In a New York Times column, historian Matthew Dallek of George Washington University considers the attack on Paul Pelosi in the context of Republicans’ continued embrace of extreme ideologies.

The biggest change the party has made is that it is now tolerating and integrating conspiracy theories and extremism into its governing coalition, Dallek finds, reversing the stance of previous leaders who may have courted voters that held those views, but saw no space for them on their platform.

Here’s what Dallek believes are the consequences of that embrace:

“Until the acceptance of fringe ideas and extremist language and individuals becomes politically costly, and until a set of cultural democratic norms – including the peaceful transfer of power and a healthy tolerance for ideological differences – are restored, we can expect those inspiring political warfare to gain rhetorical strength,” Dallek warns.

“We may be entering an even uglier phase in which assaults on lawmakers and their families become routine, and the ‘apostles’ of violence and bigotry gain power.”

Key events

Supreme court temporarily blocks House committee from obtaining Trump’s tax returns

Supreme court chief justice John Roberts has temporarily stopped the Internal Revenue Service from turning over Donald Trump’s tax returns to a House committee, Reuters reports.

The decision comes after Trump yesterday petitioned the court to review lower court rulings that allowed the Democratic-led House ways and means committee to receive six years of the former president’s filings. According to the New York Times, Roberts, who handles petitions filed in Washington, wants the House committee to respond by Thursday:

JUST IN: Chief Justice Roberts grants Trump temporary stay on release of tax records to congressional committee. Asks for response from committee by Thursday

— Robert Barnes (@scotusreporter) November 1, 2022

Trump refused to release his tax returns as American presidents typically do, saying they were under audit. The IRS was previously expected to turn over the returns on Thursday.

Historian Joshua Zeitz published a similar warning about the trajectory of American political violence over the weekend, comparing our current period to the 1850s – when tensions over slavery began boiling over into armed confrontation.

Much of his piece is a history lesson on the lesser-known bloodshed that occurred in the years before the American civil war. But he also brings up the period around 1970, when the United States faced a wave of bombings and threats from far-left extremists. Here’s how he compares that period with today, from Politico:

In 1970, liberal members of the Senate didn’t march alongside members of the Weather Underground, pump their fists in the air and egg them on. They didn’t align themselves with violent extremists — court their votes, grant interviews to their underground newspapers, appear at their conferences. That’s the stuff of the 1850s, when mainstream Democrats turned away from democracy and openly embraced violence, vigilantism and treason to protect a world they saw at risk of disappearing.

The decision of so many American conservatives to embrace political violence, or the language and symbolism of political violence, is a troubling reality. We can’t have a functioning democracy if one side refuses to accept its norms and rules.

But history suggests we might have more to worry about.

Democratic violence in the 1850s ultimately led a majority of Republicans, who represented the political majority, to draw a line in the sand and enforce it by violence when necessary. If history is a guidepost, we are on the precipice of dangerous future in which politics devolves into a contest of force rather than ideas. That’s a future everyone should want to avoid.

In a New York Times column, historian Matthew Dallek of George Washington University considers the attack on Paul Pelosi in the context of Republicans’ continued embrace of extreme ideologies.

The biggest change the party has made is that it is now tolerating and integrating conspiracy theories and extremism into its governing coalition, Dallek finds, reversing the stance of previous leaders who may have courted voters that held those views, but saw no space for them on their platform.

Here’s what Dallek believes are the consequences of that embrace:

“Until the acceptance of fringe ideas and extremist language and individuals becomes politically costly, and until a set of cultural democratic norms – including the peaceful transfer of power and a healthy tolerance for ideological differences – are restored, we can expect those inspiring political warfare to gain rhetorical strength,” Dallek warns.

“We may be entering an even uglier phase in which assaults on lawmakers and their families become routine, and the ‘apostles’ of violence and bigotry gain power.”

Pelosi attack may be sign of worse to come, historian warns

Good morning, US politics blog readers. The attack last Friday on Democratic speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s husband may have been shocking, but it wasn’t an aberration, a George Washington University historian warns. In a column published in the New York Times yesterday, Matthew Dallek traces the assault on Paul Pelosi to the wider erosion of democratic norms in the country, such as the acceptance of extremism by conservatives and the Republican party. He warns that until political leaders seek to purge these voices from their parties, such violence may repeat itself.

Here’s what is on the agenda for today:

  • Joe Biden is heading to Florida to prop up the flagging prospects of Democratic candidate for governor Charlie Crist and Senate candidate Val Demings.

  • This time next week polls will have opened in the midterm elections, and we will soon find out whether Americans want to give Democrats more time controlling Congress.

  • For all the hubbub, Americans are less fired up about these midterm elections than in 2018, a Gallup poll finds, though enthusiasm is about average for such races in general.





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