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Tag: republican threats of violence

Not 'Both Sides': GOP Violence Is America's Biggest Political Story

Reprinted with permission from PressRun

First, some good news.

The New York Times recently ran an important piece about the rising specter of violence within mainstream Republican Party circles. The article was noteworthy not only because it spotlighted the frightening instances of violent rhetoric and actions the conservative movement is eagerly unleashing in America, but because the Times used clear and concise language to tell the story.

Temporarily shedding the lazy Both Sides blanket that so many newsrooms use when forced to acknowledge how reckless today's GOP has become, the Times piece didn't waste time trying to camouflage the trend. "From congressional offices to community meeting rooms, threats of violence are becoming commonplace among a significant segment of the Republican Party," the daily reported unequivocally. "The most animated Republican voters increasingly see themselves as participants in a struggle, if not a kind of holy war, to preserve their idea of American culture and their place in society."

That's the good news — some mainstream media outlets are using succinct language while addressing the most important political story in America today. Honestly, it's one of the most crucial unfolding stories in the country's history as the Trump-led GOP fuels an unprecedented, multi-pronged assault on U.S. democracy and gleefully flashes the threat of overt violence in the process.

That's the bad news, and it's spreading. "I have a hard time seeing how we have a peaceful 2024 election after everything that's happened now," Lee Drutman, a senior fellow at New America told the Times.

Political hostility is not new to America. The country was rocked by violence clashes, for instance, during the late 1960s and early 1970s, as the anti-war movement fractured off into more militant factions. But never did leaders of the Democratic Party or members of Congress overtly endorse political violence the way today's Republican Party does, as it continues to actively whitewash the deadly January insurrection, which is now glorified by Fox News.Democrats never used their considerable political muscle to try to demolish free and fair elections in America. That's not true for today's Republican Party, as it actively mainstreams the looming menace of hostility by fanning the flames of civil unrest, including last week celebrating an underage vigilante killer, Kyle Rittenhouse.

After he was acquitted on murder charges, at least three House Republicans said they wanted the gunman to be their intern, including Rep. Madison Cawthorn who urged his followers to "be armed and dangerous," while posting a message celebrating Rittenhouse's acquittal.

"Hard to describe how chilling it is to see members of the GOP and open white supremacists come together to celebrate a vigilante killing two people and getting away with it," Cassie Miller, an extremism researcher at the Southern Poverty Law Center, tweeted.

The flashpoints of Republicans and conservatives promoting political violence have become ceaseless, to the point of frightening normalization. After Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) tweeted an anime video altered to show him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and swinging two swords at President Joe Biden, virtually the entire Republican Party rallied to Gosar's side when he faced a formal House rebuke for his violent, dehumanizing outburst.

Despite the GOP's nearly universal support, Politico insisted the episode highlighted the "fringe" side of the party, while the Beltway media outlet Punch Bowl reduced the threatening, unnerving Gosar chapter to Democrats and Republicans just not trusting each other.

The violent virus is spreading to the grassroots level. Polls suggest that as many as 21 million Americans think that the use of force is justified to restore Donald Trump to the presidency. In Kansas, anti-vaxxers showed up to municipal meetings wearing yellow stars, suggesting they had equal footing with Jewish victims of the Holocaust. White nationalist members of The Proud Boys are showing up at local school board meetings, to lend a menacing air to the proceedings.

At a conservative rally in western Idaho last month, a young man asked local leaders when he could start killing Democrats. "When do we get to use the guns?" he said as the audience applauded. When Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) voted in favor of the recent infrastructure bill to help rebuild roads across the country she was inundated with death threats. One man told her, "I pray to God that if you've got any children, they die in your face."

The welcome Times piece last week on GOP violence stood in contrast to a wave of vague, worthless reporting we've seen this year about how "Americans" are angry, without pinpointing the obvious source of the unbridled, incoherent wrath.

"Americans are angry about ... everything. Is that bad?" read a recent Christian Science Monitor headline. The piece equated right-wing, anti-mask parents storming local school board meetings and issuing death threats with social justice activists taking to the streets to protest police brutality. Those two things aren't remotely similar.

CNN's Chris Cillizza recently bemoaned how "we're all just so damn angry," but could only find examples of far-right bullies lashing out in public.

