The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Tag: republican violence

Poll: January 6 Hearings Pushed Independent Voters Away From GOP

More and more likely November midterm voters have tuned in to the House Select Committee hearings and overwhelmingly do not like what they see -- with 70 percent saying that Trump-aligned incumbents and candidates who push the lies that led to the Capitol insurrection should not hold public office, according to a new nationwide poll released Friday.

“Seventy percent of Americans say they’re starting to hear that there are candidates running that are still tied to the Trump Republicans, tied to the attacks on the country,” said Celinda Lake of Lake Research Partners, referring to its nationwide poll of 800 likely general election voters taken between July 13 and 17. “And people think they should not be running; people should be disqualified. But if they do run, they want to actively vote against them.”

Lake, a top Democratic pollster, explained: “Seventy percent of Americans agree with the statement, ‘I would not vote for anyone who’s supported or encouraged the attack on our country on January 6.’ That includes 97 percent of Democrats, 73 percent of independents, and 39 percent of Republicans.”

The survey, which was taken before the select committee’s dramatic primetime hearing on Thursday, included other findings that showed sizable numbers of voters – possibly enough to affect outcomes this fall – are reaching strong conclusions about Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election. Their emerging view is that Republicans are the political party that supports the use of violence to gain power.

“Sixty percent of Americans say that they [the insurrectionists] were not patriots and 63 percent say they were not bystanders,” Lake said, speaking at a briefing hosted by Defend Democracy Project, a Washington-based group dedicated to the principle that voters determine election results. “People are much more likely to think that the Republican Party is more inclined to resort to violence than the Democratic Party. This has been a major shift.”

“Two years ago, people thought the two parties were about equally inclined to violence, but that perception has changed pretty dramatically,” she explained. “The most important numbers here… are the independents. By [a margin of] 16 points, the independents say the Democrats are not inclined to violence. By 21 points, the independents say the Republicans are inclined to violence. This is a sea change in terms of attitudes, and a very, very important development that has come out of what has been revealed in the hearings.”

The select committee hearings, which will resume in September, began on June 9. In April, Lake’s polling found that 24 percent of likely voters were aware of the hearings. By June that number was 40 percent. By mid-July, 60 percent said that they had heard “a lot” about the hearings and an additional 26 percent said that they had heard “some” about the series of eight hearings.

“With all the distractions and all the things going on in the country, that is just a phenomenal level of penetration,” she said. When broken down by party, 96 percent of Democrats support the House investigation, as do 62 percent of independents, and 29 percent of Republicans.

Among independents, who may vote for either Democrats or Republicans depending on the election – and therefore are coveted swing voters – more than 70 percent found the following revelations from the hearings were “very” or “somewhat” concerning, Lake reported.

• Trump was told that his supporters had weapons and did nothing to stop them. (79 percent).

• Trump tried to get security removed because “they’re not here to hurt me.” (76 percent).

• Trump was told ahead of time that his January 6 rally could turn violent. (79 percent).

• Trump’s call for a January 6 rally and protest that he said, “will be wild.” (74 percent).

• Trump’s reported intimidation of January 6 committee witnesses. (73 percent).

• Trump’s former campaign manager saying he was “asking for civil war.” (75 percent).

• Trump’s stolen election lies, after he was repeatedly told that he lost. (73 percent).

• Rioters saying that Trump’s rhetoric “got everyone riled up." (73 percent).

The level of concern among independents dropped off when asked how worried they were “about a future January 6th-like attack on our country.” While 91 percent of Democrats were concerned, and 31 percent of Republicans were concerned, only 50 percent of independents said they were concerned. However, among people who Lake called “surge voters,” meaning they don’t usually vote in midterm elections but did in 2018, 91 percent were concerned.

“What are the three big takeaways here?” Lake said, summarizing her latest research about the House investigation's political impact.

“The public has been paying a lot of attention, even with everything that’s going on,” she said. “That is bipartisan. [And] it has an enormous penetration with independent voters.

“The public has concluded that this was not just a spontaneous one-and-done bystander event,” she continued. “They have concluded that this was planned. This was funded. This was encouraged and that it's continued. And then it was anchored on a number of actions by Trump Republicans, and by Trump himself, and a number of false claims.

