The good news is that deeply divided Americans agree on at least one thing. The bad news is they share the view that their nearly two-and-a-half-century-old democracy is in danger — and disagree drastically about who is threatening it.
In a remarkable consensus, a new Quinnipiac University poll found that 69 percent of Democrats and 69 percent of Republicans say that democracy is “in danger of collapse.” But one side blames former President Donald J. Trump and his “MAGA Republicans” while the other fingers President Biden and the “socialist Democrats.”
So when the president delivers a warning about the fate of democracy as he did on Thursday night, the public hears two vastly different messages, underscoring deep rifts in American society that make it an almost ungovernable moment in the nation’s history. Not only do Americans diverge sharply over important issues like abortion, immigration and the economy, they see the world in fundamentally different and incompatible ways.
“Sadly, we have gotten away from a common understanding that democracy is a process and does not necessarily guarantee the results your side wants, that even if your team loses an election, you can fight for your policies another day,” said Michael Abramowitz, the president of Freedom House, a group that promotes democracy globally and recently has expressed concern for it at home as well. “That’s a huge challenge for the president, but also for all politicians.” [Continue reading…]
President Biden’s fiery speech in Philadelphia denouncing former President Donald Trump and what he described as “extreme MAGA ideology” has sparked online calls for violence, including death threats against the president, according to documents obtained by Yahoo News.
Biden’s remarks also prompted immediate concerns from senior counterterrorism officials who said they fear that calling Trump supporters extremists would be viewed as a call to arms and would only inflame an already volatile threat environment.
“Too much of what’s happening in our country today is not normal,” Biden said Thursday night at Independence Hall, flanked by two U.S. Marines. “Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic.”
By Friday afternoon, posts on forums popular among white supremacists and far-right extremists called for the assassination of Biden, and named Jewish administration officials including Attorney General Merrick Garland, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas as potential targets. Declarations of civil war were also appearing, according to documents detailing some of the threats.
“On Gab, one user posted a series of violent threats accusing Biden of stealing the election,” according to a threat alert from Site Intelligence Group sent to law enforcement agencies and others on Friday. Trump and many of his supporters have long claimed, without evidence, that the 2020 presidential election won by Biden was stolen from Trump due to widespread voter fraud.
Site Intelligence Group, which tracks online extremism activity, issued several threat alerts detailing calls for violence in response to Biden’s speech. The potential threats were posted in online forums tied to the Proud Boys, neo-Nazis and other extremist groups. [Continue reading…]