Political violence is sharpening American division


Francesco Ammendola/Wikimedia Commons

After being attacked on Oct. 28, Paul Pelosi was released from the hospital on Nov. 3.

Nicholas Pestritto, Staff Writer

The phrase “enough is enough” has never needed to be said as much as now. We are at a point in time in our society where it feels like we can no longer have civil conversations with people we do not agree with. The U.S. will struggle to survive if we are not able to find common ground with each other.

With Paul Pelosi, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, getting attacked and almost killed on Oct. 28, the discussion surrounding political violence has re-opened. This attack has once again shown the growing threat politically related violence poses to our democracy.

Over the past few years, we have seen everything from armed citizens attacking the United States Capitol Building to former President Trump’s private estate being raided by the FBI. Most recently, a conspiracy theorist broke into Speaker Pelosi’s house and attacked her husband with a hammer, fracturing his skull. According to USA Today, he believed in several far-right conspiracies, like QAnon. This is the same conspiracy theory that former President Trump refused to publicly denounce in an Oct. 15, 2020 town hall, per The Guardian.

Dangerous political rhetoric by our elected representatives has encouraged this type of political violence and has convinced people that our government is not legitimate. This can not be ignored and it is time that all of us as Americans do something to prevent more attacks on our government and government officials.

Both liberals and conservatives are contributing to dangerous political theories and forms of violence, but it has overwhelmingly come from the conservative side. Conservative figures and media outlets have pushed many different false claims, relating to the 2020 election and almost anything else beyond that. Bloomberg has reported that on June 27, Kari Lake, the current Republican candidate for Governor, posted a Fox News Interview on Facebook, claiming there was “a mountain of evidence” about hundreds of thousands of fraudulent votes in the state. 

Not only has this not been verified to be true, it is extremely dangerous because there are people that will believe her and will take action on that claim.

A 2021 study from the American Enterprise Institute found that almost three in ten Americans, as well as 39% of Republicans, agreed that “if elected leaders will not protect America, the people must do it themselves, even if it requires violent actions.”

It should terrify us all that our fellow American citizens want to use violence to protect our country because they think our elected representatives will not stand up for their beliefs or the fact that they think they were not fairly elected.

The violent rhetoric that is being used by people in power in our government and the former President is extremely dangerous. For example, former President Trump said on Jan. 6, 2021, “We fight like hell and if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.” 

Not only did this make the Jan. 6, crowd more aggravated, it gave them a reason to be there and made their actions acceptable. It made it OK for these supporters of the president to break the windows of the United States Capitol building and even go as far as to kill a police officer.

People have become so attached to these figures that they will believe whatever is said even if it is completely false. According to The Atlantic, 35% of Americans and 68% of Republicans believe that the election was stolen from former President Trump.

Elected representatives, several being Republican, have pushed conspiracies, false information and have increased political divisions to appeal more to the hard core Republican base founded by the former president. These people have actively engaged in strengthening the arguments for conservative extremists to take violent action against our government.

According to Politico, after the attack on Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Rep. Clay Higgins, a Republican from Louisiana, tweeted and deleted a baseless conspiracy theory about Paul Pelosi’s attacker on Oct. 30.

Without even offering an apology Rep. Higgins automatically pushes a far-right conspiracy theory. Actions like these and this type of rhetoric only emboldens conservative extremists, political violence and divides our country even further.

On the other side of this issue, there are people who acknowledge the problem but do not actively care or try to do anything to stop it from growing. As a country, we are going to continue to be plagued by these instances of violence and it will continue to traumatize the coming generations.

The only way we can get back to a true normal without staying in this new normal is to realize that we are heading down a terrible path and to accept that conservative extremism and the political violence that comes with it, is a direct threat to our democracy.

With the midterm elections having already passed, we can only hope that America made the right decision and sent a clear message to these elected representatives that we will not stand for them to push lies and conspiracies. 

We must elect people who will make good faith, common sense decisions on our behalf. It is time for all of America to wake up and see the truth.