I recently asked, in light of the free speech implications of the second federal Trump indictment, when the price is too high for those who seek to jail the former president.
The chilling answer is found in a new report out of the University of Chicago showing that almost 12 percent of the population, representing 30 million people, believe that violence is warranted to prevent Trump from assuming the presidency. That is almost double the number who believe that violence is warranted to ensure that Trump does become president.
30 million say “use of force” justified to prevent another Trump presidency, compared to 18 million who say same about restoring Trump presidency, per @ProfessorPape on @FaceTheNation. pic.twitter.com/KBHZO9cNsd— Brent Baker 🇺🇦 (@BrentHBaker) August 13, 2023
As discussed in The Guardian, the Chicago Project on Security & Threats survey found many Americans are embracing violence as an option for political change.
We have watched as rage has risen in the country. It is often celebrated by one side or the other. I previously discussed how a scene like the recent confrontation on the floor of the Tennessee House perfectly captured our “age of rage.” Protesters filled the capitol building to protest the failure to pass gun-control legislation. Three Democratic state representatives — Justin Jones from Nashville, Justin Pearson from Memphis, and Gloria Johnson of Knoxville — were unwilling to yield to the majority. They disrupted the floor proceedings with a bullhorn and screaming at their colleagues.
It is a scene familiar to many of us in academia, where events are regularly canceled by those who shout down others.
The three members yelled “No action, no peace” and “Power to the people” as their colleagues objected to their stopping the legislative process. Undeterred, the three refused to allow “business as usual” to continue.
Nobel Laureate Albert Camus once said, “Insurrection is certainly not the sum total of human experience but … it is our historic reality.” Those words came to mind when Tennessee’s House of Representatives expelled two members accused of disrupting legislative proceedings in what some called an “insurrection” or a “mutiny.”
Only a few days before the Tennessee House floor fight, a confrontation occurred off the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington which captured perfectly this new political reality.
Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) was shown on videotape screaming about gun control in the Capitol as his colleagues left the floor following a vote. Various Democratic members, including former House Majority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), tried to calm Bowman. However, when Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) asked Bowman to stop yelling, Bowman shouted back: “I was screaming before you interrupted me” — which could go down as the epitaph for our age.
The problem is that political figures on both sides are attempting to harness this rage. They are playing a dangerous game. Trump’s inflammatory tweets are an example. Likewise, former Democratic National Committee deputy chair Keith Ellison, now the Minnesota attorney general, once said Antifa would “strike fear in the heart” of Trump. This was after Antifa had been involved in numerous acts of violence and its website was banned in Germany. His son, Minneapolis City Council member Jeremiah Ellison, declared his allegiance to Antifa as riots raged in his city last summer.
Unleashing such rage is difficult to control and often those leading the mob find themselves later pursued by it. This is why, during the French Revolution, the journalist Jacques Mallet Pan warned, “Like Saturn, the revolution devours its children.”