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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

We Need a Universal Condemnation of Political Violence

My immediate reaction to the Alexandria shootings was to propose a universal condemnation of political violence, as articulated at New York:

In the wake of the horrifying mass shooting of five people at a Republican congressional baseball practice today, we will hear a lot of understandable but not necessarily meaningful talk about overcoming partisan differences. There will also be some opportunistic efforts to use the incident as a weapon to paint legitimate criticism of the president or his party in the lurid colors of this abominable act.

It will be helpful if the former impulses outweigh the latter, and we can only hope the president’s initial remarks on the shootings, and the gestures of unity in the Capitol, are signs of a more careful tone.

What the moment really calls for is something more specific and meaningful: a mutual denunciation of political violence and the potential incitement of political violence by Democrats and Republicans, the right and the left. What happened in Alexandria this morning was not an exercise in “Trump-hatred” or progressive political protest, but an act that violates the most basic norms of a constitutional democracy governed by the rule of law. Left-of-center people — a group that includes myself — need to examine their consciences and their words to ensure that we in no way give even the slightest sense that violence against political opponents might ever be justified. We cannot leave the impression that we think the Alexandria shooter took legitimate grievances just a bit too far.

Instead of pointing fingers at the political factions or parties or ideologies to which the alleged shooter belonged, right-of-center people need to examine their own consciences and words, particularly given the temperature of their own discourse today on social media. A good starting point for conservatives would be renunciation, once and for all, of rationales for the Second Amendment that suggest the population needs to arm itself in order to shoot police officers and members of the military in case a government they consider “tyrannical” appears.

Redrawing the essential line between violent and nonviolent political activity will not always be easy. But if the civil-rights movement, led by women and men suffering from much greater injustices than today’s keyboard warriors of political conflict will ever experience, was able to find and hew to the right side of that line, so can we.

One comment on “We Need a Universal Condemnation of Political Violence

  1. Ray on

    The problem is when you have people out there that have a history of Domestic Abuse they tend to react to attacks. The types of legislation that has been pushed by the White House and GOP Congress. Can easily qualify as attacks on the health and welfare of numerous American citizens.
    Thus, those that are already prone to using physical violence as a way to attempt to solve problems will act accordingly.
    The GOP has for years known that they have a base that is very easily agitated. There are numerous accounts of GOP members acting out with violence. The GOP has always counted on their propaganda that the majority of Liberals, Progressives or whatever are cowardly. Maybe what we have here is the GOP it self actually bought into this propaganda themselves. That is a very dangerous propaganda message to push. No one knows how many people prone to violence if pushed far enough by bullying and or threats will turn to using said violence. There in lies the danger, remember the French elites felt secure enough to suppress the masses and they got a French Revolution.
    The White House and GOP run Congress need to recognize that people can be pushed to far. When you take away their basic needs, then what do they have to lose by remaining civil?


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