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Partisan Rage and the Threat of Violence

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In the tense weeks leading to a fateful election, Americans have begun to worry about more tense weeks after the voting.

A disputed outcome might even inspire fighting in the streets, say scholars at the Hoover Institution, the Hudson Institute and the University of Maryland. Surveys show 1 in 5 Americans with a strong political affiliation saying they would consider endorsing violence if the other party won the presidency. Republicans and Democrats report similar percentages—20 percent and 19 percent, respectively—who feel either “a lot” or “a great deal” of justification for violence if their party lost in November.

This willingness to attack the other side physically, and not just rhetorically, centers on no particular difference on specific issues, but reflects the unfocused, apocalyptic partisan rage that characterizes this troubled moment in our history. In the days ahead, all politicians and pundits should work to calm these explosive impulses, pleading for civic peace and overriding patriotism.

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