Only the GOP Celebrates Political Violence

Both parties suffer partisan bloodshed. One glorifies it.By David Frum

Updated at 2:40 p.m. ET on October 29, 2022

In March 2020, a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives posted a video message addressed to two Democratic political candidates that issued a threatening challenge if they passed laws he did not like. Standing in his Capitol Hill office, Ken Buck of Colorado’s Fourth District gesturedtoward a rifle mounted on the wall.

“I have a message for Joe Biden and Beto O’Rourke. If you want to take everyone’s AR-15 in America, why don’t you swing by my office in Washington, D.C., and start with this one.” At this point, Buck reached for a stars-and-stripes-decorated rifle mounted on the wall. He brandished the weapon, smiled what he must have imagined was a tough-guy smile, and said, “Come and take it.”

But if both Republicans and Democrats, left and right, suffer political violence, the same cannot be said of those who celebrate political violence. That’s not a “both sides” affair in 2020s America.

You don’t see Democratic House members wielding weapons in videos and threatening to shoot candidates who want to cut capital-gains taxes or slow the growth of Medicare. Democratic candidates for Senate do not post video fantasies of hunting and executing political rivals, or of using a firearm to discipline their children’s romantic partners. It’s not because of Democratic members that Speaker Nancy Pelosi installed metal detectors to bar firearms from the floor of the House. No Democratic equivalent exists of Donald Trump, who regularly praises and encourages violence as a normal tool of politics, most recently against his own party’s Senate leader, Mitch McConnell. As the formerly Trump-leaning Wall Street Journal editorialized on October 2: “It’s all too easy to imagine some fanatic taking Mr. Trump seriously and literally, and attempting to kill Mr. McConnell. Many supporters took Mr. Trump’s rhetoric about former Vice President Mike Pence all too seriously on Jan. 6.”


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