The Jan. 6 House Select Committee wrapped up their investigation with the start of the new year. In its final report issued in December, the panel recommended that the Justice Department investigate former President Donald Trump on four crimes: obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiracy to defraud the U.S., conspiracy to make false statements and aiding an insurrection.

While the committee’s public hearings gave us a deeper understanding of what happened on Jan. 6 and why, many are left wondering if such violence could happen again? 

report published in July by researchers at the UC Davis Violence Prevention Research Program found alarming trends in how people feel toward political violence. The survey was the first ever of its kind to explore people’s personal willingness to engage in specific scenarios of political violence. Among the more than 8,600 people surveyed, 67% perceive that “there is a serious threat to our democracy”, 50% agree that “in the next several years, there will be a civil war in the United States”, while 20% think that political violence is at least in sometimes justifiable “in general.” 

“Inside the Issues” host Alex Cohen spoke about these results with the epidemiologist leading the research, who is also the director of the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of Callifornia, Davis, Dr. Garen Wintemute.

What You Need To Know

  • UC Davis released a survey on alarming trends in attitudes toward violence, including political violence, in the United States

  • Key findings: 67.2% perceive there is “a serious threat to our democracy,” 50.1% agree that “in the next several years, there will be civil war in the United States,” 20.5% think that political violence is at least sometimes justifiable “in general”

  • A total of 8,620 people who are adult members of the Ipsos Knowledge Panel participated, and the sample was designed to represent the general adult population of the U.S.

  • Dr. Garen Wintemute said the country needs to recognize the magnitude of the problem 

“I doubt that people see a modern civil war as something with trenches and cavalry charges,” Wintemute said about how people defined the idea of civil war in the UC Davis survey.

He said, instead, the idea of civil war was viewed as more of “some sort of sustained insurgency.”

Wintedmute added that while half those surveyed thought civil war was imminent, less than half of them “agreed strongly or very strongly.”

Breaking down some of the more alarming results, Wintemute gave us the bad news first, good news second.

Surveyors were asked about the justification for political violence, anywhere from never justified to usually or always justified. A third of respondents said that political violence is usually or always justified, the epidemiologist noted. Answers also found, similarly to other surveys, that republicans are more likely than democrats to endorse political violence.

“We did something that had not been done before and we looked at MAGA republicans and found that more than half of them saw political violence as usually or always justified in at least one circumstance,” he said.

Wintemute compares himself to “being the bowman on the Titanic” when interpreting the results of the UC Davis survey.

He said he’s the one “pointing and shouting, ‘Hey look at that iceberg!’”

The epidemiologist said the country needs to recognize the magnitude of the problem, that “there are people that won’t just expect civil war, they want it, they’re preparing for it.”

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