CONTRIBUTORS

Democracy is no longer good enough. GOP radicals press increasingly for war

St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial board (TNS)

It really was only a matter of time before the two rallying cries of the far right — election fraud and gun rights — came together in the most dangerous ways. The deadly Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection offered just a taste of the radicalism that the Republican mainstream has nurtured by refusing to condemn extreme acts of violence and the political leaders who encourage it — including former President Donald Trump. All signs suggest this extremism is only going to get worse because GOP leaders fear losing power if they alienate the far right wing. Given the current trajectory, it’s not going to end well.

In New Mexico last week, police arrested Solomon Peña, an unsuccessful candidate for the state House in the Nov. 8 election. He allegedly paid four men in early December to shoot up the homes of four elected officials — including the state House speaker — whom he apparently blames for helping steal the election in which his Democratic opponent won 74% of the vote. The home of state Sen. Linda Lopez also was riddled with more than a dozen bullets two weeks ago.

MORE:New Mexico shootings follow 2 years of election assaults

MORE:Don't turn away from the rising tide of political violence in America

Supporters of President Donald Trump attack the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C., to stop the certification of Joe Biden's 2020 victory. (Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Video shows Peña approaching the houses of two people who were targeted. Police also have recovered text messages containing the victims’ addresses that he sent to the other gunmen. Police released a photo of one of Peña’s accomplices eating a hamburger while holding a pistol. Arrayed before him on a table are four additional pistols along with ammunition clips. Peña allegedly participated in one of the shootings even though, as a convicted felon, he is barred by law from possessing a gun.

Lest anyone in gun-happy Missouri mistake this as an innocuous, one-off event, there are some deadly serious factors worth considering. The gunfire ripped through the wall where an official’s 10-year-old girl was sleeping.

“This type of radicalism is a threat to our nation that has made its way to our doorstep right here in Albuquerque,” said Mayor Tim Keller, a Democrat.

The incident comes on the heels of an election-denying activist’s attack inside the San Francisco home of then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whose husband was struck with a hammer and had to be hospitalized. Dozens of similar acts of armed political violence have occurred around the country. In Brazil, protesters mimicked the Jan. 6 insurrection in their attack earlier this month on government buildings in the Brazilian capital, baselessly asserting fraud in the recent presidential election.

The common theme here is that it’s now acceptable in some circles to treat defeat as an automatic call to arms and violence. The days of magnanimity and bipartisan compromise are over. Some people want war and seem determined to provoke it. In the past, they could easily be dismissed as the lunatics they are. But since they now can claim an ex-president as their inspiration, lunacy is steadily infiltrating into the Republican mainstream, unchallenged by the party’s cowardly leaders.

— From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial board (TNS).