The Growing Danger of Political Violence Threatens to Destabilize America

A protester scuffles with a Trump supporter (R) in Kenosha, Wis. on Sept. 1 amid ongoing demonstrations after the shooting by police of Jacob Blake Credit - Kerem Yucel—AFP/Getty Images

According to Time, last week, America dodged a bullet. More precisely, it dodged a kidnapping.

The FBI arrested 13 men who plotted to violently overthrow the government of Michigan, kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer, and “try” her for undisclosed crimes at a hidden location in Wisconsin. It’s hard to gauge the impact of such a plot on the American body politic had the kidnappers actually reached the point of attempting to seize an American governor. It would have been a convulsive event in an already-strained and fractured nation.

But as we pull back our focus from Michigan, the stories grow more grim. This weekend a hired security guard shot and killed a right-wing protester at point-blank range in Denver. In early September in Portland, Oregon, an Antifa-sympathizer allegedly shot and killed another right-wing protester and then was himself gunned down in a confrontation with federal authorities.

The list goes on. Authorities have charged a teenager named Kyle Rittenhouse with murder after he allegedly shot and killed two men (and severely wounded a third) during a night of protests and violence in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Federal officials have charged two members of the so-called “Boogaloo” movement with killing law two law enforcement officers in northern California. The Boogaloo movement is a far-right movement that hopes to ignite a second American civil war.

Moreover, this deadly violence is taking place against the backdrop of a steady drumbeat of urban unrest, including widespread acts of arson and vandalism. American polarization, fear, and rage have grown so great that a recent poll showed that Americans believe we’re two-thirds of the way to a civil war. Another poll, conducted in June, indicated that more than one-third of registered voters believed a civil war was “likely” within the next five years.

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