Close to One-Third of Republicans Believe that “Patriots” May Have to Resort to Violence

A new public opinion poll taken by the independent Public Religion Research Institute as part of its 12th annual American Values Survey highlights a growing and frightening trend; Fully 30% of Republicans, or – more specifically, Trump’s MAGA right, agree with the statement, “Because things have gotten so far off track, true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country.”  Yahoo News features the findings in a story out this morning. 

The 30% figure exceeds the number of Democrats and Independents combined, with 11% of Democrats and 17% of Independents in agreement about the use of force. Combined, the results render the United States a nation in which one in five adults believes that violence against other Americans may be needed to put the country back on a “track” defined by those fighting.

It is an alarming finding,” said Robert Jones, CEO and founder of PRRI. “I’ve been doing this a while, for decades, and it’s not the kind of finding that as a sociologist, a public opinion pollster, that you’re used to seeing.”

Overall, the responses to this question illustrate the “significant and rapidly increasing polarization in the United States,” he said.

The rapid escalation itself, can and should be traced directly to Trump and his special brand of polarization. Trump lived life and ran his administration based on one value, “For or against me?” Trump

could no more unify the American people than he could fit into a medium shirt.

Yahoo quotes experts who agree:

Jones said the substantial showing of support for political violence among Republicans is “a direct result of former President Trump calling into question the election,” pointing to another stark finding from the PRRI poll: More than two-thirds of Republicans, or 68 percent, continue to believe the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump, compared to 26 percent of independents and just 6 percent of Democrats.

Again, certainly, the rapid jump in numbers is rooted in Trump’s tenure, especially his post-election tactics. But the trend is also rooted in polarization increasingly embedded in this country, particularly the Right, for the last forty years. Trump is an accelerant, not the cause of the fire.

As far back as the 2008 election, just eight years after Al Gore announced that “for the good of the country,” he would end all litigation against Bush, Mitch McConnell famously opened his Obama-era meeting by telling his caucus that its “highest priority” was to make Obama a one-term president. While the world entered the Great Recession, McConnell prioritized polarization over agreements that might pull the country out of the economic pain. Months later, the “Tea Party” proudly flew the Gadsden flag and talked about the tree of liberty requiring the blood of patriots.

These latest findings are deeply disturbing and President Biden fights the trend daily. But dangerous polarization infected this country long ago. It was not created in one term, and it won’t be extinguished in one term. And while it’s true that Trump furiously fanned the flames, it is also true that ever-increasing polarization can occur without Trump in the picture at all.




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