With midterm election results beginning to resonate with the public and politicians preparing to enter the presidential election, the risk of danger when being politically active is a concern that politicians and U.S. citizens across the nation are facing daily.
Particularly in relation to the last two presidential elections of 2016 and 2020, political polarization, isolation and action has become increasingly relevant to American politics, such as the January 6th Capitol Riots, the Black Lives Matter movement and more.
In the midst of the 2022 midterm election, this pattern seems to potentially be resurfacing with instances of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s husband being attacked, an attempt to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer and a man throwing a beer can at Senator Ted Cruz.
Has political activity become something that the public and U.S. politicians need to worry about? If so, how has this pattern been brought about and how do we begin to get rid of it?
“There’s an important distinction to have between lone wolf actors and some kind of an organized attempt to inflict some kind of bodily harm on a member of congress or any politician/public official for that matter,” said Nerses Kopalyan, associate professor of the political science department at UNLV.
“The case with speaker Pelosi’s husband appears to have been a lone wolf issue, whereas January 6th was a lot more organized and orchestrated,” said Kopalyan. “At this point, I haven’t seen any systemic patterns where we are going to see an increase in political violence, but I would qualify it as having gone through a period of intensity.”
Kopalyan expressed his belief that political activism will continue to grow increasingly healthy as politics become less polarizing. He described Nevada to be a perfect example this current election with high engagement in split ticket voting.
Nour Benjelloun, marketing director of the UNLV Young Democrats, described an incident where Young Democrats had congressman Horsford on campus and people chased after him, yelling at his face.
Zoe Dockery, Vice President of UNLV Young Republicans, said the Young Republicans have luckily not yet experienced any political violence on campus.
Both Dockery and Benjelloun conveyed the belief that it is important to get students politically involved for the sake of our nation’s future political state. Additionally, both Young Republicans and Young Democrats place the well-being and safety of speakers and attendees as a top priority.
Overall, it appears that the U.S. is not currently facing a serious uptick in acts of political violence, but more so a reaction to entering back into normalcy after the elections amongst COVID-19 in 2020.
Additionally, in order to continue on the path of stabilizing safety of political participation, it is vital for U.S. citizens to become politically involved, politically informed and avoid party-line voting.
As the nation begins to near the presidential election of 2024, that will be the significant post marker to analyze whether our country is capable of taking strides towards significant political improvement and civic participation.