In the wake of the attack on Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Democrats protested that rhetoric from the right was, at least partially, to blame. Republicans immediately responded, calling the accusations unfounded. They pointed to attacks on Republicans to show that both sides have their nuts. The two, though, are not the same. 

We don’t really have to say anything other than “January 6” to debunk the GOP argument. Rhetoric from the right, including the President of the United States, incited a riot that attacked the our government and attempted to interrupt the peaceful transfer of power. It resulted in the deaths of six people. Republicans always point to Stacy Abrams’ statement that the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial election was stolen from her, but no mobs attacked the state capitol and no prominent Democrats came out claiming Brian Kemp is an illegitimate governor. So, no the two are not the same. 

After the assault on Pelosi’s husband, during which the assailant was yelling “Where’s Nancy?,” Republicans point to the shooting of Steve Scalise, the threat to Brett Kavanaugh, and an attempted attack on New York Republican gubernatorial nominee Lee Zeldin as evidence that Democrats inspire violence as much as Republicans. Or maybe their point is that nuts come out all of the time and rhetoric doesn’t lead to hostile actions. Who knows, but I didn’t see any elected Democrats mocking Scalise or Kavanaugh or Zeldin. GOP candidates and Members of Congress and even Trump, Jr., shit-posted memes and conspiracy theories and Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin made a snarky comment about sending Pelosi home to be with her husband. Nobody in the GOP is prominently criticizing those comment or posts because they don’t want to alienate the Republican base.

Only one party has fetishized guns. Virtually all GOP candidates have photos of themselves armed or shooting. They’ve been running ads for years with targets on Democrats. Minnesota Congressman Tom Emmer posted a tweet of him shooting a gun with the hashtag #firepelosi just days before the attack on the Speaker’s husband. Emmer says he’s just exercising his Second Amendment rights. Republicans have bastardized the amendment to make it a threat, not a right. 

Also, only one party has an armed wing. The Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, and dozens of lesser known militia openly associate themselves with Trump and the GOP. Mainstream Republicans are largely silent about the affiliation. They certainly aren’t vocally dismissive.

This election cycle, the right-wing militia groups are placing themselves outside of voting locations, armed and dressed in tactical gear, intimidating voters who might disagree with them. Again, they claim to just be exercising their Second Amendment rights. In reality, they are there to shut down the First Amendment rights of people they consider enemies. 

Democrats and progressives have plenty of flaws. The most extreme elements of the left embrace anti-democratic policies and strategies, but only one political party has ignored violence within its ranks and espouses anti-democratic as part of their political rhetoric. Only one party consistently fails to hold those who attack our political system accountable, making up lame excuses for why they do so. And only one side uses the Constitution justify the threat of violence against their political opponents.  

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