About Political Violence


Last week Nancy Pelosi’s husband was attacked in his home by a man who was looking for the Speaker of the House. This despicable attack has been widely condemned, and it is right that this is so. What I’ve seen, however, is an inability of a swath of the GOP to call out their own base for this act. To be fair, there have been statements of outright condemnation of violence without equivocation, for which I am grateful, but there is also a significant amount of “both sides-ism” which coddles up to the rabid segment of their own base.

Here’s the both sides-ism in question,

“Well, look, you can go back to the beginning. This started back in the summer of 2020, right, when you saw cities burning, you saw not a whole lot of accountability there. The line for folks that were disagreeing with what might have been happening, not happy with what’s happening in their communities, the line completely moved with very little accountability. And that set kind of a new standard in a – in a very dangerous way, and then that carries over into the politics and what happened in 2020, the insanity of what we saw on January 6th. What has happened to Steve Scalise, that was years before 2020, the threats on Justice Kavanaugh – so – Gabby Giffords. I mean, there doesn’t seem to be an end to this. It’s on both sides of the aisle. But, look, people have to just take the heat down here. I mean, this is America. This is one of the most amazing places on the planet earth. We should all wake up and be grateful. We can disagree and have heated arguments of course, but when you cross that line into violence it does your cause no good, it does the system no good, and it just brings everything to a more fragile state.”

Let’s talk about this.

Now, folks do have to acknowledge that there are violent folks on the political left. When the GOP Baseball team was attacked in 2017 I witnessed people in forums complaining that the gunman’s aim was too poor. The act was evil, those who cheered it were in league with evil. This is not something that is up for debate.

Equating the protests in 2020 with that, however, is GOP fear-mongering at its best. Protesting repeated systemic oppression is not political violence. Nor are calls to defund police 1 or saying, “Black Lives Matter.” Being beaten up for protesting this oppression, by folks representing the institution which is being protested, is. The riots which followed in the wake of the George Floyd murder were not political violence, either. It was a cathartic expression of rage. It was self-destructive and harmful, but not political violence. It wasn’t literally trying to kill our representatives or undermine the very system of government.

And, in the wake of the GOP Baseball shooting Paul Ryan and Nancy Pelosi got up in front of Congress and issued a resounding condemnation of the attack–the entire chamber giving a standing ovation when Paul Ryan stated, “an attack on one of us is an attack of all of us.” Nancy Pelosi gave a heartfelt message of thanks for Paul Ryan’s words.

I want to live in a world without political violence, but when it happens, I want to live in the world where that moment in the House Chamber is how all people of good conscience respond.

But we don’t live in a world without political violence, and five years after that moment in the House Chamber, we don’t live in a world where people of good conscience do what those two did that day. Instead we live in a world where stoking rabid anger and fear is seen as a pathway to power. And we keep sucking up this poison.

Aside from the both sides-ism, there is a wash of GOP candidates, office-holders, and notables trying to minimize the attack by spreading conspiracy theories. Donald Trump Jr. mocked Mr. Pelosi by retweeting a photo of men’s underwear and a hammer captioned, “Got my Paul Pelosi Halloween costume ready 2.” And the GOP Gubernatorial Candidate in Arizona made the attack a campaign point.

So, yes, there is political violence at the left and right ends of our political spectrum. But this does not make the issue equal.

  • It wasn’t the far left that attacked the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.
  • It’s not the far left which has made refusing to acknowledge the results of an election a key point of identification 3.
  • It’s not the far left which is refusing to say they’ll concede the election if they lose on November 8.
  • It’s not the far left that’s becoming committed to Christian Nationalism.
  • It’s not the far left that’s sucked into a world of conspiracy theories and talking about “the gathering storm.”

That’s the right. And it’s not even the far right any more, it is the GOP. And folks need to say, “Enough.”

I am not a Democrat. I’ve been registered to vote as an independent since I was 18 years old, and that will not change. I believe the two party system is a great danger to this republic, and we’re seeing it play out in front of us. One of the two parties has determined that it no longer wants to share a duopoly on the levers of power and is shooting the moon for total power. The fact that churches are celebrating this shift to authoritarianism, because they feel it’ll get them what they want, fills me with great shame.

We have, as a collective whole, to put a stop to our current slide to fascism. No excuses. Stand with all the folks who will be “othered” if this iteration of the GOP gets their way–those of different faiths, your LGBTQ neighbors, women who want a say for themselves, people of color, and immigrants who are tired of being villainized. Get out and vote.

  1. Even though the slogan is unclear and most of the people shouting it don’t know what its supposed to mean. 
  2. No, I’m not linking to that garbage. 
  3. People are calling Mitch McConnell a RINO. You can’t make this stuff up.