The Daily Escape:
Sunset, Jefferson, NH – 2021 photo by Dorothy Benjamin Bell
Long time blog reader David P. commented on Thursday’s column about the demographics of the Capitol insurrectionists:
“This analysis suggests that they look like the folks who the rest of us see at the grocery store, gas pump or PTA meeting (especially if we live in a county where Trump scored 40-60 % of the vote). Not “those people,” but “our people”…..neighbors.”
Following up on the idea that these are our neighbors, Political Violence at a Glance (PVG) says that we should be focusing on movements not groups. Movements are often the lifeblood of militant groups, but the groups often die out before the movements. The movement can remain, inspiring both groups and individuals to act on their own.
And PVG says that recent violence in the US has tended to come more from individuals linked to broader movements.
Does this compute with what we saw at the Capitol? We learned that only 10% of the rioters were members of militias or militant groups. That means 90% were as David P. says, our neighbors, albeit our right-wing neighbors.
Let’s link this idea up with the findings of a new poll by the conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI). The AEI conducted a survey of 2,016 US adults between Jan. 21 and Jan. 30. They found that politically motivated violence has the support of a significant share of the US public: (emphasis by Wrongo)
“….nearly three in 10 Americans, including 39% of Republicans, agreed that, “If elected leaders will not protect America, the people must do it themselves, even if it requires violent actions.”
The use of violence has more support among Republicans than Democrats. Only 17% of Democrats support taking violent action along with 31% of Independents. Here are more findings:
- 66% of Republicans say Biden was not legitimately elected:
- 75% of high-school educated Republicans don’t think Biden won the election.
- About 60% of white evangelicals said that Biden was not legitimately elected, and don’t think that Trump encouraged the attack on the Capitol. These views were not held by most white mainline Protestants, Black Protestants, or Catholics.
- 27% of white evangelicals said it was mostly or completely accurate to say Trump “has been secretly fighting a group of child sex traffickers that include prominent Democrats and Hollywood elites.”
- 55% of Republicans support the use of force to prevent a further decline of the traditional American way of life.
The AEI poll shows us that Republicans have become a fringe group of extremists, embracing conspiracy theories that support their basic world view that everyone is against them. Their worldview persists even when it’s clear that our political system is heavily stacked in favor of conservative white people: The Senate, the federal courts, Republican gerrymandering of state legislatures, and the most-viewed media.
So, how are these sentiments playing in the show trial happening in the US Senate? This is the oath that each Senator took:
“I solemnly swear that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of Donald J. Trump, now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws: so help me God.”
So far, the evidence to convict in the trial is overwhelming, but it’s certain that the Senate won’t convict Trump. This is because many of these so-called “impartial” jurors acted throughout the post-election period as accomplices to Trump’s Big Lie about the election. They have no defense. There is only complicity, whether motivated by their fear of their base, or by sharing in the conspiracy
And the House managers have forced every Republican Senator to feel that complicity. The Republicans reflect what the AEI poll shows about their constituents. They are now a Party largely defined by conspiracy theories and irrationality.
The Senators sitting as jurors are facing this choice:
Photo by Erin Scott for Reuters
JFK’s 1956 book “Profiles in Courage” was only 272 pages, mostly because political courage is rare. Politicians want to be re-elected, so they have no intention of convicting Trump. They will be complicit in his effort at sedition. But they must be confronted; they can’t be let off the hook.
After Trump is exonerated, each Republican Senator must face an uphill fight to win reelection. This cannot be dropped down the memory hole.
Republicans won’t voluntarily morph into a responsible governing force simply by walking away from Trump. Think about those white male voters who didn’t get beyond high school: They prefer conspiracy and violence against their enemies.
Will Republicans confront the truth about these people? You know, their neighbors and our neighbors, or will they continue to surrender to them?