Political Violence

April 29, 2022 • Volume 32, Issue 14
Is U.S. democracy endangered by domestic extremists?
By Jonathan Broder


When Donald Trump's supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to block certification of Joe Biden's presidential election, they ended America's 223-year run of peacefully transferring power. Most Republicans downplay the significance of what happened on Jan. 6, 2021, while Democrats and a few Republicans demand accountability for what they call an attempted coup. Many observers fear the Capitol riot presages greater political violence as November's midterm elections draw closer. They cite new laws in Republican-led states that make voting more difficult, especially for people of color, and in some cases place responsibility for voter tallies in the hands of partisan officials. Equally worrisome, they say, are polls showing that two-thirds of GOP voters believe Trump's debunked claim that fraud caused him to lose the election, and one-third approve of violence to achieve political goals. Experts say the United States risks a meltdown of its democratic institutions — and possibly even a new civil war. But others are not convinced the country is at serious risk of a violent crack-up.

Photo of insurrectionists storming the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on January 6, 2021. (AFP/Getty Images/Joseph Prezioso)
A supporter of President Donald Trump urges others to storm the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, to prevent Congress from certifying Joe Biden's election as president. Many observers warn of more civil unrest if future election disputes arise, but others say U.S. history is rife with political violence and that democracy is not at risk. (AFP/Getty Images/Joseph Prezioso)
ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Violence in America
Apr. 29, 2022  Political Violence
Jun. 01, 2018  Gang Violence
Oct. 09, 2015  Fighting Gangs
Feb. 14, 2014  Media Violence
Nov. 15, 2013  Domestic Violence
Feb. 08, 2013  Preventing Hazing
Jan. 06, 2006  Domestic Violence
Oct. 31, 2003  Serial Killers
Sep. 03, 1993  Suburban Violence
Apr. 27, 1979  Violence in the Family
Jun. 05, 1968  Violence in American Life
Campaigns and Elections
Campaigns and Elections
Civil Rights and Civil Liberty Issues
Civil Rights Movement
Civil Rights: African Americans
Civil Rights: Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Issues
Congress Actions
Conservatism and Liberalism
Consumer Behavior
Consumer Protection and Product Liability
Crime and Law Enforcement
Criminal Law Procedure and Due Process
Federal Courts
Freedom of Information
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General Social Trends
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Infectious Diseases
Internet and Social Media
Investigations and Discipline
Journalism and the News
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Party Politics
Party Politics
Powers and History of the Presidency
Protest Movements
Race and Hate Crimes
Radio and Television
Sentencing and Corrections
Supreme Court History and Decisions