completely willing” to kill someone in order to “advance an important political purpose”.

Think about it: About 258 million adults are Americans, Wintmute says. This means that about 50 lakh people are ready to settle a political dispute by killing their opponent.

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

“While 3 to 5 million Americans are inclined to consider concrete acts of violence such as murder, America is at risk of radical terrorism – the idea that if MAGA leaders call for targets, it is impossible to know what to call. who will answer or where or when, but [it’s] Very likely someone will. ,

He continued: “The present period seems like the 1830s when Abraham Lincoln noted that the only way to bring America down was ‘through suicide.’ We almost reached that time.”

Based on Wintemute’s research, there are approximately 39 million MAGA Republicans—15% of the adult population and a third of the GOP. Not just Trump supporters, but election deniers as well.

Wintmute found that MAGA Republicans are less inclined to use violence personally than other Americans, but they are more likely to see political violence as justified.

“Support for political violence, even those who would not engage in it themselves, creates an environment of acceptance that makes it easier for people to move on and commit violence,” Wintmute says, a longtime leader. firearms researcher and emergency room doctor who treats gunshot wounds.

“I am concerned about the potential for further violence” [election] weeks and in 2024,” he says.

“I am concerned about those who are unwilling to follow the election results as well as those who are willing to try to coerce the results they want.”

The poll found that MAGA Republicans are more likely than other voters to believe that “armed civilians should patrol polling places.”

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

And this is one: They are more likely – 27% of them – to strongly agree that “the government, media, and financial worlds in America are controlled by a group of devil-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex trafficking campaign.” Huh. “

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

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

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

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


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