Political violence, encouraged by hateful rhetoric, was thought to have reached a crescendo with the January 6th insurrection at the capitol. Yet that horrific day was not the end. Threats against Members of Congress are more than ten times as high as just five years ago.
Current Members of Congress are contributing to this climate of violence. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) tweeted a video that included altered animation showing him striking Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) with a sword.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) indicated support for executing prominent Democrats in 2018 and 2019 before running for Congress with ads featuring violent imagery and innuendos. Her vitriolic rhetoric has continued since being elected and achieving a national platform.
After the violent attack against the husband of Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA) tweeted a doctored photo of Pelosi with a black eye and joked about the attack.
Extremist views and rhetoric that was once only found on rightwing media outlets are now easily embraced by the GOP. Issues surrounding guns and choice are being used to deepen the increasing political divide. The messaging — subtle and not — can and has led to violence.
FL Gov. Ron DeSantis has come to the defense of the man recently accused of killing a man in the NY subway. He has been tweeting to his supporters to take back the streets for “law abiding citizens.” With anger and racial acrimony running high in this country, messaging like this can lead to further political violence.
This week, the staff of Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-VA) was attacked in his district office. Immediately there was a call for more security for Members of Congress. Bubble wrapping our elected officials will not keep them safe. The only solution is for the GOP to turn down the heated rhetoric.
Elected officials make sacrifices to serve our country and to protect our democracy for us and for future generations. They should not have to risk their life nor should their staff suffer violent attacks in the name of public service, especially when it is being driven by GOP lawmakers.