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Americans show increased support for political violence after Jan. 6 attack

A new poll from The Washington Post and the University of Maryland shows a historic percentage of Americans say anti-government violence is sometimes justifiable.

Polling conducted nearly a year after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol showed a record-high share of Americans believe violent action against the government is sometimes warranted. 

About 1 in 3 Americans believe this type of violence is justifiable at times, according to a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll published Saturday. That’s the highest percentage of Americans to feel that way since the question was first posed in various polls more than two decades ago.

The violent insurrection helped mainstream political violence, doing potentially irreparable harm to our electoral process.

The number of adults who said violence is sometimes acceptable is up from 23 percent in 2015 and 16 percent in 2010 according to polls by CBS News and The New York Times.

Roughly 40 percent of Republicans, 41 percent of independents and 23 percent of Democrats said anti-government violence is sometimes justifiable, according to the Washington Post poll. The racial divide in responses was even more stark than the political divide, with 40 percent of whites calling violence justified at times compared to just 18 percent of Blacks. 

As many observers warned, the insurrection attempt last January in support of then-President Donald Trump effectively promoted political violence as a means to an end, especially for conservatives. When you consider the events that have happened since, there’s no wonder how some people have come to see merit in it. The meager sentences handed down to many of the Jan. 6 rioters have done little to discourage wannabes from pondering similar acts. And conservative members of the House — from Georgia's Marjorie Taylor Greene to Alabama's Mo Brooks and Arizona's Paul Gosar —  have made political terror part of their platform by overtly stoking violence against their Democratic colleagues.

This recent polling reifies what so many liberals have claimed from the moment attackers breached the U.S. Capitol: The violent insurrection helped mainstream political violence, doing potentially irreparable harm to our electoral process.

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