Poll: Majority of Republicans support use of "force" to save "the traditional American way of life"

Nearly half of Republicans say a time will come when patriotic Americans have to take the law into their own hands

By Jon Skolnik
Published July 30, 2021 11:26AM (EDT)
Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as they storm the US Capitol in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP via Getty Images)
Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as they storm the US Capitol in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP via Getty Images)

Nearly half of all Republicans in the U.S. believe that "a time will come when patriotic Americans have to take the law into their own hands."

The revelation, which emerged as a part of a June poll by George Washington University, comes just six months after the January 6 riot, in which thousands of self-described "patriots" stormed the Capitol building to forcibly stop President Biden from being confirmed by the Electoral College. 

While 47% of Republicans agree with the prediction – that a group of patriotic citizens will usurp government authorities and run the country themselves – just 9% of Democrats could say the same. 

The poll, which surveyed 1,753 registered U.S. voters from June 4 to June 23, found a wide set of disparities between Republicans and Democrats on a number of principles.

For example, 82% of Republicans agreed that it's "hard to trust the results of elections when so many people will vote for anyone who offers a handout," but only 15% of Democrats felt the same way. When it comes to future elections, 76% of Democrats expressed confidence in the security of the 2022 elections, while just 28% of Republicans were on the same page. 

There were also significant differences between political parties on certain hot-button issues.

For instance, the poll found that less than 30% of Republicans feel that "dealing with global climate change" is somewhat or very important. With Democrats, this number is just north of 90%. 

"Changing the nation's gun laws," meanwhile, saw support from about 20% of Republicans, but more than 80% of Democrats felt it was a priority. 

Finally, about 40% of Republicans somewhat or strongly supported the need for "addressing race relations in this country, while 90% of Democrats felt the same. 

It should be noted that there was a high level of agreement on certain issues as well. 

For example, about the same number of Democrats and Republicans (85%) supported reducing the influence of lobbyists in Congress. Both parties were also aligned on making Medicare and Social Security more "financially sound," with about 90% of voters in both groups on board. 

Other issues which saw a bipartisan consensus included combating drug addiction, tackling rising healthcare costs, improving employment, improving the election system, and revamping the nation's infrastructure. 

In recent years, there has been a strong sense amongst scholars and pundits that the U.S. is more politically polarized than it has ever been – a perception that runs counter to the poll's findings on a number of issues. Some scholars have argued that the recent rise of the "culture war" – which Republicans have repeatedly used to cast a political valence on things that are otherwise benign – has contributed to a growing sense that the U.S. is more divided than ever. 


Jon Skolnik

Jon Skolnik is a staff writer at Salon. His work has appeared in Current Affairs, The Baffler, AlterNet, and The New York Daily News.

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