A nonprofit called Public Religion Research Institute (“PRRI”) recently conducted its 12th annual American Values Survey, and the results are alarming. While it is evident that many Republicans have lost their minds, this survey shows that they are not totally alone. The survey also revealed that approximately one-third of Republicans believe violence necessary to resolve the problems currently plaguing the U.S. No, violence is part of the problem, but they apparently do not get that. Violence has never solved anything, and the state of relations in the U.S. will similarly not change through violence. The sad thing is that this all stems from the big lie, and that lie continues to create turmoil.
The survey proposed a statement to participants: “Because things have gotten so far off track, true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country.” 18% agreed. That number included 30% Republicans, 11% Democrats, and 17% Independents, which means crazy is not solely limited to Republicans. The CEO and founder of PRRI, who is a sociologist, found the numbers disturbing and shared that the numbers show a “significant and rapidly increasing polarization in the United States.” Things are certainly not getting better, and Republicans — especially Donald Trump — continuing to lean on the big lie is not helping.
Another alarming number revealed by the survey is that 68% of Republicans still believe that the 2020 election was “stolen” from Trump. Conservative media is not helping, as 82% of Fox viewers continue to believe this nonsense. Those viewers refuse to watch any other news outlets or try to compare information. They simply fall for whatever Fox tells them. Heidi Beirich, co-founder of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, believes they are “radicalized.” That is likely the best word to describe people who refuse to look at all sides of a story because the information they are receiving is what they want to hear. Beirich blames Republican leadership. As they continue to parrot this ridiculousness to people who already want to believe it, things continue to worsen. Conservative media and Republicans are not the only problem. We have been overtaken by extremism, which is its own separate problem.
Mark Pitcavage is a historian and authority on extremism, and he has been studying it for years. He believes it is telling that a quarter of the people arrested for invading the Capitol have ties to extremist groups. Even though there were many more who had no such ties, Pitcavage believes these ties will continue to grow, leading to more violence. With that in mind, Yahoo reached out to the FBI regarding their take on domestic terrorism. During his testimony before Congress, Christopher Wray revealed that since spring 2020, the FBI had more than doubled its number of domestic terrorism investigations, proving that violence continues to rise.
Things will likely get a whole lot worse before they get better. That is not being pessimistic; it is being real. The best we can do is hope that things improve but prepare for the worst.
Shirley is a former entertainment writer and has worked in the legal field for over 25 years