US dispatch: surveys indicate the United States is facing a true political crisis, as growing distrust in democracy turns some towards violence

Tyler Merbler, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons Justin Lindsay is a US National Correspondent for JURIST, and a 3L at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. He previously served 10 years as an Officer in the United States Army.

January 6th forced many Americans to confront domestic political violence for the first time. Visceral images on social media, cable, and broadcast television riveted the country in a way not seen since September 11th. The nation watched thousands of ordinary men and women storm the US Capitol, erect a gallows , and chant for the execution of the vice president. It became impossible for Americans to write off the perpetrators as lone actors who deserved execution . For the first time, Americans needed to know who in their world might do these things.

Several institutions have since taken a critical look at political violence in America and have now begun publishing their findings. These findings and more were discussed recently at the University of Pittsburgh’s recent summit on Preserving Democracy , hosted by Chancellor Mark Nordenberg and featuring Professor Lisa Nelson .

The discussion initially focused on concerns about political violence from veterans. Professor Nelson’s recent study for Pitt/Carnegie Mellon University’s Collaboratory Against Hate returned some surprising results. The study revealed that veteran support for political violence was only half that of the general population. Moreover, it was rising at the same rate as the general population. This is in step with another survey published by the RAND Corporation this September. This is despite the fact that extremist groups cater to veterans , seeing them as a valuable source of legitimacy and skills.

The discussion also turned legalistic, addressing disparate definitions of what constitutes “political violence.” The question, always pertinent, has been brought to the front of public consciousness by […]

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