“They are worried about the future. And they’re willing to take future action. They are stunned that there are candidates running for state and local office as well as Congress, who supported and encouraged the insurrection, the attacks on the country, and they want to vote against those candidates who they think shouldn’t be running to begin with.”

The Republican Party's Murderous New Normal

The case of Kyle Rittenhouse, acquitted in the 2020 murders of two men amid chaos on the streets of Kenosha, Wisconsin, is ominous for the peaceful resolution of political disagreements. The sense of menace arises less from the utterly misguided 17-year-old shooter, or his complete escape from justice, than from the celebration by Republicans and "conservatives" of Rittenhouse and even of the killings he perpetrated.

This telling moment heightens the feeling of apprehension provoked by recurring threats and incidents of actual violence emanating from the far right and then justified, usually with indignant enthusiasm, by Republican elected officials at the highest level. The anger and hatred that have long simmered within that party are rapidly devolving into homicidal rage.

Consider the matter of Rep. Paul Gosar R-AR), who posted a video that depicted him murdering his colleague Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and attempting to kill President Joe Biden with swords. Gosar's fantasy bloodbath resulted in his censure. (This offensive cartoon wasn't even original, ripping off an identical 2016 meme that showed "Donald Trump" attacking "Hillary Clinton.")

While Gosar's own siblings warn that he is mentally ill, their diagnosis doesn't excuse him, or Republicans who voted to shield him from censure. No public official in this country is entitled to promote deadly mayhem against his or her opponents, even as "symbolism" or "humor," without being held accountable.

All but two House Republicans voted to excuse Gosar's glorification of political violence. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy remained silent for several days, until he finally issued a weak statement claiming that he had spoken with Gosar, who "took the video down and made a statement that he doesn't support violence to anybody."

Not only did McCarthy fail to utter a word condemning Gosar's behavior, but he promised the day after the censure vote that if Republicans win the House majority next year, both Gosar and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, another apostle of barbarism, on the lookout for Jewish space lasers, will be restored to the committee seats forfeited by their gross misconduct. "They may have better committee assignments," said McCarthy.

With his courting of white nationalists and adoption of neo-Nazi symbols, Gosar is a figure whose extremism would have embarrassed Republican leaders not so long ago. Only two years ago, in fact, McCarthy was sufficiently shamed by the actions of Rep. Steve King, the Iowa Republican who openly sympathized with neo-Nazis, that he stripped King of committee rank almost as soon as he succeeded Paul Ryan as Republican leader in January 2019. He basked in the praise of those who had excoriated Ryan for ignoring King's appalling record, which McCarthy gladly then described as "reckless ... wrong ... and nothing associated with America."

What has changed in the past few years is the accelerating acceptance of violence among Republicans since the defeat of former President Donald Trump and his encouragement of sedition and insurrection by his followers, who now form the Republican Party's boiling base. For McCarthy, it is no longer possible to act with decency and principle against the neo-fascist element in his caucus if he ever wants to be speaker of the House.

That is why the minority leader, at first humiliated and infuriated by Trump's instigation of the Capitol riot, has refused to cooperate in the Congressional investigation of that grim and terrifying day. McCarthy is a leader only in one respect: he leads in Republican cowardice.

The signals of peril flash constantly: At a public event in Idaho, where a man asked when he could "kill these people," meaning Democrats, and was applauded loudly; at school board meetings across the country, where "concerned parents" threaten to murder public officials and their families; at the homes of election officials who answer the phone at night and hear obscenely menacing words.

Far worse than the hateful conduct of the Republican rabble, however, is the justification of it by Republican officialdom — and their attacks on officials who seek to investigate and discourage those threats. They have in the front of their minds the example of Mike Pence, the former vice president whose execution by a ravening mob chanting "Hang Mike Pence!" seemed entirely possible on January 6 — and the recent remarks by Pence's old boss, who justified the cries to hang him by his beloved mob as "common sense."

When political violence becomes the new normal, it will come for them too. But that's what accounts for Kevin McCarthy's cowardice. For all the bluster and the filibuster, he's sweating with fear. So, trying to protect himself, he joins the mob. It is a familiar story that never ends well.

To find out more about Joe Conason and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

The Grand Old Party Is Now The Party Of Violence

A Republican running for Northampton County executive in Pennsylvania gave a heated address on August 29 about mask mandates in schools. Steve Lynch is tired, he said, of providing his school board arguments and data (he apparently thinks the data support letting kids go maskless), but the important thing about his rant is the threat of force: "Forget into these school boards with frigging data. ... They don't follow the law! You go in and you remove 'em. I'm going in there with 20 strong men."

