January 6, 2021:
THERE HAVE BEEN NASTY TIMES BEFORE:
The caning of Charles Sumner 1856:
BUT OUR TIMES ARE STILL PRETTY DIVIDED
From the Survey Center on American Life:
Both Democrats and Republicans have become more certain that the opposing party’s vision for the country represents a clear and present danger. Three-quarters (75 percent) of Republicans say the Democratic policies pose a threat, while nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of Democrats say the same about the GOP’s agenda. Only 30 percent of Democrats say Republican policies are misguided or wrong but not dangerous, while 19 percent of Republicans say the same of Democratic policies
DIVIDED BY THE PRESIDENTIAL PREFERENCE. FROM THE PEW RESEARCH CENTER:
Nearly two-thirds of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (65%) say they would prefer to live where houses are larger and farther apart, but schools, stores and restaurants are several miles away.
Most Democrats and Democratic leaners (58%) would rather live where houses are smaller and closer to each other, but schools, stores and restaurants are in walking distance.
And so where do all these divisions take us?
More than one in three (36 percent) Americans agree with the statement: “The traditional American way of life is disappearing so fast that we may have to use force to save it.” Six in 10 (60 percent) Americans reject the idea that the use of force is necessary, but there is significant partisan disagreement on this question.A majority (56 percent) of Republicans support the use of force as a way to arrest the decline of the traditional American way of life. Forty-three percent of Republicans express opposition to this idea. Significantly fewer independents (35 percent) and Democrats (22 percent) say the use of force is necessary to stop the disappearance of traditional American values and way of life.
Lilliana Mason and Nathan P. Kalmoe:
The most basic finding is that a significant minority of Americans will not reject violence outright. Several of our surveys asked respondents if they believed “it is justified for [their own party] to use violence in advancing their political goals these days.” In a 2017 Cooperative Congressional Election Study, 8 percent of partisans agreed that violence is at least “a little bit” justified. In 2018, it rose to 15 percent and has hovered around there since.
We also asked whether violence would be okay if their party lost the 2020 presidential election. Across nine surveys in 2017-2019, about 20 percent said that it would be at least a little bit okay. In fall 2020, the political science project Bright Line Watch asked: Would violence be justified if opponents acted violently first? Forty percent of partisans said yes, at least a little.