Violence Is Now Part of the Right’s Playbook
We are now living under the GOP’s tyranny of the minority. A third of the country is currently holding the other two-thirds hostage. This angry and loud minority is preventing us from beating the pandemic, they’re protecting Trump’s failed tax cuts for the rich, undermining the right to vote and allowing our citizens to get gunned down by military weapons.
The Republicans have maintained this tyranny of the minority through the electoral college, the small state bias of the U.S. Senate, the filibuster rule, extreme gerrymandering and a politicized federal judiciary. What is seldom being discussed is that the threat of violence and actual violence itself is now an important part of the right’s playbook.
This reliance upon violence began with the Tea Party during the Obama Administration. Activists showed up at demonstrations armed with AK-47s and other military assault weapons. During the debate over Obama Care, several Democratic members of Congress faced death threats and their offices were vandalized by unhinged Tea Party supporters.
According to The Guardian on March 25, 2010: “One caller to the office of Bart Stupak, a Democrat who voted for the legislation, said: “I hope you bleed … [get] cancer and die.” A fax to his office carried a picture of a gallows with “Bart (SS) Stupak” on it and a noose attached. Representative James Clyburn, the highest ranking black lawmaker, said he received a fax with an image of a noose. Others received threatening phone calls.” This was just the tip of the iceberg.
Right wing threats of violence and actual violence itself escalated after Donald Trump began his presidential run in 2015. The former TV reality star encouraged his followers to assault protesters, and for police to beat up inmates and to shoot demonstrators. Former Trump adviser and confidant Steve Bannon suggested that Dr. Anthony Fauci be beheaded. Due to numerous threats, Fauci and his family have had a security detail for over a year now.
Things got much worse after Trump lost the 2020 election to Biden. Election workers in the battleground states received numerous threats and some of them had to go into hiding. One Pennsylvania state senator said she voted against certifying Biden’s win in that state because she feared that somebody would blow up her house. Several U.S. House members voted against the second impeachment of Trump due to threats of violence from his followers.
This all culminated on January 6, 2021, when Trump encouraged his supporters to attack the U.S. Capitol and steal the election. On that terrible day, five people were killed and 140 were wounded. Many of them were police officers. Leading Fox News entertainers like Laura Ingraham ridiculed the police who were badly wounded by Trump’s thugs.
This wave of threats and violence has now gone nationwide — it’s even happening in Nebraska. On August 6, the Nebraska State Board of Education held a public hearing on a new draft of health standards. Most of the crowd opposed the new standards and yelled and booed loudly during the proceedings.
The radical right tried to accomplish through intimidation and violence what all other efforts had failed to do. A man wearing a QAnon shirt yelled: “How many of us do you need to stand up? How many January 6th’s do you people need to see? I suggest you start paying attention!”
“So that is very scary as an elected official, when you see these insurrections and people were threatening them, I was fearful,” said Deborah Neary, a member of the Board of Education.
Similar attempts at intimidation occurred at meetings of the L.P.S. School Board and the Millard School Board over a proposed mask mandate. According to somebody who attended the meeting in Millard: “Dozens of people showed up to speak to the board. Most of them were mean spirited QAnon followers who booed and threatened board members/parents/educators who supported the mask mandate . Police were required to escort an education association member to his car because they feared for his safety. The unruliness and violence won. No one on the board would even second the motion.”
Members of the L.P.S. School Board also reported receiving threats. Longtime school board member Kathy Danek posted on Facebook: “I will not be intimidated.”
Unfortunately, this support of threats and violence is widespread among the GOP base. A recent George Washington University Poll, found that 47 percent of Republicans believe that a time will come when “patriotic Americans have to take the law into their own hands.” Similarly, a February 2021 poll from the American Enterprise Institute indicated that 39% of Republicans agreed that “if political leaders will not protect America, ordinary people should employ political violence.”
A recent piece from The Atlantic summed it up well: “Since 2015, Republican leaders like McConnell have plainly been hoping that Trump’s movement and its violent rhetoric would somehow just go away. They ignored, and thereby effectively condoned, it. But it didn’t go away. Instead, it ripened into actual violence on January 6 and seems ready to burst out again in a far more savage manner during some future confrontation. The cancer of political violence is not an endemic American disease. At the moment, it is a Republican disease.”
At the present time, the GOP is engaged in the most dangerous and cynical sabotage campaign since eleven states seceded from the union and formed up the Confederate State of America in 1861. The right wing media and some elected officials are actively discouraging their supporters from getting vaccinated. These Republicans want to prolong the pandemic in the hopes that Biden and the Democrats get blamed.
We need to make GOP extremism the centerpiece of the 2022 campaign. The Republican Party is completely unfit to govern.
The Democrats are the party of the people, prosperity, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the ACA. We must never let the voters forget that.
The Republicans are the party of the rich, sabotage, mass unemployment, mass illness, mass death and violence.
The Republicans will always be the party of Donald Trump. We must never let the voters forget that. History matters. Now let’s get it done! We can do it!