That's the kind of language that Republicans are now employing. Lynch has not run for public office before, but he did attend the January 6 rally in Washington, D.C., and has posted on social media that the violence that day was a false-flag operation meant to discredit Trump supporters.

Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina spoke last week at an event sponsored by the Macon County Republican Party. He delivered the kind of lies that have become routine among some Republicans. The election was stolen — and not just the presidential contest but also that won by Gov. Roy Cooper (who defeated his opponent by a quarter of a million votes). Cawthorn told the crowd that vaccines are harmful to children and urged them to "defend their children." A woman asked what he plans to do about the "535 Americans who have been captured from January 6." Cawthorn, who has apparently heard this before, thundered, "Political hostages!" When someone in the crowd asked, "When are you gonna call us back to Washington?" he replied, "We are actively working on that one."

Insurrection talk is becoming Cawthorn's specialty: "If our election systems continue to be rigged and continue to be stolen, then it's going to lead to one place — and it's bloodshed."

Naturally, former President Donald Trump has endorsed him for "whatever he wants to do."

In neighboring Tennessee, the Williamson County school board was disrupted by anti-mask parents. As doctors and nurses testified that masks would help limit the spread of COVID-19, people cursed and threatened them: "We will find you!" "We know who you are!"

In Georgia, a mobile vaccination site had to be shut down after anti-vaccine protesters showed up to threaten and harass health care workers. "Aside from feeling threatened themselves, staff realized no one would want to come to that location for a vaccination under those circumstances, so they packed up and left," a spokeswoman for the state health department told the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

A survey of the rest of the country yields yet more examples.

We are all old enough to remember a time when election workers were public-spirited citizens, usually elderly, who volunteered their time (or got very modest compensation) to sit for hours at polling sites scanning names from lists of voters and handing out little stickers. That America is gone, driven out by a radicalized Republican party. A number of states with Republican majorities have passed laws that would impose criminal fines of up to $25,000 for "offenses" such as permitting a ballot drop box to be accessible before early voting hours or sending an unsolicited absentee ballot application to a voter.

But that's not the worst of it. Election workers have been hounded and threatened. Bomb threats have been emailed to election sites. "You and your family will be killed very slowly," read a text message sent to Tricia Raffensperger after her husband, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, declined to "find" enough votes to flip the state to Trump. As many as 1 in 3 election workers has reported feeling unsafe, and thousands are resigning.

When Rep. Liz Cheney made the principled decision to vote for Trump's impeachment, she noted that one reason more Republicans might not have chosen to join her was that "there were members who told me that they were afraid for their own security — afraid, in some instances, for their lives."

Republicans talk incessantly about other people's violence. The rioters who burned buildings after George Floyd's death. The criminals who make Chicago a murder capital. Immigrants who supposedly terrorize their host nation (they don't).

Criminal violence is a problem, but the kind of violence Republicans are now flirting with or sometimes outright endorsing is political — and therefore on a completely different plane of threat.

Kyle Rittenhouse, an ill-supervised teenager who decided to grab an AR-15 and shoot people at a Kenosha, Wisconsin, riot (killing two and wounding one) was lionized by the GOP. His mother got a standing ovation at a fundraiser in Waukesha. Ashli Babbitt has become a martyr. Allen West, former chair of the Texas GOP, speaks approvingly of secession. Former National Security Adviser and Trump confidant Michael Flynn suggests that we need a Myanmar-style coup. Some 28 percent of Republicans respond affirmatively to the proposition that "because things have gotten so far off track" in the U.S., "true American patriots may have to resort to violence" to save the country.

Maybe that's not so bad? Not even a third. Another poll framed it differently: "The traditional American way of life is disappearing so fast that we may have to use force to save it." Fifty-six percent of Republicans agreed.

They are playing with fire. Nothing less than democratic legitimacy is on the line. These menacing signals suggest that Jan. 6 may have been the overture, not the finale.

Mona Charen is policy editor of The Bulwark and host of the "Beg to Differ" podcast. Her most recent book is Sex Matters: How Modern Feminism Lost Touch with Science, Love, and Common Sense. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at