Sanctioned, Republican political violence will be the most unnerving story the D.C. press faces in coming years.

Why Trump Is Desperate To Outlast The January 6 Select Committee

Here's the thing about starting fights: You can always get your butt kicked. As drunk as any barroom brawler on Trumpist lies, many Americans appear to be fantasizing about political violence. According to a poll reported in the Washington Post, "a large number of Republicans — 3 in 10 — believe violence might be justified 'to save our country.'"

That translates to about 12 percent of the American people, roughly thirty million. It's almost as if January 6 never happened. I fear the fever won't break until there's a real shootout and a bunch of people get killed. This is America, after all. Next time, the Proud Boys are apt to bring guns.

Also next time, the authorities will be better prepared. It appears that the single biggest factor in police and military unreadiness last January was sheer disbelief. Nobody imagined that a MAGA mob would actually storm the Capitol until they did it.

Alternatively, Trump could exit the scene, one way or another. There appears to be nobody else in American politics with his peculiar mix of shamelessness and showmanship to keep the MAGA masses enthralled.

That's why the work of the bipartisan congressional committee investigating the January 6 insurrection is so important, and why Trump is so determined to run out the clock — filing nonsense lawsuits to keep the evidence of his chicanery from being revealed before the 2024 midterm elections. Seditious conspiracy is a serious crime, punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Not that anybody's about to prosecute a former president. Actually, it's more the cynicism and sheer incompetence of Trump and his inner circle that he needs to hide. Court filings showed him trying to prevent congressional investigators from examining more than 700 pages of evidence — including handwritten notes, call logs of Trump and former Vice President Pence, White House visitor records, and much more.

He doesn't even want people knowing who was there, much less what they were talking about before, during, and after the storming of Congress.

But we already know plenty.

"If you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore," he told the crowd, vowing to march with them down Pennsylvania Avenue. A typically empty promise. He's always preferred to lead from behind. Indeed, it's doubtful Trump could actually walk that far in his girdle and elevator shoes.

"Let's you and him fight" is his favorite motto.

Nevertheless, Trump's henchmen understood. As Rep. Lynn Cheney(R-WY) has pointed out, "it appears that Mr. [Steve] Bannon had substantial advance knowledge of the plans for January 6th and likely had an important role in formulating those plans. The day before this all occurred — on January 5 — Mr. Bannon publicly professed knowledge that 'All hell is going to break lose tomorrow.' He forecast that the day would be 'extraordinarily different' than what most Americans expected."

Indeed Bannon's podcast spoke of "revolution." He urged listeners, "Let's get ready. It's all converging, and now we're on the point of attack tomorrow."

So was Bannon present at the White House on January 6? Were he and Trump in regular contact? They'd like to keep everybody from knowing.

Out in the street, groups styling themselves the "MAGA Militia" had established three checkpoints: "Cowboy," "Minuteman," and "Rebel."

Like a bunch of kids playing guns. Now those hombres are headed for the hoosegow, poor dopes.

For two months, Trump had been bitching and boasting about the "stolen" election he lost by seven million votes. On November 21 he tweeted: "The proof pouring in is undeniable. Many more votes than needed. This was a LANDSLIDE!"

Meanwhile, his Rudy Giuliani-led team of bad lawyers filed 60 separate lawsuits charging electoral fraud. Because nothing says "Trump" like a bullshit lawsuit. In an astonishing display of incompetence, they lost all 60 for lack of evidence.

Come January, Trump found yet another legal crank who persuaded him that Vice President Pence — a contestant in the election ,— had the constitutional authority to determine the winner. He told the mob outside the White House that everything depended upon Pence.

At 2:24 p.m., as the MAGA mob breached the Capitol, Trump tweeted: "Mike Pence didn't have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution."

A chant went up in the crowd: "Hang Mike Pence."

John Eastman, the crackpot lawyer, emailed Pence's chief of staff, then hiding with his boss in the Capitol basement: "The 'siege' is because YOU and your boss did not do what was necessary."

Now he says he was just kidding, it was a purely academic exercise.

Trump followed the action on TV for another three hours. When House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy begged him to act, Trump refused. "You know what I see, Kevin? I see people who are more upset about the election than you are. They like Trump more than you do."Any questions?