They say if you don’t vote you can’t complain. They’re wrong. Complaining is prior to voting. It is deeper and more powerful than voting. It is the original act of politics. Before there was democracy, there was sitting around the campfire complaining about the way the headman allocated the shares of mastodon meat. Bellyaching about the boss is more than a political right. It is a human right.
And so, in Reason‘s 2020 election issue, we are here to complain. The candidates from the major parties are subpar. They display troubling authoritarian tendencies. Their records in office—one long, one short—are underwhelming and frequently self-contradictory. Their actions consistently fail to match their rhetoric. If they agree on one thing, it is that they have the right, and perhaps even the obligation, to tell you what to do in the bedroom and in the boardroom, in the streets and in the sheets. If they agree on a second thing, it is the necessity of spending ever-larger sums of taxed and borrowed money in pursuit of ever-vaguer goals. They helm parties that are similarly compromised and hypocritical.
“Our research, which we’re reporting here for the first time, shows an upswing in the past few months in the number of Americans—both Democrats and Republicans—who said they think violence would be justified if their side loses the upcoming presidential election,” reads a Thursday article.
The outlet noticed an uptick in the number of respondents who say they would condone violence committed by members of their own political party – which coincided with a willingness by both Democrats and Republicans to justify violence as a means to achieve political goals.
Here’s what Politico found (emphasis ours):
• Among Americans who identify as Democrat or Republican, 1 in 3 now believe that violence could be justified to advance their parties’ political goals—a substantial increase over the last three years.
• In September, 44 percent of Republicans and 41 percent of Democrats said there would be at least “a little” justification for violence if the other party’s nominee wins the election. Those figures are both up from June, when 35 percent of Republicans and 37 percent of Democrats expressed the same sentiment.
• Similarly, 36 percent of Republicans and 33 percent of Democrats said it is at least “a little” justified for their side “to use violence in advancing political goals”—up from 30 percent of both Republicans and Democrats in June.
• There has been an even larger increase in the share of both Democrats and Republicans who believe there would be either “a lot” or “a great deal” of justification for violence if their party were to lose in November. The share of Republicans seeing substantial justification for violence if their side loses jumped from 15 percent in June to 20 percent in September, while the share of Democrats jumped from 16 percent to 19 percent.
• These numbers are even higher among the most ideological partisans. Of Democrats who identify as “very liberal,” 26 percent said there would be “a great deal” of justification for violence if their candidate loses the presidency compared to 7 percent of those identifying as simply “liberal.” Of Republicans who identify as “very conservative,” 16 percent said they believe there would be “a great deal” of justification for violence if the GOP candidate loses compared to 7 percent of those identifying as simply “conservative.” This means the ideological extremes of each party are two to four times more apt to see violence as justified than their party’s mainstream members.
Notably, those at the ideological extremes are more likely to condone violence, with ‘very liberal’ respondents over 50% more likely than ‘very conservative’ individuals to do so.