This Thursday will mark the one-year anniversary of the January 6 insurrection, in which hundreds of Trumpists attacked Congress in hopes that doing so would lead to them just giving up and letting Donald Trump be president for another four years, election be damned. Now a spate of polls has come out all telling us pretty much the same damn thing — a majority of Americans think what happened that day was not great! And that's nice! The problem is the minority of Americans who believe it was great and that those participating in the attack were "protecting democracy" is still too big for comfort.
The ABC/Ipsos poll found:
An overwhelming majority (72%) of Americans believe the people involved in the attack on the Capitol were "threatening democracy," while 1 in 4 Americans believes that the individuals involved were "protecting democracy." Broken down by party identification, Democrats are nearly unanimous (96%) in believing that those involved in the attacks were threatening democracy. Republicans are more split, with 45% saying it was a threat and 52% saying those involved in the riot were "protecting democracy."
That's a quarter of the population. That's a lot of people — millions of people. That's not great.
The Washington Post/UMD poll found:
The percentage of Americans who say violent action against the government is justified at times stands at 34 percent, which is considerably higher than in past polls by The Post or other major news organizations dating back more than two decades. Again, the view is partisan: The new survey finds 40 percent of Republicans, 41 percent of independents and 23 percent of Democrats saying violence is sometimes justified.
This should come as a surprise to absolutely no one. What do we think happens when a group of people are repeatedly told and assured that they have the right (and the obligation) to overthrow the government with their guns when things don't go their way? The NRA spent actual decades pushing this interpretation of the Second Amendment and it worked out fabulously for them, in terms of dismantling and preventing gun control. It's also worked considerably well for rightwing personalities and politicians, because it's part of a story their base loves to hear about themselves. They like to think of themselves as patriots, as the Real Americans, as following in the footsteps of the Founding Fathers. The idea that it is their job to protect the country from "tyranny" makes them feel good about themselves.
The CBS News poll found:
Outright approval of what happened comes only from a minority of Americans, but it certainly is there. Those who approve are younger and use right-leaning news sources and social media more, but they also have what seem like larger items than just their views about 2020 or an election. They are more likely to say the United States should divide into "red" and "blue" countries. There's a relationship between approval and conspiracy theories: among Americans who think QAnon ideas are at least probably true, approval of the Capitol events goes up to 50%.
The surprising thing here is that it's not 100 percent.
One slightly more unusual finding from that particular poll was the large chunk of people who believed that "most" of the people who invaded the Capitol were left leaning groups.
It was one thing, I suppose, for people to believe that on January 7 or even in the weeks after. It was certainly a popular narrative, one that made it easy for some conservatives to distance themselves from the riots without explicitly condemning them, while playing right into the hands of people who like to appear "reasonable" by claiming "both sides!"
But we literally know who these people are now.
Over 700 of them have been arrested, and if even one of them were a leftist other than that "Activist John" guy, we never would have heard the end of it. Every one of the people we know who was arrested was a Trump supporter. What? Do people suspect that these people simply pretended to be Trump supporters for the last several years, potentially alienating themselves from friends and family and getting iced off dating apps, just so that on January 6 of 2021 they could invade the Capitol and make Trump supporters look bad? What do they think is going on here?
Alas, it's probably less likely that they actually, seriously believe it then it is that they would really like for other people to believe it, and they think if they keep pretending to believe it, and repeat it over and over again, it will catch on. Same deal, really, with a lot of the people claiming they really, truly think Trump won the election — which, according to the ABC poll is 71 percent of all Republicans. Creating that doubt is the smart public relations move.
Quite frankly, the Right has adopted trolling and insincerity as an ethos, which really makes it hard to discern what they sincerely believe and what they are pretending to believe because they think doing so will totally "own the libs." Unfortunately, it's not clear if that matters or not.
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