Politicians Face Violence and Threats from Voters—and Each Other. Are We Nearing a Civil War?

commentary

(NBC News Think)

A cyclist rides along fencing surrounding the U.S. Capitol that was erected in the wake of the January 6 insurrection in Washington, D.C., July 8, 2021, photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

A cyclist rides along fencing surrounding the U.S. Capitol that was erected in the wake of the January 6 insurrection in Washington, D.C., July 8, 2021

Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

by Brian Michael Jenkins

November 15, 2021

Last week, an anonymous caller told a Republican congressman who voted with Democrats in favor of the infrastructure bill that he and his staff should die. On Monday, Twitter added a warning label to a cartoon video shared by a different Republican congressman in which he assassinated a colleague from across the aisle. On Wednesday, a Black Lives Matter organizer threatened “bloodshed” if New York's mayor-elect reinstated a controversial anti-crime police unit. On Friday, an interview was released in which former President Donald Trump defended rioters calling for the hanging of his vice president.

In January, a new member of Congress vowed to come to work armed. Another admitted that, barricaded in his office as a mob coursed through the halls of the Capitol on Jan. 6, he thought he might have to use his own gun to defend himself. Still another member of Congress had a gun pointed at him during a town hall meeting. And one of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump—fearing for the safety of his wife and children—decided not to seek re-election.…

The remainder of this commentary is available at nbcnews.com.


Brian Michael Jenkins is an army combat veteran and currently serves as senior adviser to the president of the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation. His recent books include Unconquerable Nation, Will Terrorists Go Nuclear?, The Long Shadow of 9/11, and Paths to Destruction.

This commentary originally appeared on NBC News Think on November 14, 2021. Commentary gives RAND researchers a platform to convey insights based on their professional expertise and often on their peer-reviewed research and analysis.