NPR recently put out a report on a study from the American Enterprise Institute which found that, to the surprise of those who made the study, that almost four in ten Republicans support political violence.
The mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol may have been a fringe group of extremists, but politically motivated violence has the support of a significant share of the U.S. public, according to a new survey by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI).
The survey found that nearly three in 10 Americans, including 39% of Republicans, agreed that, “If elected leaders will not protect America, the people must do it themselves, even if it requires violent actions.”
That result was “a really dramatic finding,” says Daniel Cox, director of the AEI Survey Center on American Life. “I think any time you have a significant number of the public saying use of force can be justified in our political system, that’s pretty scary.”
The survey found stark divisions between Republicans and Democrats on the 2020 presidential election, with two out of three Republicans saying President Biden was not legitimately elected, while 98% of Democrats and 73% of Independents acknowledged Biden’s victory.
The level of distrust among Republicans evident in the survey was such that about eight in 10 said the current political system is “stacked against conservatives and people with traditional values.” A majority agreed with the statement, “The traditional American way of life is disappearing so fast that we may have to use force to save it.”
The survey found that to be a minority sentiment — two out of three Americans overall rejected the use of violence in pursuit of political ends – and Cox emphasized that the finding reflected “attitudes and beliefs” rather than a disposition to do something.
“If I believe something, I may act on it, and I may not,” Cox says. “We shouldn’t run out and say, ‘Oh, my goodness, 40% of Republicans are going to attack the Capitol,’ But under the right circumstances, if you have this worldview, then you are more inclined to act in a certain way if you are presented with that option.”
The AEI survey found that partisan divisions were also evident along religious lines. About three in five white evangelicals told the pollsters that Joe Biden was not legitimately elected, that it was not accurate to say Trump encouraged the attack on the Capitol, and that a Biden presidency now has them feeling disappointed, angry or frightened.
On all those questions, Cox says, white evangelicals are “politically quite distinct.” Majorities of white mainline Protestants, Black Protestants, Catholics, followers of non-Christian religions and the religiously unaffiliated all viewed Biden’s victory as legitimate. (source)
Earlier today, I wrote a piece about American thought processes and social morality. If you have not read it already, I recommend that you do, since in it I discuss American though processes for moral formation on “good” versus “bad” people, and how it affects how we see each other.
One of the concerns about American life is that once something is considered “bad”, there is no redeeming it. It happens in small ways, but when it takes on a larger number of people, the effects can be to destroy a man, or even entire groups of people. For example, when Japan and Germany were considered “enemies” of the US in World War II, it lead to the annihilation of German-American cultural life in the US, and the literal internment of many families of Japanese descent, simply because either groups were part of “the bad guys.” As I noted in my previous article, when the US invaded “bad Iraq”, she annihilated the nation to such a point that she committed genocide against the Christians, doing in fourteen years what the Muslims did not do in fourteen centuries.
The Evangelical movement, for a lot of reasons, has a lot of people who do not like it. Indeed, they have been key instigators behind this same above mindset, since for many Evangelicals, the difference between the practice of their religion and being a ‘good American’ is not present. However, even there, as Christians, they have to hold to some moral standards different from those of the mainstream culture, and with the moral gap becoming so wide, no matter how hard they can try, there are certain points at which the moral differences must cause a rip between Evangelical convictions and the social morality.
For decades, Evangelicals have associated themselves with the Republicans. However, the recent election has been particularly egregious, since Trump is not a Christian, but at best a heathen whose life story is a practical embodiment of the seven deadly sins, and yet, he was uniformly supported and encouraged by the Evangelical establishment, and even heralded by some as a messiah figure sent by providence.
But such was not the case. Trump was none of these things, and instead, only showed himself to be a massive liar who was still supported by many Evangelicals even after his lies were exposed.
One of the things that Shoebat.com warned about is that Trump, for all of his rhetoric, did not use his time in office for good. By wasting it and yet speaking with such force and conviction, he furthered a political divide and legitimized speech not previously accepted since the 19th century to be used by his opponents. Sure enough, this is what is happening, for while Biden is not ‘speaking with force’=, many in the Democrat Party are, and they are viciously attacking Trump and his supporters.
Since the Evangelical bloc was so supportive of Trump in a blind way, as Trump is being pushed into a trap and legal trouble, so the Evangelicals as whole could follow.
I am not saying that Evangelicalism will disappear. I am not saying that all “support Trump”. I am saying that Evangelicalism’s chosen association with Trump and his politics may also follow him into Trump’s legal consequences. If Trump is accused of terrorism, then the Evangelical establishment becomes accused of being by association, considering the American mindset, a “terrorist organization” and its adherents “terrorist”. This has the additional effect, in the public mind, of helping form the image that Christians are terrorists of some sort, and that one cannot be a ‘good American’ and a Christian at the same time. Given the current trends of rising secularism and a general dislike of Christianity in any sect, the current political climate just makes it worse.
Decades ago, Evangelicals spoke of the beauties of God and Americanism. However, it may be in the future that the very Americanism becomes something that turns against them, saying that their belief in God is the problem, and they will have to choose between the two. Given the state of Evangelicalism, it would not be a surprise if the majority chose to love the flag of the nation that hangs outside of so many of their churches but not the cross, that so many speak about but one rarely sees, if ever, inside of any of these churches.
This is just for Evangelicals, noting the study, and the Republican political overlap. For the Republican party itself, not surprising, it suggests a continuation of the same trend at Shoebat.com we noted, which is a growth in political violence that may culminate in open conflict.