OP-ED: Threats to Democracy


Photo by Owen Davis

On Oct. 28, 2022, Paul Pelosi, the husband of Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, was viciously attacked by alleged suspect David DePape in a brutal assault with a hammer. Five years earlier, Steve Scalise, a Republican Congressman, was similarly attacked at a charity baseball game, where Scalise suffered near-critical injuries that required several surgeries to heal from. These attacks mark a disturbing trend in recent US history and act as a reminder of modern political unrest.

Today, there exists a great partisanship divide between the US’s major parties, as exemplified by strained relations between the Republican and Democratic groups. From the media, to political parties’ news, to social movements, the US’s toxic political environment is apparent to all, particularly when contextualized by our country’s previous two presidential elections.

The American mentality has changed from a disagreeing, but cooperative whole to a hostile, unforgiving mindset, treating our government as an “us versus them” situation. This reflects the muddied nature of politics today, where information and threats are incited as weapons against those perceived to be “enemies.”

In this backdrop of political violence, the very principles of our country, in abiding by the decisions of the majority, are endangered. From our country’s founding to our modern-day policies, the US has stood strong due to our ability to compromise and accept opinions that differ from our own. Take the Great Compromise as an example, which was the agreement that solidified the Congress bicameral system, won the support of all political stripes, and stood the test of time over two hundred years. Cooperation like that is a reminder of where our country should stand and what systems are at risk from these attacks.

Namely, our basic system of democracy is threatened. Our stability relies on the goodwill and confidence of the American people in our government, something that is only destabilized through only the radical actions of a few. And without that stability, the trust we have in our leaders will slowly disintegrate into chaos and disorder.

Our government is ruled by the people, not by mobs. “I do not deny the possibility that the people may err in an election,” President Lincoln conceded in 1861, “But if they do, the true cure is in the next election.” We will feel wronged by a given policy from time to time, and it is in our right, even obligation, to campaign peacefully to change others’ minds. Yet these assaults threaten the very foundation of American democracy in a ruling by the majority. Neither threats nor violence should ever plague our government, regardless of one’s political affiliations or beliefs. Across all regions, across all states, Americans must unite to recognize that we are a community and give bipartisan support to condemn these violent acts.