Was the Capitol Riot Really the Opening Battle of a Civil War?

Although it was shocking and embarrassing, Joe Biden’s victory in the Capitol riot of last year did not prevent him from becoming president. It was more like a tantrum than an imminent coup, and the assault on Capitol was chaotic and careless. This was an infuriating spectacle that the United States witnessed, and it served as a fitting conclusion to Trump’s ridiculous presidency. However, violence and vandalism only delayed the final ratification of election results.

Jimmy Carter claims however that an “unscrupulous mob” stormed Capitol, almost preventing democratic power transfer. This is a New York TimesCarter wrote an essay entitled “I Fear for Our Democracy” in which he stated that the “insurrection threat” to our government continues to threaten it. He writes, “Our nation is on the edge of an ever-widening hole.” We are in real danger of civil war and the loss our beloved democracy if we don’t take immediate action. This Times editorial board likewise warns that “the Republic faces an existential threat from a movement that is openly contemptuous of democracy and has shown that it is willing to use violence to achieve its ends.”

The alarming picture of an American nation at the brink of civil war is supposedly supported by polling data that shows Americans not only are more divided than ever, but they also tend to settle political conflicts with violence. Carter, for example, cites a January 2021 survey in which “36 percent of Americans—almost 100 million adults across the political spectrum—agree[d]”The American traditional way of living is in danger. We may need to use force to stop it.”

 Washington PostThe University of Maryland Poll conducted last month is also alarming people who view the Capitol riot in the future as a sign of bullets replacing ballots. Are you unsure if it’s ever justifiable for citizens to act violently against the government or not? The survey was completed. The survey asked for a third of the responses, which included two-fifths from Republicans. CouldJustifiable. Although this sentiment was the basis of our country’s founding, PostJennifer Rubin, columnist, saw these results as evidence that democracy is indeed on the ballot in this year’s election.

An article published in September by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences challenges the notion that a substantial minority of Americans—more than two-fifths, according to some reports—condone political violence. Sean Westwood (Dartmouth Political Scientist) and his coauthors contend that the “documented support” for political violence was illusory. They claim it is the result of unclear questions, confused definitions, disengaged respondents, and ambiguous terms.

Westwood et al. According to Westwood and others, there has been an increase in partisan animosity. Over the past few decades, “affectivepolarization” has “increased significant.” According to them, Americans may not be as ideologically divided today than they were in the past. However, Americans hold more negative views towards the political opposition than members of their own party. Yet, evidence shows that affective polarization doesn’t cause or correlate to increases in political violence support and it is usually unrelated to the political outcome. What are we supposed to think of the claims that over a third believe that political violence is justifiable?

“Despite media attention,” Westwood et al. Westwood et al. note that “political violence” is very rare and accounts for less than 1 percent of all violent hate crime in America. According to them, self-reported attitudes towards political violence can be bias upwards as a result of “disengaged respondents”, differing interpretations regarding questions relating to violence and personal dispositions to violence that have nothing to do with politics.”

Westwood et al. According to Westwood et al., the existing support estimates for partisan violence may be 30-900% overestimated depending on how they are asked. Their study found that “nearly all” respondents supported partisan violence.[ed]Political violence suspects can be charged with a crime. They stated that these findings “indicate that even though recent acts of violence have dominated the news media, it does not indicate a new age of violent conflict.”

These are based off three surveys that Westwood Respondents were presented with scenarios that involved different types of violence. These situations varied in intensity and motivation. Their conclusion is that “ambiguous questions in surveys cause an overestimation about support for violence.” The prior studies only asked for general support of violence, without providing context. Respondents are left to deduce what “violence” actually means. The researchers also noted that prior work failed to differentiate between violence support generally and political violence support, which makes it appear like political violence was unique and novel.

A third problem they identify is that “prior survey questions force respondents to select a response without providing a neutral midpoint or a ‘don’t know’ option,” which “causes disengaged respondents…to select an arbitrary or random response.” These arbitrary responses or random ones tend to overstate the support for violence, since “current violence-support levels are coded in such a way that only four out of five options indicate acceptance of violence.”

Is it possible to fix these flaws? All three of the surveys Westwood and co. All three surveys that Westwood et al.[ed]Both political and nonpolitical violence.” Although a significant minority of those surveyed disagreed, this number was overstated by the respondents who were considered disengaged based their inability to recall information from the scenarios they saw.

In January 2021, the two first surveys described actual instances of violence in politics. One involved a Democratic driver being charged with striking a group in Florida that were trying to register voters. The other was a Republican driver who drove his car through Democratic protestors in Oregon.

A fifth of respondents in both instances said that the attack was justified. When partisan details were not included, the level of support was basically the same. However, disengaged respondents were more inclined to support the attacks than those who had been engaged. The driver’s actions were justified by 38 percent of the disengaged respondent, as opposed to only 12 percent for engaged respondents. If the partisan details are omitted, then the numbers would be approximately 45 percent to 11 percent.

Participants were randomly asked to choose from a “story with either a Republican or Democratic shooter engaged in politically motivated violence, or an apolitical murder.” The third survey was conducted in April. Given the extent of the violence involved, it is not surprising that far fewer people said the shooting was justified. Ten percent of the respondents believed the shooter in the political scenario was justifiable, and only 7 percent thought the apolitical shooting was. However, there was still a significant gap between disengaged respondents and those who were engaged: 34% vs. 4% in the political scenario; and 26% vs. 3% in the apolitical.

When they asked the more specific question, “Should the driver/shooter face criminal charges?” The difference between disengaged and engaged respondents was dramatic. “Across our conditions,” Westwood et al. According to Westwood et al., 83%-100% of those who completed the engagement tests want the suspect accused in politically motivated violent crimes charged. However, 81%-94% want the suspect arrested in politically motivated violent crimes.

Additional evidence has been provided to show that responses given by those who did not pass the engagement test are inconsistent with their real views. “When presented with a dichotomous question and no ‘don’t know’ option,” the researchers report, “disengaged respondents essentially randomly split their responses between the two choices, while engaged respondents overwhelmingly report that the driver is not justified….When disengaged respondents are presented with five choices that include a neutral midpoint, the modal response is the midpoint with the remaining respondents splitting their responses between the remaining four categories.”

This study, which suggests that polls often exaggerate support for violence political, also cast doubt on the notion that people are motivated by political reasons. Westwood et al.This study also included an earlier question: “How much do feel it’s justified for?” [members of your party]”To use violence to advance their political goals?” You have five options, from “not at any” to “a tremendous amount.”

Westwood and al. argued that the “measure of politically violent” predicted support for violence in our vignettes, but it was not a reliable predictor. It also predicted support for “apolitical acts” of violence, Westwood et al. They think “the evidence is clear” that  “the survey measure…captures general tolerance for violence and not political violence specifically.”

The dire warnings of literal partisan war should be taken as seriously as those claiming that the Capitol Riot “almost succeeded in overturning” the presidential election results. Westwood, Westwood, and other observers stated that the results showed there is no broad support for violent political action. conclude. The contrary is true. We found that people strongly reject acts of violence, regardless of whether they’re political. We have evidence that other studies reached different conclusions due to measurement and design flaws.